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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Doctoral Programs

graduate school of arts and sciences

The Ph.D. degree is granted for distinction attained in a special field of concentration, by the demonstrated ability to modify or enlarge a significant subject in a dissertation, based upon original research scholarship. The minimum requirement is that the doctoral student follow a unified and organized program of study.

Detailed statements of requirements and procedures should be requested directly from the academic department in which the student has an interest.

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Residence

The philosophy of the residence requirement is that a doctoral student should experience the total environment of the University. Residence for at least two consecutive semesters of one academic year, during which the student is registered as a full-time student at the University, is required. A plan of study that meets this requirement must be arranged by the student with the department. Registration in two courses per semester is considered to fulfill the residency requirement for students holding full-year fellowships and assistantships. The residence requirement may not be satisfied, in whole or in part, by summer session attendance.

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Language Requirement

Academic departments are responsible for the language requirements.

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Preparing for Comprehensives

Students frequently spend one or two semesters preparing for comprehensive exams following the completion of their course requirements. During this interim, students should register for Doctoral Comprehensives (xx998.01). No credit is granted.

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Comprehensive Examinations

Student eligibility for taking the doctoral comprehensive exam is determined by the department. Students should consult with their department about the nature of this exam and time of administration. Departments use the following grading scale: pass with distinction (PwD), pass (P), and fail (F); one of these three grades will be recorded on the student’s transcript. Generally, within two weeks, the department will send the results, in writing, to the Office of Student Services and to the individual student. A student who fails the exam may take it once again, but not sooner than the following semester, and at a time designated by the department. In case of a second failure no further attempt is allowed.

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Admission to Candidacy

A student attains the status of a doctoral candidate by passing the doctoral comprehensive exam and by satisfying all departmental requirements except the dissertation. Doctoral candidates are required to register each semester and to pay a doctoral continuation fee until completion of the dissertation.

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Dissertation

Each doctoral candidate is required to complete a dissertation that demonstrates original and independent research and that represents advanced scholarly achievement. The subject of the dissertation must be approved by the major department and the research performed under the direction of a faculty advisor. The manuscript must be prepared according to style requirements of the departments, and of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Please review Dissertation Guidelines.

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Dissertation Committees

Dissertation Committees in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences should be composed of at least three members. Two members must be from Boston College; the chair must be a tenured or tenure-track member of the departmental faculty. Committee composition is subject to departmental approval.

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Acceptance of the Dissertation

As soon as possible after a student’s admission to candidacy, a Dissertation Committee will be appointed to judge the substantial merit of the dissertation. The dissertation shall be defended by the candidate in a public oral examination. Official approval of the dissertation by the Committee is required. Committee members certify their acceptance by signing the title page of the dissertation.

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Dissertation Publication

Doctoral candidates should visit web page of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office by the middle of the semester in which they plan to graduate for detailed instructions concerning dissertation publication requirements and commencement procedures.

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Dissertation Embargoes

Upon submission of a completed doctoral dissertation in the Graduate Shool of Arts and Sciences, a student may request an embargo for not more than two years without special permission. To request an extension beyond two years, but for no more than five years, a student must submit a written rationale to the relevant GSAS Embargo Committee—humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences and mathematics—in which the student's department is located. Requests for more than five years will be granted by an Embargo Committee only for extraordinary reasons.

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Time Limit

All requirements for the Doctoral Degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be completed within eight consecutive years from the beginning of doctoral studies. Extensions beyond this limit may be made only with departmental recommendation and the approval of the Dean by use of the petition for time extension form.

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Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Where departmental Doctoral Programs are unable to satisfy the interests of the student, an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program remains a possibility; however, students must first be admitted to a departmental program. A student interested in exploring such a possibility should first make an inquiry to the Graduate School Dean’s Office.

Additional requirements may be established within the individual academic departments.

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