Graduate Policies--Doctoral

The doctoral degree is granted in recognition of exceptional attainment in a specific field as demonstrated by passing coursework, the successful completion of required examinations and the successful defense of a dissertation based on original research that makes a significant contribution to the knowledge base of the student’s field of study.

Doctoral Excessive Hours Fee ("99-Hour Rule")

All doctoral students (regardless of state residency classification) who exceed 99 hours of doctoral coursework will be required to pay out-of-state tuition. Doctoral coursework is any coursework taken by a student seeking a doctoral degree after the completion of an initial 30 semester hours of graduate credit (typically master’s level work, regardless of whether the hours are taken as part of a master’s degree, as a non-degree seeking student, certificate work, or as part of the doctoral program). (See Texas Education Code Sec. 61.046 (l))

This rule applies to all students admitted to a doctoral program at UT Tyler. This tuition structure applies to Texas residents as well as out-of-state residents and international students who were eligible to be charged tuition at the resident rate as a result of scholarship, fellowship awards, or employment as Graduate Assistants.

Program of Study

All doctoral programs consist, at minimum, of a coherent set of courses and other educational experiences, a Proficiency Examination, a dissertation, and a Final Oral Defense. Students must satisfy not only their departmental requirements, but also any additional requirements specified by the The Graduate School.

Foreign Language Requirements

The Graduate School has no foreign language requirement for doctoral degrees; however, knowledge of one or more foreign languages may be required by individual doctoral programs.


The University of Texas at Tyler admits students to its Ph.D. programs under the Full Admission criteria. The requirements for admission are stated in the section for each doctoral program elsewhere in the catalog.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

Transfer of graduate credit from a regionally accredited institution is limited to a total of no more than 12 semester hours. Individual doctoral programs may adopt more restrictive limits. Hours transferred into a doctoral program should represent credit earned after the award of the master’s degree. Exceptions to the number of hours transferred may be requested by the program to the Dean of the Graduate School. Only credit with a grade of “B” or better may be transferred. Credit earned more than six calendar years before admission to the program will not be accepted for transfer.

The program will determine what courses, if any, are accepted for transfer. The doctoral student may be examined on all transferred courses at the time of the doctoral proficiency examinations.

Transfer work does count toward the 99-Hour Rule for tuition purposes. See above for state law regarding the 99-Hour Rule.

University Requirements for Doctoral Degree

  1. Satisfactory completion of all coursework required by the plan of study.
  2. Satisfactory completion of the Proficiency Examination.
  3. Completion of the required residency requirements before Candidacy is awarded.
  4. Graduate cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
  5. Satisfactory completion of the Oral Dissertation Defense.
  6. Submission of an electronic version of the approved dissertation including the dissertation abstract and a copy of Human Subjects or Animal Subjects approval form (if required).
  7. Completion of Ph.D. degree requirements within five years after being admitted to candidacy.

Grading Policies

See general graduate policies.

Repeating a Course

Doctoral students may repeat a 5000- or 6000-level course if the original grade earned was a C, D, F and if allowed by the program. The course may be repeated only once and the original grade continues to be included in the computation of the graduate point average. There is no grade replacement at the doctoral level. Individual programs may prohibit repeating a course or may have limits on the number of times a student may repeat courses.

Probation/Suspension for Doctoral Students

The policies below represent the minimum standard for graduate students at the University of Texas at Tyler. Individual colleges may have stricter criteria for probation and/or suspension from a program.

Academic Probation

A doctoral student who has a cumulative grade-point of less than 3.0 will be placed on probation. Students on academic probation must earn a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or above in each subsequent semester of enrollment (including summer, if registered) until the cumulative grade point deficiency is removed.

Students have two semesters to remove themselves from probation. Failure to do so results in academic suspension. A student on probation should not register for more than six hours and must obtain his/her advisor’s approval to register.

Grade-point deficiencies incurred at UT Tyler must be removed through additional course work at UT Tyler. Grades earned at other institutions are not used in computing the grade-point average and may not be used to remove a deficiency. A doctoral student who leaves the University on probation will be readmitted on probation even if he or she has attended another institution in the interim. However, readmission as a degree-seeking student is not guaranteed.

Academic Suspension

A doctoral student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress may be dismissed from the doctoral program. Failure to make satisfactory progress may be the result of, but not limited to, failure to raise grade point average to 3.0 within the subsequent two semesters, poor performance on proficiency exams, unsatisfactory research progress, or inability to meet other degree requirements.

Although cases of improper conduct of research or unprofessional behavior are addressed according to other University procedures, these behaviors may also result in dismissal from the University.

Dissertation Process

Dissertation Proposal

Each program will determine when the dissertation proposal must be approved relative to taking Proficiency Examinations (i.e., before, after or concurrently).

Doctoral Proficiency Examination

All doctoral students are required to pass a Doctoral Proficiency Examination in the major field before writing the dissertation. Each doctoral program will determine whether the Proficiency Examination is written and/or oral.

The proficiency examination is typically taken after the student has completed a significant portion, if not all, of the program’s coursework. However, a student may not be advanced to candidacy or register for dissertation hours until all coursework is completed and all portions of the Proficiency Examination have been passed satisfactorily.

The student must be in good academic standing and registered for a minimum of three credit hours in the semester in which any portion of the examination or a re-examination is taken. 

Examination Committee

The Proficiency Examination Committee is composed of members of the program's doctoral faculty.


While The Graduate School does not dictate the format for the Proficiency Examination, it is expected that the examination will be appropriately rigorous. Also, the policies and rules for the form, timing, scheduling, sequence, and conduct of the proficiency examination must be uniform for all students in the program and available in written form (handbook, etc.) to all students.

Proficiency Examination

The student is considered to have satisfactorily completed the written Proficiency Examination when the members of the Proficiency Examination committee have determined that a candidate has met the criteria established for satisfactory performance.

A student who fails the written examination twice is not allowed an additional examination and is automatically dismissed from the university.


A student may appeal the outcome of a Proficiency Examination by submitting a written petition to the director of the doctoral program within 10 work days of being notified of the outcome of the examination. The path of the appeal process is from the director of the doctoral program to the department chairperson to the dean of the college and to the Dean of the Graduate School. The decision of the Dean of the Graduate School shall be final.

Application for Candidacy

When a student has completed all required coursework, has satisfactorily completed all portions of the proficiency exam, and is in good academic standing, the student is admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.


The dissertation is an independent scholarly contribution to knowledge in the student’s area of specialization. By researching, writing, and defending a dissertation, the student demonstrates a high level of knowledge in the chosen field and the ability to conduct independent research.

The Graduate School has established guidelines for dissertations. These are available at

Individual doctoral programs may also offer guidelines with requirements beyond those established by The Graduate School.

All Ph. D. candidates are required to complete and defend a dissertation. The university requires a minimum of nine hours of dissertation credit. However, most Ph. D. programs require more hours.

Doctoral candidates are required to register for a minimum of one credit of dissertation during fall and spring semesters until the dissertation is accepted by The Graduate School. (See, Enrollment Requirements)

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Federal regulations and University policy require that all investigations using animal or human beings as subjects of research be reviewed and approved by the appropriately constituted committees before such investigations may begin. Data based on the use of animals or human beings as subjects cannot be collected for any dissertation without prior review and approval in accordance with university procedures.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee is established at a time thought appropriate by the student and the chair of the committee. Although it should be formed as early as possible in the research process, the dissertation committee must be approved by The Graduate School—using the Appointment of Dissertation Committee form-- the student is allowed to register for dissertation hours.

The dissertation committee is composed of a dissertation advisor, who chairs the committee, and at least three other Graduate Faculty members. The advisor must be qualified to chair dissertations and be from the department from which the degree is sought. At least one more of the committee members must be from the department in which the degree is being sought.

Doctoral programs are encouraged to include scholars from outside the program to serve as members of dissertation committees. The outside members may be selected from among graduate faculty from other academic programs or from other institutions where scholarly work is conducted. All members of a dissertation committee must possess the appropriate graduate faculty qualifications for their role on a committee.

The role of the dissertation committee is to mentor the student’s research and writing and approve the dissertation following an oral defense. Doctoral students are urged to consult with members of the dissertation committee throughout the progress of the research. Some programs may require doctoral candidates to submit an annual progress report to the dissertation committee.

Defense of Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is developed in consultation with the dissertation chair and input as needed from committee members. Following approval of the dissertation chair, the proposal is distributed to the dissertation committee prior to proposal defense. The dissertation proposal defense is held in closed session with the committee and requires a majority of committee votes for a decision. The committee may recommend acceptance, revisions, or rejection. The committee may determine a second defense is needed following revision. The proposal must be approved by the committee prior to submitting it to the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Oral Defense

The dissertation chair is responsible for determining that the dissertation draft is appropriate in form and content for committee evaluation. If substantial revisions are necessary, they should be completed before the oral defense is scheduled.

The Request to Schedule Oral Defense form signed by the Dissertation Committee Chairperson must be submitted to and approved by The Graduate School no later than 10 working days before the date of the oral defense. The oral defense is open to the public. However, once the defense is completed, the student and visitors must leave the room while the Committee discusses the students’ performance and votes on the outcome. The student is invited back into the room to receive the Committee’s decision.

When the Request to Schedule Oral Defense form is received, The Graduate School nominates a representative to protect the interests of the student, the committee, and The Graduate School. The Representative is also an “unbiased person” to whom the Graduate Dean may turn for judgment and counsel. The role of the Representative at the dissertation defense is to:

  • Assure a fair and deliberate process for all, particularly the student.
  • Assess the integrity of the defense itself. The Representative should contact the Graduate School Dean immediately if there is an area of concern.

A complete draft of the dissertation (electronic version, not hardcopy) must be made available to the Representative upon request no later than 10 working days before the date of the oral defense. The Representative is in attendance throughout the defense process, including committee deliberation. However, the Graduate Representative does not participate in the committee questioning nor thin the committee deliberations. 

The oral defense is open to the public. However, once the defense is completed, the student and visitors must leave the room while the Committee discusses the students’ performance and votes on the outcome. The student is invited back into the room to receive the Committee’s decision.

The student is considered to have completed the oral defense successfully only when the majority of the Committee votes in the affirmative. Each committee member indicates his/her vote by signing the Final Oral Defense Report form. The committee may require alterations and corrections, but these should constitute relatively minor changes agreed to by the majority of the committee members. The dissertation chairperson is responsible for verifying that the changes required by the committee have been made. 

If the examination is judged unsatisfactory by a majority of the voting members, the Committee must decide whether the student will be permitted to do a second oral defense. If a second examination is required, the committee must be the same as the original one unless a substitution is approved by the Graduate School Dean. A student who fails the oral defense twice is not allowed an additional examination and the student is automatically dismissed from the program and candidacy revoked.

The final decision of the examining committee is referred to The Graduate School using the Oral Defense Report form, which must be filed no later than two weeks following the oral defense.

Format Review

After successfully defending the dissertation and making any changes requested by the committee, the student must submit an electronic draft of the complete dissertation to The Graduate School for format review. Review of the draft for format requirements will take approximately two weeks.

The Graduate School has created a checklist to guide candidates through the final steps of the dissertation defense and approval process the checklist is available at

Dissertations are regarded as publications and will be made available to the public once they are approved and submitted to The Graduate School.