PhD General Information

─ Applications to PhD programs should be submitted no later than three weeks prior to the start of class. There are two start dates each in summer, fall, and spring.

─ PhD courses are seven-weeks in length, with the exception of one research design course and the three dissertation courses, which are semester long.

─ The average PhD student takes two courses for a total of 6 credit hours per semester (one each 7-week session), which is considered a full load at the doctoral level. While there is flexibility with course load, most students are balancing professional careers, family, and personal responsibilities, and find that two courses per semester is reasonable and feasible.  

─ The PhD is the pinnacle degree awarded by any university, and students are expected to possess extremely high-level competencies. Students earn the PhD after gaining a strong grounding in research and analytical tools to write a robust dissertation and produce new knowledge in the field.


PhD Degree Requirements

  • The maximum time limit to complete the program is seven years or 150% of the credits, whichever the student reaches first.
  • A minimum of 37 credit hours must be completed at CU.
  • Up to 50% of the required credit hours can be transferred into the program.
  • Graduation is contingent upon the completion of 73 hours of prescribed courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 and no more than one C. Students must complete all coursework, pass the written comprehensive examination, and successfully write, present, and defend their dissertation.
  • Continuous enrollment (a minimum of one course per semester) is required Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.
  • In the event of extenuating circumstances, a PhD student may request in writing one Leave of Absence of up to two semesters. A PhD student who remains inactive for longer than two semesters must reapply to the program. Special accommodations will be extended for military deployments. The LOA does not “stop the clock” on the 7-year time limit for degree completion.


PhD Residency

Students are required to attend a one-week on-campus residency the first time it is offered after acceptance, typically in conjunction with their first summer semester of attendance. The residency is a highlight for students as they begin to develop competencies in dissertation choice, design and methodology, and APA writing style and format. It is an opportunity for students to build relationships with professors and grow their own personal networks with fellow students.

Students can stay in university housing for a fee or choose to stay in area hotels. A fee is attached to the residency requirement, which includes room and board in university housing. Details are provided prior to registration for the event.


PhD Comprehensive Examination, Dissertation, and Oral Defense

The PhD student will submit and pass a written comprehensive examination upon completion of 55 hours of coursework, prior to moving forward on the dissertation research.

The PhD dissertation is a formal treatise that advances a proposition based on scholarly research. Included among the criteria of a successful dissertation are the following: appropriate topic, valid research question, original research, sound methodology, coherent argumentation, critical evaluation, effective style, conformity to deadlines, and contribution of scholarship.

The presentation and oral defense of the written dissertation will be scheduled through the committee chair.