Montana State University

The Graduate School

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172580
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

Tel: (406) 994-4145
Toll Free: 1-800-255-7962
Fax: (406) 994-4733
E-mail: gradschool@montana.edu
Location: 108 Montana Hall

Dean:

Dr. Karlene A. Hoo, Dean

The Graduate School - Policies and Procedures

For Doctoral Students


Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education

The Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) are awarded on evidence of a particular field of knowledge, evidence of ability to carry out independent research, and the ability to present the results of such research in a scholarly manner. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is awarded on evidence of scholarship, clinical expertise, and leadership to transform health care policy and practice.
Course and residency requirements are secondary to these objectives, and the degree is not awarded solely for faithfully completing a number of courses over a prescribed period.

The Doctoral Degree Application Process

Application for all doctoral degrees at Montana State University is made using The Graduate School application. A student who is completing a master’s degree at Montana State University and who wishes to begin a doctoral program in the same department the immediate following term may submit a letter, co-signed by the department head, to the Graduate Dean, requesting permission to continue graduate studies.
The College of Nursing and Department of Education require a new application process for all DNP and Ed.D. applicants after completion of the master’s degree. Other departments also may exercise this option. The applicant should contact the academic department to which they are applying for current procedures.

General Credit Requirements for Doctoral Degrees

All Ph.D. candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School and their specific academic college and department degree requirements. All Ed.D. candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School and the Department of Education degree requirements. All DNP candidates are expected to be familiar with both The Graduate School and the College of Nursing degree requirements.

MINIMUM CREDIT REQUIREMENT
All students earning a doctoral degree from Montana State University must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours post-baccalaureate, of which 18 – 28 of must be dissertation credits or 9 professional project credits for the DNP. A maximum of 30 credits from a previously earned master's degree (from MSU or another accredited University) may be applied toward the 60-credit minimum required for the doctoral degree.
In some departments, a greater number of credits are required. In others, in addition to dissertation/research credits, the satisfactory completion of certain courses is stipulated. The student must check specific departmental requirements.

COURSE LIMITATIONS FOR DOCTORAL DEGREES

  1. Special Topics (591): Credits allowed toward degree requirements for Special Topics (591) courses may not exceed the number defined by each degree program.
  2. Individual Problems (592): Not more than six credits of Individual Problems (592) courses may be included on a doctoral Program of Study.
  3. Pass/Fail credits: A maximum of three (3) credits (excluding dissertation) may be included on a doctoral Program of Study.
  4. 4XX level courses may be used on a Program of Study: a maximum of nine (9) credits are allowed.
  5. Limit on Age of Courses: The age of courses at the time of graduation for a doctoral degree may not exceed ten (10) years.
  6. Courses from a Master’s program: The Graduate ‘Program of Study’ lists those courses the student’s committee recommends are required to earn the doctoral degree.
  7. Undergraduate Seminars (494/400), Undergraduate Independent Study (492/470), Undergraduate Internship (498/476), Undergraduate Research/Instruction (482/489), Professional Development (588) and Graduate Consultation (589) courses arenotallowed on a Program of Study and will not count toward requirements for the degree.
  8. Courses, except P/F, taken while in a master’s degree program at MSU, beyond those listed on the graduate Program of Study, may be used on an additional master’s program or a doctoral program at a later time.

DISSERTATION/PROFESSIONAL PROJECT CREDIT REQUIREMENTS

All Ph.D. candidates are required to register for and complete a minimumof eighteen (18) dissertation (690) credits. Fourteen (14) credits of dissertation (690) are required for Ed.D. candidates. Nine (9) credits of professional project (675) are required for DNP. An unlimited number of 690 credits may be taken to finish a dissertation; however, only eighteen – twenty-eight (18 – 28) 690 credits are applicable toward degree requirements. An unlimited number of 675 credits may be taken to finish a professional project; however, only nine (9) 675 credits are applicable toward degree requirements.


RESIDENCE CREDIT REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCTORAL DEGREES
1. A minimum of thirty (30) credits applicable to the degree must be taken at MSU.
2. A student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits during the semester of a comprehensive examination, a defense of dissertation/professional project, and the semester of graduation.

Doctoral Graduate Committee

The graduate committee advises the student on academic matters and is the examining committee for the comprehensive examination and dissertation/professional project defense.

Committee composition

A graduate committee must include a minimum of four (4) members excluding The Graduate School-assigned Graduate Representative. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of many degrees the committee does not have to be composed entirely of faculty from the same department. The major professor and the department head recommend the committee, which must be approved by The Graduate School through the Program of Study.
The final member is the Graduate Representative, who is appointed by the Graduate Dean. See “Graduate Representative” below.
The committee composition must have a majority of tenured or tenure track faculty members from MSU. Exceptions and justification for a waiver from the majority may be requested in writing by the chair of the committee to The Graduate School. These will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Committee members not holding faculty status at MSU must submit documentation of their qualifications, including a vita. Non-MSU individuals may not hold positions as committee chairs.

Changes to the committee
The student has the right to request faculty changes to their committee, using the Change of Committee form. Changes in committee composition may not be made due to examination scheduling problems unless requested by the chair of the committee to the Graduate School.

Faculty affiliates, faculty of other institutions, and nonacademic experts
Faculty affiliates, faculty of other institutions, and nonacademic experts may serve as additional committee members, but may not serve as the committee chair.

Committee size
A maximum committee size is not stipulated. However, students are advised to keep the committee size to a reasonable number.

Deadline to appoint the Committee
The committee must be selected and appointed no later than the end of the student's third (3rd) semester of attendance. If committee appointments are not submitted by the end of the student's third semester, the student’s status moves from in good standing to not making satisfactory progress towards the degree. S/he automatically becomes ineligible for financial aid (including graduate assistantships, student work-study, and student labor) and will be placed on college probation due to a lack of identifiable satisfactory progress towards the degree.

Major Professor (Committee Chair)

As early as possible after admission, a student should secure a tenured or tenure-track faculty member to serve as the major professor. The Chair of the DNP committee must hold a doctorate degree. This professor is the student's major research advisor, chair of the student's graduate committee, and the channel of communication within the major department.
The department head or graduate coordinator may act as the research advisor during the first term or until a major professor is selected. In the event that the student does not select a major professor within the first term of attendance as a doctoral student, the department head must appoint a temporary research advisor. This tenured or tenure-track faculty member will advise the student until a major professor is selected.
The selection of a major professor must be completed and approved by the department head and the Graduate Dean no later than the third (3rd) term the doctoral student is in attendance.

The Graduate Representative

The Graduate School appoints the Graduate Representative at the time the student submits their Program of Study. The Graduate School will notify, via e-mail, each committee member of the appointment within three (3) weeks of receiving the proposed committee from the department.

The Graduate Representative’s Responsibility
The primary responsibility of the Graduate Representative is to monitor and insure compliance with the procedures and policies of The Graduate School as well as ensure that committee meetings are conducted in a fair and satisfactory manner. The Graduate Representative is to be advised of all committee meetings and is encouraged to attend these meetings.

The Graduate Representative must be present at the oral comprehensive and final examination (defense of dissertation/professional project).
Written examinations also are to be made available to the Graduate Representative who must be present at any committee meeting(s) held to discuss an examination or the results of an examination(s). At examinations that are open to faculty, the Graduate Representative has the same privileges to questions and comments that are accorded to any other faculty member.

Graduate Representative’s responsibility to file examination report
Within five (5) days after the examination (defense), the Graduate Representative must file a written report with The Graduate School regarding the open examination process, stating whether the process was conducted in a fair and satisfactory manner. Comments also may be made regarding the candidate’s performance. The Graduate School will carefully consider any written suggestions submitted by the Graduate Representative.

Identifying a replacement Graduate Representative
The student and the student’s advisor are responsible for arranging meeting times that allow the Graduate Representative to attend. If illness or some other emergency will prevent the Graduate Representative from attending an examination, that individual is responsible for identifying a suitable replacement. If the Graduate Representative is unable to find his/her own substitute, then the chair of the committee may find a replacement. However, The Graduate School must be notified of any substitutions before the examination is held in order to approve the replacement Graduate Representative. In cases where a substitute Graduate Representative is not approved by The Graduate School, the examination must be postponed and rescheduled.

Examinations held in the absence of the graduate representative or a previously approved substitute will be considered invalid and will have to be repeated.

Doctoral Graduate Program of Study

The student’s graduate committee and the student will complete a Program of Study that lists those courses that is required to earn the doctoral degree. It is not unusual for students to take classes beyond those listed on their Program of Study; however, courses used on a Program of Study to meet the degree requirements for a particular degree may not be used on a new program of study to be applied towards an additional graduate degree (master’s or doctoral).
Transcripts of all transfer course work must be submitted with the Program of Study or when the student completes the course. If the student submitted those transcripts during the application process, The Graduate School will reuse the transcript for program auditing purposes.

Program approval
Each member of the student’s graduate committee will indicate approval of The Program of Study by signing the Program of Study form. Final approval for the Program of Study rests with The Graduate School.

Filing deadlines
The student’s graduate committee must be selected and appointed no later than the end of the student's third (3rd) semester of attendance. If committee appointments are not submitted by the end of the student's third semester, the student’s status moves from in good standing to not making satisfactory progress towards the degree. S/he automatically becomes ineligible for financial aid (including graduate assistantships, student work-study, and student labor) and will be placed on college probation due to a lack of identifiable satisfactory progress towards the degree.

Filing final program changes
The deadline for filing final changes in a graduate Program of Study is the submission date for filing an Application for Advanced Degree.

Doctoral Dissertation/Professional Project

A dissertation is required for Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees. A professional project is required for the DNP degree. The dissertation must embody the results of extended research by the doctoral student, be an original contribution to knowledge, and include new material worthy of publication. The professional project must demonstrate that the graduate has translated best evidence and improved health care outcomes.
An outline or proposal for the doctoral dissertation/professional project should be submitted to and be approved by the student's graduate committee as early as possible. The final dissertation/professional project must be presented in an acceptable form and defended to the student's graduate committee no later than five (5) years after successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination.

When to register for professional project (675) or dissertation (690) credits
Registration in appropriate 690 (doctoral dissertation) courses is required during those terms when the student is working on the dissertation, using faculty time or university facilities. See College of Nursing approved programs for registration in 675 credits.

Submission of the final dissertation
The dissertation/professional project must be submitted as an electronic dissertation, in final form to The Graduate School no later than fourteen (14) working days before the end of the term in which the graduate work was completed. The dissertation/professional project must meet all the requirements set forth in the most current Graduate School ‘Guide for Preparation of Theses, Dissertations and Professional Papers’. Final authority for approval or rejection of the dissertation/professional project rests with The Graduate School.

Dissertation/Professional Project quality
Printable quality, proper use of the English language, punctuation and spelling, as well as consideration of the subject researched, completeness of the research and overall, scholarly quality of the final product will be the responsibility of the student's graduate committee and the major department.

Final dissertation approval
The signature of the Graduate Dean, after the dissertation/professional project has been judged to meet all expectations, will constitute approval of the dissertation/professional project. A dissertation/professional project is considered completed when accepted by the MSU Library in an electronic format.
MSU has the authority to require graduate students to submit the graduate dissertation/professional project to the MSU Library and to UMI for microfilming. Therefore, graduate students should submit a final electronic copy of the dissertation/professional project to The Graduate School following ETD (Electronic Theses and Dissertations) guidelines.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

The major department may administer a qualifying examination to evaluate the student’s preparedness. Usually, the student takes this examination during the first (1st) year of attendance.

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is the major academic examination during doctoral study that assures that the student has attained sufficient mastery of their program of study, including sufficient knowledge of pertinent literature, academic background, training, and the ability to conduct research.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Requirement
The comprehensive examination must be both written and oral. The student’s graduate committee, formally approved by the Graduate School, will assess the results of both the written and oral comprehensive examinations.

Minimum Registration to take the Comprehensive Examination
A student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits at MSU during the term in which the comprehensive examination or defense is taken.

If a studentwishes to sit for the comprehensive examination during the intersession (i.e., the time between terms), the student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits the term prior to the intersessionorthe term immediately following the intersession.

When to take the Comprehensive Examination
Two-thirds (2/3) of the course work required for a degree must be completed prior to sitting for the comprehensive examination. In certain instances, the graduate committee and department head may decide that the written and oral sections of the examination should be held on separate occasions.

The last day to take the comprehensive examination or defend a dissertation/professional projectif you plan to graduate during the same semesteris on or before the fourteenth (14th) business day prior to the end of the semester.

Reporting the Results of the Comprehensive Examination
The student’s graduate committee and the major professor are responsible for submittingwritten noticeof the results of the comprehensive examination to the student and to The Graduate School no later than one (1) week after the examination is held or after each section is administered. If the written and oral sections are given at separate times, the results of each section must be reportedin writingto the student and to The Graduate School no later than one (1) week after each section is completed by the student.

Acceptable Age of the Comprehensive Examination
The maximum time allowed between the comprehensive examination for the Ph.D., Ed.D., or DNP and degree completion is five (5) years.

Failed Examination
The major department may re-examine, once more, a student who has failed the comprehensive examination.
At least six (6) months must elapse before the second comprehensive examination may take place. Failure to pass this examination results in termination of graduate study and dismissal from the academic program. Students who are dismissed from the program due to a failed comprehensive examination are ineligible to reapply to the same degree program at any time. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all of the student’s graduate committee members, including the Graduate Representative, are available when scheduling the comprehensive examination.

Video Conferencing during Comprehensive Exam
The Graduate School allows for students to videoconference with committee members using the following requirements:

  • Must be a two-way video.
  • Conference process is initiated and completed by the student and/or department.
  • All costs incurred are the responsibility of the department and/or student.
  • If communication is broken during the examination and cannot be retrieved, the examination must be terminated and rescheduled to a later time/date.
  • One member of the committee, not including the Chair or Graduate Representative, is allowed to videoconference.
  • In the case of the student not being present with any other committee members, a qualified proctor must be present at the student’s location throughout the entire examination.
  • The proctor must confirm their presence in writing by submitting an email or letter to The Graduate School.

Defense of Dissertation

All doctoral students must formally defend the dissertation/professional project.
The defense usually consists of a public presentation and an oral examination of the candidate’s research or professional project focus and background. If a student wishes to sit for the dissertation/professional project defense during the intersession (i.e., the time between terms), the student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits the term prior to the intersession or the term immediately following the intersession.

Notification of the Defense Date
Each member of the student’s graduate committee must be given a minimum of one (1) week’s notification beforethe student's final examination to read the draft of the dissertation/professional project. The dissertation/professional project defense will be arranged by the chair (major professor) of the student’s graduate committee and the graduate student, and occurs before the final draft of the dissertation/professional project is completed. The defense is an oral examination only. Examinations in which any committee member has had insufficient time to prepare should not take place and may need to be rescheduled. The student’s graduate committee chair should discourage a student from defending if the chair (or the committee) feels the student is not prepared adequately.

Registration during the Semester of the Defense
A student must be registered for a minimum of three (3) credits at MSU during the term in which the defense is held.

Defense of Dissertation/Professional Project Deadlines
If a student wishes to hold their defense the semester of graduation, the defense must be held and passed at least fourteen (14) business days prior to the end of the semester.

The ’Open’ and ‘Closed’ Defense
A portion of the defense must be open to the public. This is usually a presentation of the student’s research or professional project. Following the open portion of the defense, the committee chair will excuse all attendees other than the student’s graduate committee members from the room. This begins the closed portion of the defense in which the committee will assess the student’s knowledge of the subject matter.

Advertising the Dissertation/Professional Project Defense
The student and the academic department are responsible for submitting an announcement to the MSU calendar system; http://www.montana.edu/calendarcontaining the following information:

  • The name of the candidate.
  • The title of the dissertation/professional project.
  • The time and place of the defense.
  • The location to obtain a copy of the dissertation/professional project for inspection.

The defense date must be advertised at least one (1) week prior to the actual defense date.

Reporting the Defense Results
The dissertation/professional project defense report must be submitted to The Graduate School no later than one (1) week after the defense is held. Failure to submit the report of the defense may invalidate the defense.

Failed Defense of Dissertation/Professional Project
If the student fails the dissertation/professional project defense, at least two (2) months must elapse before the defense can be repeated. Failure to pass a second time will result in termination of doctoral work and dismissal from the academic program. Students who are dismissed from the program are ineligible to reapply to the same degree program at any future time.

Invalid Defense of Dissertation/Professional Project
An examination held in the absence of the chair(s) and/or the Graduate Representative will be considered invalid. The Graduate Representative must be included in the process as an impartial observer to ensure the examination is fair for the student, comprehensive in nature (includes both breadth and depth), and that it is conducted within the guidelines set by the University.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all Committee members, including the Graduate Representative, are available when scheduling the comprehensive examination.

Video Conferencing during Defense of Dissertation/Professional Project
The Graduate School allows for students to videoconference with committee members. See above for the requirements.

Application for Advanced Degree

In the semester of intended graduation, the student must file an ‘Application for Advanced Degree’ form with The Graduate School. The form is available atwww.montana.edu/wwwdg/forms.html Students must also enroll in at least three (3) credits, the semester they intend to complete their degree. If a student fails to meet semester deadlines, they must re-file the application form the semester in which they expect to graduate. The deadlines for filing the application are:

Fall Semester: September 20
Spring Semester: February 5
Summer Semester: June 10

One Credit Registration

If the dissertation/professional project is submitted after the published deadline and the student is currently registered for three (3) credits, the student may choose to make all corrections/changes before the first day of the following academic term and be eligible for a one-credit registration (instead of the mandatory three-credit registration the term of graduation). Students who choose and are eligible for this option will be cleared to graduate the following term. If more time is needed beyond the first day of the following term, the student will be required to register for at least three (3) credits to be eligible for graduation that term.

Summary of Procedures:

What

When

Procedure

1. Pre-application form.

If required by the academic department, the pre-application must be submitted before obtaining application packet.

Send pre-application form to appropriate department.

2. Graduate Record Examination

May be required for admission.

Take exam at the designated testing center in your area and have results sent to MSU-Bozeman (code 4488).

3. Admission to degree program and The Graduate School

Per departmental deadlines.

Request application packet from the appropriate department or apply on-line.

4. Qualifying examination.

If required, this occurs in the first (1st) year.

If required, the exam will be arranged by the major department.

5. Selection of major research professor and graduate committee.

Not later than the end of the third (3rd) semester of registration.

See department head; submit the committee form to The Graduate School.

6. Program of Study.
*Extra fees apply.

By the end of the third (3rd) semester of registration.

Consult the major research professor; submit the program in official format to The Graduate School.

7. Foreign Language.

If required, as early as possible.

See department head.

8. Dissertation outline.

Before completion of coursework.

Submit outline to assigned graduate committee for approval.

9. Comprehensive examination. May be both oral and written

At least two-thirds (2/3) of the content coursework has been completed. Doctoral students usually sit for the comprehensive exam near the end of their ‘content’ coursework.

Make arrangements with the major research professor.

10. Application for Advanced Degree.
*Extra fees apply.

Submit on or before the third (3rd) Friday of the semester of completion of degree requirements.

Complete form obtained from the major department.

11. Final changes in the program of study.

Submit on or before the third (3rd) Friday of the semester of completion of the degree requirements.

Submit form to The Graduate School.

12. Defense of dissertation/professional project.

The dissertation/professional project is done, but not more than five (5) years after passing the comprehensive examination. Must occur at least 14 days before the end of the semester in which graduate work was completed.

Make arrangements with major research professor. Be sure the examination was announced in the What's New Bulletin in The Graduate School web pages.

13. Approval of dissertation/professional project.

After the defense and at least 14 working days before the end of semester in which graduate work was completed.

Approval by the Graduate Dean.

14. Commencement.

End of fall or spring semester.

See Commencement section below.

Commencement

Eligibility to participate in commencement
A diplomas is dated the last day of the semester in which the requirements for the degree are completed. Degrees are conferred twice a year at the December and May commencements.
Montana State University only allows those graduate students who have completed all requirements for the degree (all coursework, examinations, and final papers, including approval of the thesis, dissertation or professional project by the Graduate Dean) and who have applied to graduate by the deadline to participate in commencement exercises. Graduate students utilizing the one-credit extension and have documentation from their graduate committee chair of the student’s assured completion of degree requirements by the one-credit extension deadline may walk in the previous term’s ceremony.
All students should log into MyInfo and update ‘Graduation’ section for diploma mailing address and legal name. Students who participate in commencement must purchase academic robes and hoods. These may be purchased from the MSU Bookstore.

Students listed in MSU’s commencement book are those candidates who have identified themselves as eligible to graduate. The degree will not be awarded until all requirements for the advanced degree are met and the candidate has been cleared to graduate by The Graduate School. Being listed in the commencement book does not imply completion of the degree.
For more information on the commencement ceremony, please see http://www.montana.edu/commencement/
For instructions on how to wear your hood or how to be hooded, please view our Commencement Tutorial Video for graduate students

Satisfaction of Financial Obligations
All candidates for degrees must fully satisfy their financial obligations to the University (or make arrangements with MSU for doing so) as a condition for completing their degree programs. Candidates failing to comply with this requirement shall not be eligible for graduation, diplomas, degrees, or any transcripts of their records.

Back to Graduate Catalog of Policies and Procedures