33 core credits are required. 9 credits of electives (typically three additional 3-credit courses) are required and can be fulfilled by taking RS 990 (Independent Study) or by approval of transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions per prior arrangement with each student's Academic Advisory Committee.
The dissertation phase of the program will be initiated after passing a Qualifying Examination, which typically is scheduled after students have completed 6 consecutive semesters of coursework.
Students are required to register for a 1-credit continuing student course (RS 998) for each semester during the dissertation phase of their program.
After completing the coursework in the core curriculum and elective coursework, typically within the first 6 semesters, each student must pass a qualifying examination before being considered a candidate for the doctoral degree and being permitted to move on to the dissertation phase of the program. This examination is designed to assess the student’s readiness to formulate and carry out a high-quality dissertation project. The qualifying exam can be taken at the end of the summer semester Year 2 or during the fall semester of Year 3.
If a student has completed 42 credits of coursework and has not yet passed the qualifying exam, they should enroll in a 1-credit continuing student course, RS 997 (Continuing student-pre qualifying exam) while they prepare for the exam. This will likely be in the fall semester of Year 3. They must register for this course each semester thereafter until they pass the qualifying exam.
The qualifying examination entails writing an NIH-style grant application for a project that the student plans to pursue for a dissertation. The proposal is evaluated by a committee of faculty members (Examining Committee) both in terms of the written document and via questioning that takes place during the student’s oral presentation of the project to the Examining Committee.
The Examining Committee decides whether the student passes, passes with qualifications (recommendations for additional coursework, etc.) or fails the qualifying examination at the end of the oral presentation/examination.
The dissertation comprises a series of papers formatted for submission to peer-reviewed journals for publication along with an introduction chapter and an overall conclusions chapter.
This approach is modeled after the format that has been used successfully for some time in several European and Scandinavian countries and is being increasingly adopted by academic departments in the United States as a way to facilitate the publication of dissertation research.
The final product must be successfully presented and defended orally before a Dissertation Committee comprising faculty with expertise in areas related to the dissertation topic.
Student performance in the didactic courses in the core curriculum and elective coursework will be primarily evaluated using traditional approaches including formal testing, projects/problem sets, and/or written assignments/term papers. Students must maintain a B (80%) average in these courses to continue in the PhD program. Mentored experiences in teaching and research will be assessed on a pass-fail basis.