Degree Requirements: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Purpose of the Degree

The Ph.D. is an intensive, theory-based study of education for scholars who want to pursue careers in research or teaching at colleges and universities. Doctoral students are expected to become competent in both qualitative (action research, case study, ethnographic methods) and quantitative (statistical data analysis, survey research and measurement) research methodologies, Students gain hands-on experience and practical competencies through service-based placements, mentorships, and research assistantships, and undertake independent research culminating in a dissertation that makes an original contribution to knowledge about educational practice or policies.

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Course Requirements

At least 12 course units of graduate work must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania. One course must be a research seminar in the area of specialization. The program of study may include work completed for the master’s degree. Up to eight course units may be transferred from another institution upon approval of a student’s advisor. All degree students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 for all courses applied toward the degree.

The faculty determines the curricular requirements for its program. The course of study can include a combination of specific required courses, electives, teaching, independent study or laboratory rotations, colloquia, and demonstration through examination of comprehensive knowledge in the major field.

A student who enters the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree will be expected to spend two to three years taking 3-4 course units a semester before satisfying the graduate group’s academic requirements, passing the required examinations and being Advanced to Candidacy. Faculty may require more extensive preparation through additional work, especially those programs with substantial language requirements. Students who enter with a master’s degree or other transfer credit may satisfy the formal course requirements more quickly. Faculty has flexibility to establish the optimal timetable and requirements for their own students and to respond to the specific academic needs of individual students.  

The customary maximum load for a Ph.D. student is four course units each semester; exceptions for a fifth course unit may be made in extraordinary cases upon approval of the graduate dean.

Faculty may establish examination requirements in addition to the University’s standards.

Residency Requirement

All doctoral students must satisfy a residency requirement as a condition for earning the degree. The residency requirement is defined as completion of at least four course units within two successive terms in University courses approved for graduate credit by the Graduate School of Education. A maximum of two of these four course units may be taken in summer sessions continuous with the academic year term in which the remaining course units are taken (e.g., spring/fall, fall/spring, summer/fall or spring/summer). This requirement may be fulfilled at any time after the student has been admitted to GSE for post-baccalaureate coursework. Some programs require full-time study in every semester. Consult the division for more information.

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Inquiry Skills

  • All Ph.D. students in education must demonstrate competence in the use of at least one inquiry skill relevant to scholarship and/or professional practice in their field of specialization
  • Inquiry skills may include empirical research skills, appropriate foreign languages, computer programming or other skills specified by the specialization
  • Courses used to satisfy the inquiry skill requirement do not count toward the minimum number of course units required for the degree

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Transfer of Credit

GSE will, under certain conditions, accept equivalent credit toward the degree. Up to eight graduate level CU’s taken at GSE, Penn, or another institution, may count toward the PhD. degree. Transfer credit is not automatically accepted or applied toward the doctoral degree. Students must follow formal procedures to request the application of transfer credit toward GSE degree requirements. The acceptance of transfer credits does not override specialization requirements. In order to receive transfer credit students must have earned a grade of at least “B” for all courses. Grades of “Satisfactory” or “Pass” are not transferable. No academic work done while the student was an undergraduate will be counted toward a graduate degree with the exception of courses taken when the student was an official submatriculant in the Graduate School of Education. The following conditions apply to transfer of credit:

  • Graduate credits were earned at the University not more than 10 years prior to admission to the doctoral program (see 4 below).
  • A maximum of four course units may be counted toward the degree for courses taken while a student is enrolled in the College of General Studies.
  • A maximum of eight course units of graduate level coursework earned at GSE, Penn, or another institution within the preceding 10-year period may be accepted upon recommendation of the advisor.
  • or courses taken more than 10 years prior to admission to the Ed.D. program, within or outside the University, students must show that:
  1. a grade of “A” or “B” has been earned;
  2. the faculty advisor and the division chair agree that the courses are acceptable;
  3. the student has enrolled in relevant graduate-level courses or engaged in appropriate academic activity after completion of courses for which credit is requested;
  4. when there is not agreement between the student’s advisor and division chair, the student must pass an examination in the content areas for which credit is requested.

Process for Approval of Transfer of Credit

Students must be admitted to a degree program before a request for transfer of credit can be considered. To request transfer of credit, students must:

  • Obtain the appropriate transfer of credit request form.
  • Complete the form in consultation with their advisor and obtain the necessary approvals from the advisor and division chair.
  • Submit an official copy of the transcript
  • Student must matriculate at least one semester before submitting the transfer of credit form.

Penn In Touch will reflect the transfer credits on your transcript.

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Advisor

  • Each student is assigned a faculty advisor upon admission
  • The advisor is responsible for helping to plan the program of study, guiding the student’s work until completion of coursework and the preliminary examination, and monitoring the student’s academic progress
  • If the advisor judges the quality of an advisee’s work to be inadequate, he or she may recommend to the division chair that the student not be allowed to continue in the program
  • Students should contact their advisors individually in the first semester of the student’s first year before the drop/request period has concluded
  • After this initial meeting, students and advisors are mutually obligated to stay in regular contact, preferably twice a year, but always at the start of the academic year to review progress and consider alterations to the program of study
  • The planned program of study should be developed between the advisor and advisee in the first semester of the first year of study, and can be revised over time
  • Students on dissertation should also communicate with their advisors twice a year so that progress is closely monitored
  • Students should always consult the GSE website or the Student Records Office for the most current academic policies, procedures and deadlines for completing academic requirements
  • To request a change in advisor, a student should see the division coordinator for procedures
  • Once a student has formed a dissertation committee, the committee chair automatically becomes the student’s advisor

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Evaluations and Examinations

Qualifications Evaluation

A Qualifications Evaluation of each student is conducted after the completion of 6 but not more than 8 CU’s. The evaluation is designed by the specialization faculty and may be based on an examination or on a review of a student’s overall academic progress. Satisfaction of this requirement is necessary in order to continue in the graduate program and is recorded in the student’s academic record. The student and the school’s graduate office must be notified of the outcome of the evaluation.

Eligibility for Qualifications Evaluation (Program Candidacy)

Program candidacy review must be completed after completion of 6, but not more than 8 CU’s, and no later than the fourth semester of coursework. Eligibility will be assessed according to the following criteria: satisfactory performance in courses as shown by the student’s GSE transcript and faculty recommendations; a coherent course of study as illustrated by the planned program of study and prospectus; and a demonstration of the ability to do research as demonstrated by a research paper.

Procedure for Qualifications Evaluation

  • Specialization faculty reviews the student dossier.
  • Specialization faculty votes to recommend student for program candidacy.
  • Division faculty votes whether to admit student to program candidacy.
  • The student is given feedback in conference or in writing about the decision, his/her performance and future course of study.

Students who are recommended for program candidacy are permitted to continue in the program. Students who do not pass program candidacy are withdrawn from the degree program.

Appeal of Qualifications Evaluation

Students may appeal to the division chair if the program faculty does not admit them to program candidacy. Students may appeal to the Committee on Degrees if the division does not admit them to program candidacy

Candidacy Examination

A Candidacy Examination on the major subject area is required. This examination is normally held after the candidate has completed all required courses. Feedback will be provided to the student within one month. Satisfactory completion of the Candidacy Examination requirement is recorded in the student’s academic record. Upon successful completion of the Candidacy Examination, the student is advanced to Candidacy. Normally, a student should advance to candidacy by the end of the third year. The maximum time limit for a student to be advanced to candidacy is five years, after which time the student will be dropped from the rolls.

  • Doctoral candidacy is conferred upon successful completion of the candidacy examination (formerly doctoral preliminary examination).
  • The Ph.D. student must pass a candidacy examination in the field of his or her major subject
  • The candidacy examination is a test of knowledge in the student's area of specialization, requiring students to demonstrate knowledge and reasoning in the key content areas in their specialization as defined by their academic division, including:
  1. depth and breadth of familiarity with the literature in their field of study
  2. synthesis of material across core content courses taken in the doctoral program
  3. ability to critically analyze issues in the field
  4. knowledge and understanding of the intellectual domains and research paradigms relevant to their field of study
  5. the ability to present cogent arguments including the effective use of evidence
  • Examination results should be communicated to students within four weeks of the date the examination was taken
  • Members of the Ph.D. examination committees must be drawn from the standing or associated faculties
  • Students are permitted two opportunities to pass the candidacy examination; if they are unsuccessful after two tries, they will be withdrawn from the doctoral program

To be eligible to take the candidacy examination, students must:

  • Have passed the Qualifications Evaluation;
  • Have the recommendation of their advisor
  • Submit evidence satisfactory to the advisor of capacity to do research in their area of specialization
  • Be registered for the term in which the exam is taken
  • Register to take the candidacy examination by the deadline listed in the academic calendar.

Final Defense

A public, oral presentation of the dissertation is required. The presentation must either include or be followed by an oral examination.

Satisfactory Progress

  • All doctoral students are reviewed by the faculty on a regular basis to evaluate their progress
  • Evaluation is based on a review of coursework, fieldwork, progress and other relevant criteria
  • All students are expected to make steady progress toward completion of degree requirements unless a leave of absence has been granted
  • Lack of significant progress in completing degree requirements for two consecutive years (exclusive of time when on official leave of absence) will automatically terminate enrollment

Time Limitation

Beginning in 2010-11, the University’s maximum time limit for completion is ten years after matriculation. Graduate students who have been dropped after ten years may petition the graduate group to return as a student for a maximum of one year in order to achieve recertification and defend the dissertation.  The faculty has no obligation to continue working with a student who has been dropped, nor is there any presumption that a graduate group will respond favorably to a petition for re-admission. If the faculty wishes to recommend re-admission, it must present to the graduate dean a list of faculty members willing to serve as a dissertation committee and a detailed, realistic plan of how the student will, within one year of reenrollment, achieve recertification, pass the dissertation examination, and submit the final copy of the dissertation. If re-enrollment is approved by the graduate dean, such a student must pay reduced rate tuition for two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester.

Recertification

A student who is re-enrolled after expiration of the time limit must satisfy the recertification criteria designed by their graduate group and approved by the Graduate Council of the Faculties (or retake and pass the Candidacy Examination). The new deadline for completion of all requirements for the Ph.D., including recertification, shall be within one year.

Ph.D. students in the Graduate Group in Education who have not completed all their degree requirements within 10 years of matriculation may submit a petition to the Graduate School of Education's Committee on Degrees for a one-year extension. The petition must be submitted to the Committee on Degrees at least 2 months prior to the end of the 10th academic year. To qualify for an extension, the student must meet the following four conditions:

  1. The student must have had his or her dissertation proposal accepted, the Ballot Form signed by the student's Dissertation Committee, and submitted to the Student Record Office.
  2. The student must submit a progress report and plan to his or her dissertation committee. The purpose of this report/plan is: to document which degree requirements the student has completed; to provide a rationale for why he or she has been unable to complete all the requirements within the 10 year period; and to provide a timeline/schedule of steps for completion of the remaining requirements within a one-year extension. The student's chair and a majority of his or her dissertation committee must review and approve the progress report and plan.
  3. The student must then submit the progress report and plan to the Committee on Degrees for their review and approval.
  4. The student must re-take a Candidacy exam that documents familiarity with the current status of their field.

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The Dissertation

The final stage and culmination of doctoral study is preparation of a dissertation. The dissertation is an independently produced piece of original research on a problem in education prepared under the supervision of a dissertation committee. The dissertation should show high attainment and power of independent research, and represent a significant contribution to human knowledge. A GSE Ph.D. dissertation should include:

  • A research problem that is clearly located in the relevant literature;
  • A research question(s) or research hypothesis(es);
  • A theoretical orientation or conceptual framework that is used to provide some of the background and rationale for:
  1. a description of the significance of the dissertation research, and
  2. the selection of the research methods approach(es) chosen to investigate the research question(s) or hypothesis(es);
  • Description of approach(es)/method(s);
  • Data presentation and analysis (i.e., findings, results); and
  • Implications for theory, policy, practice, and/or further research

Multiple authorship of dissertations is allowed as long as no publication is used as dissertation material for more than one student and as long as the candidate includes for publication a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work.

Dissertations based on joint work with other researchers are allowed provided that in such cases a unique and separate dissertation is presented by each degree candidate. The candidate must include a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. Authorship of a dissertation by more than one degree candidate is not allowed.

Forming a Dissertation Committee

Students must consult with their advisor for assistance in selecting a group of at least three people with earned doctorates to serve as the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is responsible for evaluating their proposal for dissertation research, for supervising the preparation of a dissertation on an approved problem, and for evaluating the dissertation. Committee members should be selected on the basis of their relationship to the dissertation content.

Students must complete the doctoral preliminary and minor examinations before seeking formal approval for a dissertation committee. Upon advancement to candidacy, each student has a Dissertation Committee consisting of at least three faculty members (including at least two members of the Education Graduate Group). A list of Education Graduate Group members is available here.  The third member may be a scholar external to the University of Pennsylvania with a doctoral degree, including a qualified individual who does not hold faculty rank at a college or university. To include an external member on their dissertation committee, students must have approval from the committee chair and the Assistant Dean for Academic & Student Affairs.

The Dissertation Committee meets at least once annually with the student to review the student’s progress. The student prepares an Annual Dissertation Progress Report and the committee gives timely feedback (within one month) and confirms whether progress is satisfactory. A copy of the signed progress report is submitted to the Supervisor/Advisor and Graduate Group Chair and is documented by the school in the student’s PhD Worksheet. 

One person is designated the chair. The chair of a Ph.D. dissertation committee must be both a member of the standing faculty and a member of the Graduate Group in Education.  The dissertation committee chair becomes the official faculty advisor.

 

Approval Process for a Dissertation Committee

To formalize the committee, submit a completed Request for Appointment of the Dissertation Committee and Scheduling of the Oral Proposal Form to the Student Records Office. The committee must be formally approved before students can hold their oral proposal hearing. Allow at least three weeks for the request to be reviewed by the Assistant Dean’s office. To request a change in dissertation committee, students must complete a Request for Change of Dissertation Committee form. Changes to the committee must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.

Research on Human Subjects

Students must obtain University approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before they may conduct research on human subjects for their dissertation study. Since education research generally involves little or no risk to the participants, the University permits GSE students to apply for an expedited review by the IRB. Detailed information about these procedures is available from the Office of Research Services.

Oral Proposal

Procedure for Oral Proposal of the Dissertation

All doctoral candidates must present their dissertation proposals orally to the dissertation committee. To schedule the oral proposal, the student must:

Decide with the committee members on a day, date and time to hold the proposal

Submit the Request for Appointment of Dissertation Committee and Scheduling of Oral Proposal Form signed by the chair and each committee member to the Student Records Office at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take place. The Student Records Office will assign a room for the proposal hearing and notify the student, the committee members and the division coordinator. The notice will also be posted on the bulletin board in the second floor administrative suite.

Having passed the oral proposal, the student will be issued a signed ballot verifying that fact. A second copy of the ballot must be submitted to the Student Records Office so that this information can be added to the student’s transcript. A third copy of the ballot is for the dissertation chair’s records.

The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings.

Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances one member, or a minority of the committee, may be physically absent as long as the absent member(s) participate(s) in the oral proposal and final defense hearings.

At the oral proposal hearing, the dissertation committee will review the proposal with the student and help refine the proposed dissertation project. The committee will vote on the proposal and indicate any revisions that might be required before the student may be allowed to proceed with the dissertation research. Oral proposal hearings are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the oral proposal hearing during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members. If approval is granted, the student will be required to register for courses, or for dissertation supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the oral proposal hearing is held. After the dissertation proposal is approved, three ballots will be signed by the committee. One ballot is for the student, one for the chair, and one for the Student Records Office. Students must complete all remaining requirements for the degree within a period of four years. For an extension of time to complete the dissertation, students may petition the Committee on Degrees. Students must have the recommendation of the dissertation committee chair to be considered for an extension of this time limit.

GSE Standards for the Oral Proposal

Your committee will determine whether you pass your oral proposal hearing. Your proposal must pass the following criteria:

  1. The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and evaluated.
  2. The research question(s) are stated clearly.
  3. The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing manner.
  4. The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly described.

Standards for the Dissertation

  1. The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and evaluated.
  2. The research question(s) are stated clearly.
  3. The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing manner.
  4. The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly described.
  5. The research plan and methods are implemented effectively.
  6. The research produced trustworthy evidence that bears on the research question(s).
  7. The conclusions follow convincingly from the evidence and its interpretation.
  8. The dissertation manuscript is coherent, well structured, clearly written and is in accordance with the specifications of a standard style manual regarding grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.
  9. With appropriate revisions, the dissertation is of sufficient quality to be publishable in an academic or practice-oriented journal that is peer reviewed.

Formatting the Dissertation

Final Defense of the Dissertation

The final oral defense is approximately one and a half hours in length and is based upon the candidate’s dissertation. To schedule the final oral examination, doctoral candidates must submit the completed the Final Defense Hearing Form and abstract to the Student Records Office at least two weeks in advance of the date of the final defense. The Student Records Office schedules the meeting room and formally notifies the dissertation committee that the meeting has been scheduled. Students and Education faculty are also invited to attend these presentations.

The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings.

Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances, one member, or a minority of the committee, may be physically absent as long as the absent member(s) participate(s) in the oral proposal and final defense hearings.

At least one term must elapse between passing the preliminary examination and the final defense. At the discretion of the dissertation committee, the candidate will be recommended to the faculty of the Graduate Group in Education for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. After the final defense hearing, three ballots will be signed by the committee. One ballot is for the student, one for the chair, and one for the Student Records Office.

Final oral examinations are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the final oral examination during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members and register for Dissertation Supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the final oral examination is held.

Procedure for Scheduling the Final Defense of the Dissertation

To schedule the final defense, the student must:

  1. Mutually agree with the committee members on a day, date and time to hold the defense.
  2. Submit the Final Defense Notification form on the academic forms page of the GSE website, signed by the dissertation chair, to the Student Records Office at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take place. The Student Records Office will assign a room for the defense hearing and notify the student, the committee members and the division coordinator. The notice will also be posted on the bulletin board in the second floor administrative suite, and the building monitors.
  3. Having passed the final defense, the student will be issued a signed ballot verifying that fact. A second copy of the ballot must be submitted to the Student Records Office so this information can be added to the student’s transcript. A third copy of the ballot is for the dissertation chair’s records.

Required Documents for Ph.D. Dissertations

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS FOR PH.D. DISSERTATIONS

  • Dissertation submitted to ProQuest ETD Administrator
  • Upon approval of dissertation on ProQuest, one copy printed on 100% acid-free paper
  • One Title Page printed on 100% acid-free paper with chairperson’s signature
  • Click here for submission stepsForm 152 (Acceptance of Dissertation) from the student’s file in the Student Records Office
  • Form 153 (Certificate of Dissertation), from the student’s file in the Student Records Office
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates, link sent by Grad Arts & Sciences
  • Survey of Doctoral Students’ Opinion, link sent by Grad Arts & Sciences
  • Receipt showing zero balance if balance was recently paid
  • Click here for PhD dissertation submission instructions

Acceptance of the Dissertation

The Graduate Group reports to the graduate office regarding acceptance of the Ph.D. dissertation and its suitability for immediate publication by the prescribed deadline. Here is how the process works. Once the dissertation is approved, Form 152 (Acceptance of Dissertation) is signed by the entire committee. The student brings the completed form to the Student Records Office. When the student is ready to file the dissertation with the Graduate Group Chair for signature, the student picks up Form 152 with Form 153, (Certification of Dissertation), at the Student Records Office. Dissertations must follow the format prescribed in the Dissertation Manual, which describes in detail the requirements for preparing and filing the dissertation. Please allow three weeks for Graduate Group Chair approval before dissertation is filed with the Graduate Group in Arts and Sciences.

Publication and Submission of the Dissertation

Please click here for instructions on submitting PhD dissertations.

Tuition

Ph.D. students will be charged Full Tuition until they have completed 4 years of full-time study. The time may be as brief as three years if a student enters with credits from a post-baccalaureate degree program or successfully completes the Ph.D. in less than 4 years.

If the student has not earned the Ph.D. degree by the end of the 4 years, the student will be charged Reduced Tuition until the degree is awarded, or for a maximum of 6 additional years. Continuous enrollment is required through year ten (or until graduation), with exception for approved leave.

After a maximum of 6 years at Reduced Tuition, the student ceases to be enrolled. (See above, Time Limit for Completion of the Ph.D. Degree.)

With permission and recertification from the graduate group (see section above, “Recertification”), a student may reenroll for a final year in order to defend and deposit the dissertation. Such a student must pay reduced rate tuition for a final two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester.

Childbirth and Adoption

A student in a Ph.D. program at Penn is eligible for time off of eight weeks for the birth or adoption of a child. The student must notify the graduate group chair and Advisor/Supervisor in writing, at an early date, of his/her plans to initiate a “Time Off” period, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.

  • Normally the “Time Off” period commences within two weeks of the birth or adoption.
  • During the “Time Off” period, the student remains enrolled full-time. In order to facilitate a rapid return, s/he may participate in the program as fully as s/he deems appropriate. By remaining on full-time status, student visa status and loan repayment schedules, if any, will remain unchanged.
  • The student is entitled to academic accommodation including relief from academic requirements, such as postponement of exams and course requirements.
  • A student receiving stipend support is entitled to continuation of support during the “Time Off” period as follows:
  1. Students receiving stipends from University/school funds are entitled to draw support for eight weeks during the academic year.
  2. Students funded by government grants or other external funding sources are entitled to benefits as determined by the funding agency.

Family Leave of Absence

A student in the Ph.D. program at Penn may take an unpaid Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition. University policy on family leave is available in the Pennbook, here.

  1. Students may take a Family Leave of Absence for one or two semesters.
  2. The student is expected to notify the graduate group chair and adviser in writing of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at an early date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
  3. Family Leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  4. During the period of Family Leave, the student may arrange to continue Student Health Insurance, but is responsible for the payment of his or her own premiums. Upon paying a fee, students on approved Family Leave will retain their PennCard, e-mail accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  5. Funding commitments from the institution are deferred until the student returns from Family Leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  6. Service requirements (e.g., teaching, research) will be met by the student following return from Family Leave.
  7. Requests for extension of Family Leave beyond one year, or for repeated Family Leaves, may be made. Approval of an extension, deferral of funding, and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the Graduate Dean.

*IMPORTANT: If you anticipate adding a dependent (e.g., newborn) to your Penn Student Insurance Policy while on Family Leave, you must remain in ACTIVE student status at the start of the fall semester. Students should arrange with their school/division to maintain full-time student status for at least 31 days from the start of fall classes, after which time the Family Leave status can be recorded in the Student Records System. After the birth/adoption, contact the SHS Insurance Coordinator to enroll the dependent. The premium for dependent coverage is payable directly to Aetna Student Health.

Graduation

The GSE academic calendar lists the deadlines for completing degree requirements in order to graduate in any academic term. All degree candidates must apply to graduate on-line at the beginning of the term in which they plan to receive the degree. Ph.D. students must apply on-line to graduate with Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Failure to apply for graduation by the published deadline will make it impossible to receive the degree at the time desired.

GSE holds a commencement ceremony each year in May for students who have completed degrees during the past academic year. Doctoral students who have successfully defended their dissertation by the last day of graduate classes listed on the spring semester of the GSE academic calendar may also participate in the ceremony in May. August graduates who participate in the May commencement ceremony:

  1. Must apply to graduate in August by the deadline listed in the GSE academic calendar.
  2. Will have their diplomas mailed to them by the Office of the Secretary of the University three months after they have completed their degree requirements.

August and December graduates are also invited to participate in the spring commencement exercises that follow completion of their degrees.

Doctoral students who have successfully passed the final defense of the dissertation may participate in the May graduation ceremony even if they will officially graduate in the next term. The final defense must be held, and the ballot submitted to the Student Records Office, by the last day of the spring semester.

Certificate of Advanced Study

Students who complete all requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy except the preliminary examination and the dissertation may apply to the Assistant Dean to receive a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS). The CAS is a form of recognition for completing significant doctoral level study in an educational field. Students who elect to receive a CAS will not be eligible to re-enter a degree program and complete the doctorate at a later date. A CAS may be awarded to students matriculated in the Graduate School of Education who:

  • are in good standing;
  • have completed  all requirements for an approved  doctoral  specialization of study except the preliminary examinations  and the dissertation; and
  • are recommended by the faculty of the appropriate program.

The certificate contains:

  • The name of the School and the University;
  • The name of the student;
  • The title of the field of specialization in which the advanced  study was completed;
  • The signature of the Dean of the Graduate School of Education.