Completion of Degree - Doctoral Students Completion of Degree - Doctoral Students


Dissertation Checklist

The Dissertation Checklist is for personal use and can be used to track the forms needed to complete a dissertation in conjunction with department advising. For guidelines and more information, see the CGU Bulletin.

Unit Requirements

Generally, a minimum of 72 units of coursework is required for a doctoral degree. See the Maintaining Your Student Status page for guidelines.

Students intending on graduating during the summer term, please note: Repayment periods on loans are based upon the semester of your last enrollment, not upon your graduation date, and generally begin six months after your last date of at least part-time attendance. For summer doctoral graduates, this often results in your last date of attendance falling in mid-May, and your repayment period would begin around November of the same year. If this is a concern for you, please contact the Financial Aid Office prior to submitting your Intent to Receive a Degree form to discuss your options. 

Time to Degree

Degree requirements for the doctoral degree program must be completed within seven years from the semester in which the student was admitted to the program. This time period is adjusted when transfer credit is accepted toward the degree.

  • Reduced by 6 months if 12 units or less of transfer credit is accepted
  • Reduced by 12 months if 13 or more units of transfer credit is accepted

Time to degree may be extended by submitting an Extension of Time to Degree Request. Forms are available on the Registrar's Form Index webpage.

Students must be enrolled continuously, either for credit or through Doctoral Study (499), until the degree is earned. For students who must still complete unit requirements, enrollment in Doctoral Research (495), Tutorial Reading (497), or Independent Study (498) is advised. Grades for Dissertation Research are not required until the oral defense is passed and the dissertation is submitted. No grades are issued for Doctoral Study.

Students who do not maintain a continuous student status with the University may be required to reinstate, or to reapply to the program if more than five years has passed since the last term of enrollment. Time to degree is adjusted whenever a student is readmitted. Please refer to the Registration & Enrollment section of the Bulletin for reinstatement procedures.

Residency Requirement

The residency requirement ensures that students who graduate from CGU have been fully enriched by the program characteristics and faculty interactions that distinguish their degrees as CGU degrees.

The doctoral degree residency requirement may be met by either two semesters of full-time study in a 2-year period or by the completion of 48 units of coursework within a 3-year period, including work in the summer sessions. Enrollment in Dissertation Research (495) and Doctoral Study (499) do not satisfy the residency requirement.

Students who receive transfer credit meet the residency requirement in one of the following ways.

  • If 12 units or less of transfer credit is approved, by completing two full-time semesters of coursework within a 2-year period or by completing 36 units within a 2-1/2-year period
  • If 13 to 24 units of transfer credit is approved, by completing 24 units within a 2-year period

Students who are admitted to a doctoral program after completing a CGU master's degree are subject to the same regulations on time to degree and residency as students who enter CGU after completing a master's degree at another institution. Units earned in a CGU master's program generally count toward the unit requirement for a doctoral degree in the same field. Because coursework requirements differ from field to field, not all CGU master's units may count toward doctoral degree requirements. Students should consult their doctoral faculty advisors.

Transfer Credit

Refer to the Transfer of Credit page and Application of Units to Multiple CGU Degrees page.

Transdisciplinary Course Requirement

Transdisciplinary courses are advanced intensive classes that prepares doctoral students for high-level discourse, research, and inquiry while also providing practical experience collaborating with colleagues from different fields.

Doctoral students admitted or readmitted in Fall 2004 or later, are required to complete a Transdisciplinary course (T-Course) preferably before the end of their second year of doctoral coursework.

To fulfill this requirement, students must enroll in a CGU course section headed by the prefix TNDY and successfully complete the 4-unit course (or two 2-unit TNDY courses). Transfer units may not be used to meet this requirement.

The course will count as 4 units towards the doctoral degree requirement. It will not add any additional units to the student's degree requirements nor count against the total number of transfer units from previous graduate coursework.

The Transdisciplinary course requirement does not apply to students enrolled in master degree programs, in the doctoral programs in Botany, or in the joint doctoral programs with CSU Long Beach or San Diego State University.

Degree Milestones

Specific degree program requirements are known as milestones. Students must be enrolled in order for milestones to be accepted and recorded on the student's official transcript. Progress to degree in the successful and timely completion of degree milestones is governed by the University's policy on satisfactory academic progress. Forms are available on the Registrar's Form Index webpage.

Research and Tools

Reading proficiency in two approved foreign languages is normally required, except when the program faculty accept substitutions. Substitutions may include statistics, mathematics, computer programming, and others in selected fields. You must demonstrate proficiency by either passing an exam, enrolling in a qualified course and receiving a grade B or better, or other acceptable and documented process. Students should consult their specific programs.

Students who have fulfilled a research tool at another institution may petition their faculty to have these research tools accepted. An official transcript is required to substantiate that completion of the applicable coursework occurred within the last three years. Entering students should petition their academic programs as soon as possible after acceptance.

Verification and Documentation: Satisfaction of each required research tool is documented on a Research Tool Approval form (this form can be found at Registrar's Forms Index webpage). This form is completed by your department and submitted to the Registrar's Office. Research tools are recorded on your transcript under the Non-Course Milestones section.

Tools Completed Outside CGU: If you completed a research tool at another institution, you may petition to apply the tool to your CGU degree program. Non-CGU tools must meet the following qualifications.

  • Transfer credit requirements apply - that is, graduate level achievement from an accredited institution and documented on an official transcript
  • In compliance with transfer credit policies, grades received in non-CGU coursework must be B or better
  • Tools completed at another institution must have been accomplished within three years of the date you of your petition

If you wish to transfer tools to your CGU degree program, be sure to petition your department as early as possible after you begin your studies at CGU to meet the three year requirement. Submit your request as follows:

  • Complete an Academic Petition form which can be found at Registrar's Forms Index webpage.
  • Attach an official transcript that documents your completion of the tool. If this information was included in the transcript you provided upon admission, you need not obtain a new transcript. Simply indicate on the petition that your official transcript is already on file. Your department will make and attach a copy of that transcript to your petition.
  • Submit the petition to your department for approval and forwarding to the Registrar's Office.


Qualifying Examination

When a student has completed all program requirements, the advisor and dean of the student's program approve a committee to administer the qualifying examinations. Upon successful completion of the exam(s), the committee reports the results to the Registrar's Office. Students are expected to successfully complete their qualifying examinations prior to advancing to candidacy and within six months of the established time to degree period of the program.

Prerequisites for Qualifying Examinations: Generally, the following requirements must be met before a student is permitted to take qualifying examinations.

  • Full graduate standing must be attained.
  • Requirements for research tools, outlined in the individual program sections, must be satisfied.
  • The student must have completed not less than two years of full-time graduate study, or 48 units, including transfer credit. Courses in which the student has received an incomplete grade do not qualify toward the 48 units needed for eligibility.
  • Individual departments might have more prerequisites, please see your program coordinatior for more information.

Type of Exams: Refer to your department and the requirements for your degree program to determine the type of qualifying exams you must complete.

Scheduling Exams: Qualifying exams are scheduled by your department. Your advisor or dean approves a committee to administer the examination whose results are reported to the Registrar's Office using the Qualifying Exams Approval for Doctoral Students form can be found at Registrar's Forms Index webpage. Exam results are posted to your transcript in the Non-Course Milestones section.

Failing an Exam: Students who fail to pass either written or oral examinations are permitted, on the recommendation of the student's advisor and dean, to take a second examination after a stipulated period of time. This period must be no less than three months and no more than one calendar year after the first examination. If the results of the second examination are unsatisfactory, no further examinations are permitted, except upon recommendation of the graduate faculty in the field concerned and with the approval of the provost and vice provost for enrollment management and student services.

If you are unable to pass your required qualifying examinations within the time to degree established for your degree program, you may be subject to dismissal from your program.

Dissertation Committee Dissertation Committee


The membership of a student's dissertation committee, including changes as they become necessary, must be reported to the Registrar's Office. Each dissertation committee consists of at least three members drawn from the core CGU faculty or The Claremont Colleges Extended Faculty, on the condition that at least one committee member be a core CGU faculty member from the candidate's department. CGU encourages the inclusion of an external expert, or experts, on the committee. This outside examiner or reader is in addition to the three members required for the committee. The outside examiner may be a faculty member from another institution or a qualified practitioner from the student's field of study. If approved by the department, the outside examiner may vote in the committee's proceedings and may be offered an honorarium. All dissertation committees are approved by the dean of the school. Exceptions to the make-up of a particular committee require the approval of the Provost.

Identifying Your Dissertation Committee: As you begin to refine a topic for your dissertation, you will identify an advisor who will chair your dissertation committee. At the same time, you and your chair will identify members of The Claremont Colleges to comprise your committee. A committee must be established and reported to the Registrar's Office on a Designation or Change of Dissertation Committee form (available on the Registrar's Form Index) or as part of the Advancement to Candidacy process. It is this committee which will approve your dissertation proposal and advance you to candidacy. 

Be sure your dissertation committee complies with CGU policies and that any changes to your committee membership are reported to the Registrar's Office using the Designation or Change of Dissertation Committee form.

On all approval forms submitted to the Registrar's Office, individual members of the committee must personally affix their own signatures or provide other written evidence of individual approval. Such evidence may include written documentation faxed to the Registrar's Office at (909) 607-7285 or an e-mail from an institutional or professional domain.  If approval is provided by such documentation, "See attached" may be recorded on the signature line for the individual. Under no circumstances may a committee chair, another member, or anyone else sign for a colleague.

Exceptions to Dissertation Committee Membership: Exceptions to the make-up of a dissertation committee must be approved by the Provost. Requests should be submitted through an academic petition supported by the Dean of the school to the Registrar's Office, who will prepare additional documentation and forward it to the Provost. Requests should include the following:

  • Clear statement of the situation and options considered before requesting the exception
  • Compelling reasons for approving the exception
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) of the external committee member

If approved, the Provost's Office will notify the Registrar's Office. Documentation for an approved exception is retained in the student's file.

Communicating with Your Committee: Be sure to send manuscripts well in advance of the date you have scheduled with your department for defense of your manuscript, sometimes referred to as oral exams.

Proposal & Advancement to Candidacy Proposal & Advancement to Candidacy


You are ready to advance to candidacy and begin work on your dissertation or final project (for MFA or DMA)  if you meet all of the following qualifications as specified by your program: you are done with all coursework, you have passed qualifying exams, and you have completed all research tools. You are responsible for program requirements in effect for the semester of your admission or last readmission, whichever is the most recent, and published in the CGU Bulletin for that academic year.

Advancement to candidacy occurs when the student's dissertation or project proposal is accepted and approved by the student's committee. A copy of the student's proposal must be attached to the Advancement to Candidacy Form (available on the Registrar's Form Index) filed with the Registrar's Office.

The proposal is a contract between the student and the committee detailing expectations and requirements of the dissertation or project. The content, organization, format, and length of the proposal are determined by your committee. 

You and your chair determine when the proposal is ready for presentation to the committee and approval. Review for approval shall occur in a meeting of the committee, where you and at least one member of the committee are physically present together in the same location. All committee members must sign the Advancement to Candidacy Form or offer evidence of their individual approval of your proposal.

Any changes to your proposal must be approved by all members of your committee and documented on a Declaration of Change to Approved Proposal form (available on the Registrar's Form Index). A copy of the revised proposal must be attached to the form, which is filed with the Registrar's Office.

Upon advancement to candidacy, doctoral students in degree programs requiring a dissertation are ABD or "All But Dissertation."

Students are required to maintain their student status for the duration of their period of study at CGU. If you are not registered for the semester, the Registrar's Office cannot accept or process reports of academic accomplishments, including milestones like Advancement to Candidacy that you must complete to receive your degree.


Dissertation Defense & Final Approval Dissertation Defense & Final Approval


Following Advancement to Candidacy, a student's readiness for hte final dissertation defense (sometimes referred to as the final oral examination) will be determined by the dissertation committee chair and committee members when the complete written work of the dissertation is ready for presentation. The defense should take place within one month from submission of a dissertation to the committee for review. For students intending to graduate in a specific semester, the degree completion deadlines announced in the Academic Calendar apply.

Requirements: Within one month of completing your dissertation and receiving the concurrence of your dissertation chair, you may defend your dissertation. The following requirements must also have been met:

  • You must submit an Intent to Receive a Degree form (available on the Registrar's Form Index) to the Registrar's Office for the term in which you expect to graduate by the deadline for submission established in the Academic Calendar. Please remember that if you submit an Intent to Receive a Degree form for one semester and must delay your graduation term for any reason, you must submit a new Intent form for the next term in which you expect to complete your degree requirements. These forms do not automatically roll over from one term to the next.
  • You have maintained your student status and are enrolled in Doctoral Study during the semester of your intended defense. Completion of your dissertation and your readiness to defend is an indicator that you are on the threshold of graduation. Make sure that you are enrolled in Doctoral Study for the semester in which you will complete your degree requirements. Enrollment in Doctoral Study is not required for Summer unless you were not enrolled during the previous Spring term. Consult the Registrar's Office if you are uncertain of your need to enroll in Doctoral Study.
  • Your completed dissertation has been delivered to all members of your committee at least two weeks before the scheduled defense date.
  • Committee members are given at least two weeks advanced notice of the date the dissertation defense is scheduled.
  • All members of your dissertation committee must agree to the date and time of your defense. Committee members must also be present at the defense, whether physically or by other technologically-assisted means. As a minimum, you and one committee member must be physically present in the same location.
  • The dissertation defense is a formal, public event of our academic community and requires announcement by the Registrar's Office. Students must submit a completed Request for Dissertation Defense Announcement form (available on the Registrar's Form Index) to the Registrar's Office at least two weeks before the dissertation defense to provide advanced notice to the CGU community. The dissertation defense wil not be considered official and will not be recorded without appropriate prior announcement of the defense. See the Academic Calendar for deadlines.

A Final Approval Form for Doctoral Students (available on the Registrar's Form Index) must be submitted to the Registrar's Office to document the student's successful defense and approval of the dissertation itself. If revisions are requested to the dissertation during a successful dissertation defense, a separate Final Approval Form for Doctoral Students must be submitted to the Registrar's Office when the revised dissertation has been reviewed and approved. All approval forms require the signatures of all members of the dissertation committee, the dissertation chair, and the dean. Students may not graduate or receive their degrees until all of the required approvals have been received by the Registrar's Office and the student has submitted the final, approved version of the dissertation with correct formatting (see Preparing Your Dissertation for Submission) to the ProQuest ETD Administrator (see Dissertation Submission and Publication section for more information about submitting the dissertation).

On all approval forms submitted to the Registrar's Office, individual members of the committee must personally affix their own signatures or provide other written evidence of the individual's approval. Such evidence may include written documentation faxed to the Registrar's Office at (909) 607-7285 or an e-mail from an institutional or professional domain. If approval is provided by such documentation, "See attached" must be recorded on the signature line for the individual on the Final Approval Form for Doctoral Students. Under no circumstances may a committee chair, another member, or anyone else sign for a colleague.

All Final Approval Forms for Doctoral Students and the final, approved version of your dissertation must be received in the Registrar's Office by the degree completion deadline (see Academic Calendar for deadlines) in order to receive a degree for the applicable semester. Regardless of the date you complete your degree requirements; all degrees are conferred and recorded on the degree conferral date for the semester. This date is usually the last day of the semester and is published in the University's Academic Calendar.

If you do not meet the degree completion deadline, your degree may be delayed until the next semester. An additional semester of enrollment in Doctoral Study and a new Intent to Receive a Degree form may be required. Contact the Registrar's Office for specifics regarding your situation and individual requirements.

Failing the Dissertation Defense: If a student fails to successfully complete a dissertation defense, the student may be permitted, upon the recommendation of the graduate faculty in the field concerned, to take a second examination not less than three months and no more than one calendar year after the first examination. You must maintain your student status and continue to enroll in Doctoral Study. During this period, work with your dissertation chair to determine your readiness to defend again. If the second defense is failed, no further attempts are permitted.

Dissertation Dissertation


Formatting, Submission, and Publication

Formatting Requirements

For dissertations and DMA/DCM papers, see Dissertation Formatting Guidelines.

For master's theses, see Thesis Formatting Guidelines.

Submission and Publication Requirements

Upon committee approval of a dissertation or thesis and before a degree is awarded, the student must submit the final, approved dissertation or thesis to the Registrar's Office for publication through the ProQuest Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Administrator.  The ETD Administrator is an online tool provided by ProQuest to facilitate CGU's collection, review, approval, and publication of theses and dissertations electronically.  Documents submitted to the ETD Administrator are not eligible for publication until approved and released by CGU.  Submission must be made by the degree completion deadline posted in the Academic Calendar. Failure to meet the degree completion deadline may result in delays to the student's degree conferral term.

Using the Proquest ETD Administrator

Only the student author may create an ETD Administrator account, which will provide lifetime access to the publisher.  Students may create an account in the ETD Administrator anytime during the manuscript preparation process.  Creating an account early in the process allows students to carefully consider the publication options, review formatting requirements, as well as consult a library of publication aids.

To create an account, visit You must submit information in the requested progression at the outset of establishing your author account. Until your dissertation is submitted through the ETD Administrator, you may return to the intial data input pages and revise information or requests on your account. During the submission process, students have the ability to:

  • Create a PDF version of the manuscript
  • Choose from various publication options for the manuscript, such as its appearance in internet search results and embargo periods
  • Order printed and bound versions of the manuscript
  • Communicate with ProQuest, the publisher, even after graduation

After submission, the Registrar's Office will review the manuscript to ensure CGU's formatting guidelines (available on the Registrar's Form Index) have been followed.  Students will be notified via Email about any required formatting revisions and given instructions about how to submit a revised version to the ETD Administrator.

The Registrar's Office will approve the manuscript submission once all formatting revisions are complete and all other graduation requirements are verified. Accepted manuscripts are released to ProQuest for publishing after the student's degree is posted.  


While not required, students may also wish to submit their thesis or dissertation to Scholarship@Claremont, which is is an open repository, a worldwide showcase, and a publishing forum of The Claremont Colleges Library. Archiving locally, Scholarship@Claremont provides global access to researchers and enables publicity for the intellectual and scholarly work of the faculty, students, and staff of The Claremont Colleges.  This repository ensures opportunities for freely accessible discovery of comprehensive and timely reviews of literature, recent and time-sensitive research, creative and artistic expression, and other scholarship that benefits authors and the world community alike.

Scholarship@Claremont provides a number of services to help student authors track the impact of their scholarly work and can:

  • Download Counts: You can receive reports of how often your work is downloaded by readers.
  • Referrals: Reader inquiries can be referred direct to you for follow up. Inquiries may include questions about your work or even requests for speaking engagements and other collaboration.

Some of the benefits students may experience as a result of submitting a thesis or dissertation to Scholarship@Claremont are:

  • Increase in Citations: Library and Archives Canada has reported a dramatic increase in citations of student work directly related to posts in an open access repository. This impact is estimated at from 50 to 250%.
  • Worldwide Exposure: The electronic medium promotes professional visibility and enhances your scholarly reputation among colleagues, institutions, and the global community.
  • Global Access: Not only do colleagues, collaborators, and potential collaborators have access to your work, but the medium expedites accessibility for prospective employers, governmental grants and other funding agencies, foreign constituents, and other global entities.

Survey of Earned Doctorates Survey of Earned Doctorates


Claremont Graduate University (CGU) participates in the national Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other federal agencies.

Each year, the SED compiles information such as educational histories, funding sources, and post-doctoral plans of approximately 50,000 new research doctoral graduates from U.S. institutions.  The data in the Doctorate Records File (DRF) is then used for a variety of purposes that benefit educational programming and funding, labor market analytics, and industry and professional market forecasting.

The SED has been collecting information since the 1920's. For additional information, go to the SED website at

All CGU doctoral graduates are encouraged to complete the SED as part of their degree completion process.

  • How
  • When
    • Any time after submitting your Intent to Receive a Degree to CGU.
    • But no later than 60 days following your degree conferral.
  • Why
    • To ensure you and CGU are represented in the national survey results.
    • CGU is notified when each graduate submits a survey.
    • Graduates who do not submit a survey are contacted direct by the NSF.


  • For more information about the SED, go to
  • About CGU's participation, contact the Registrar's Office by e-mail or (909) 621-8285.


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