All doctoral students need to establish academic residency to ensure their doctoral program is reasonably compact, continuous, and cohesive, and that a substantial portion is in fact done at and under close supervision by the University.
In order to assure that students are under careful advisement and mentoring throughout their careers, a Supervisory Committee is established before a doctoral student has accumulated 45 credit hours including any transfer hours but excluding research or language tools.
The Supervisory Committee is appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies based upon a recommendation of the departmental or program Graduate Committee in the student’s major prior to the approval of the program of study.
The Supervisory Committee consists of at least four resident Graduate Faculty members.
The Chair of a doctoral student’s committee serves as the advisor and mentor of the student. Once the student’s research focus has been determined, the Chair
All members of the committee serve as additional resources and mentors for the student. Along with others on the committee, they vote to allow the student into candidacy, request an extension and determine the outcome of the student’s dissertation defense. Members may serve as the reader or outside representative.
Two members of the supervisory committee may be designated as readers of the student’s dissertation. They, along with the Chair, read the draft(s) of the dissertation to determine if the student is ready to defend. They sign the Application for Final Oral if the student is approved to move forward with the defense. Courtesy members may serve as readers.
One member of the committee must be external to the student’s major program but within the University of Nebraska system. If the student is seeking a minor, the graduate faculty member representing the student’s minor may serve as the Outside Representative. He or she may serve as a reader on the student’s committee.
Faculty external to the University of Nebraska system may serve as a fifth committee member on the student’s committee. Courtesy members may serve as readers and have voting rights for the student’s committee. Only one courtesy member may serve per committee. Courtesy members may not serve as outside representatives.
Once the committee has been formed, an Appointment of Supervisory Committee form, signed by the Graduate Committee Chair, should be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies.
Changes to the Supervisory Committee may be made if the Supervisory Committee chair leaves the employ of the University, or retires or is otherwise unable to serve on the Committee. The Office of Graduate Studies must be notified immediately and a change in the Supervisory Committee made as follows:
Graduate faculty who have retired and been appointed to emeritus status may co-chair the supervisory committees of doctoral students with a resident graduate faculty member. Emeritus faculty may continue to serve as members of committees.
Changes may be made to a Supervisory Committee any time prior to the submission of the Application for Final Oral Exam using the Change of Committee form.
The UNL Graduate Faculty welcomes associations with faculty members from other institutions who might contribute unique expertise to our doctoral programs. These external experts are given courtesy membership on a doctoral student’s committee. Courtesy members
Appointment of a courtesy member is accomplished by the submission of the Courtesy Committee Member form signed by the Supervisory Committee chair and Graduate Committee chair. A current CV from the courtesy member should be submitted with this form (the CV may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org "Courtesy Member CV" in the subject line).
The Program of Studies should be filed in the Office of Graduate Studies with at least half of the program of courses remaining to be taken for the student’s doctoral program.
The Program of Studies should
The Supervisory Committee will determine what course work taken prior to filing of a Program of Studies, including hours earned toward the masters degree(s), will be accepted as part of the 90-hour program.
Any subsequent change in the program is approved by the Supervisory Committee and the action reported to the Office of Graduate Studies in writing.
A student may include a minor within their Program of Studies. A minor
A graduate faculty member from the minor program must be a member of the student’s Supervisory Committee.
There is no uniform language or research tool requirement for UNL Graduate Studies. However, certain departments have specific research tool and/or language requirements. Students should contact their Graduate Chair for specific requirements related to research and/or language tools.
All required language or research tools requirements for the student's program should be listed on the Program of Studies by the Supervisory Committee and be satisfied prior to filing the Application for Admission to Candidacy, which is due at least seven months before the scheduled final oral examination.
An Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral (IID) program of studies is designed for students who wish to tailor a program to meet their professional interests and research endeavors across programs. Although it allows a high degree of flexibility, an IID Program of Studies is a rigorous program and requires the approval of Graduate Studies as well as the participating academic units. It should not be considered an alternative for students who cannot gain admission to other programs. Also, it is not a mechanism for offering the PhD degree within units which do not have their own authorized PhD programs. An (IID) program of studies may be developed only with programs which offer a doctoral degree.
A student interested in setting up an IID program of studies may select a field of study that integrates material offered in two or more departments without meeting the specific major requirements of one program.
For information on developing an IID Program of Studies, contact the Doctoral Specialist in the Office of Graduate Studies.
When a student has substantially completed studies in the doctoral program (PhD, EdD, DMA), he/she must pass a written comprehensive examination, in the major and minor fields of study.
The Supervisory Committee arranges for comprehensive examinations — written and potentially also oral — at least seven months prior to the final oral examination (dissertation defense).
When the student has passed the comprehensive examination, satisfied language and research tool requirements of her/his approved program, and removed any provisional admission requirements, the committee will recommend to the Office of Graduate Studies the doctoral student’s admission to Candidacy by filing the Application for Admission to Candidacy for the doctoral degree, noting the dates of completing the comprehensive examination(s).
The Application for Candidacy must be filed at least seven months prior to the final oral examination (dissertation defense).
Following admission to Candidacy the student must register for at least one credit hour during each fall and spring semester until he/she receives the doctoral degree, even if the student has already met the total dissertation hours on their approved program of study. Failure to register during each academic-year semester will result in termination of the program of study.
Should the Supervisory Committee determine the student has failed the comprehensive examination, a letter must be submitted by the chair of the Supervisory Committee to the Dean of Graduate Studies stating the conditions under which the student may attempt another examination, or part thereof. Additional attempts may not be earlier than the following academic term or summer. Typically, but upon the discretion of the Supervisory Committee, only two attempts to pass the comprehensive examination will be permitted.
The dissertation is of no fixed length. It should treat a subject from the Candidate’s special field, approved by the Supervisory Committee. It should show the technical mastery of the field and advance or modify former knowledge, i.e., it should treat new material, or find new results, or draw new conclusions, or it should interpret old material in a new light. Each candidate for the degree shall submit with the dissertation an abstract of the same, not exceeding 350 words in length including the title.
For specific formatting guidelines required by the Office of Graduate Studies, the Guidelines for Preparation of an Electronic Dissertation should be consulted. Style guidelines are determined by the student’s specific discipline.
Research activities involving human subjects or live vertebrate animals may not be conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) unless the research activities have been reviewed and approved by the appropriate board or committee. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews projects involving human subject research and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews the use of animals in research. These reviews are in accordance with Federal regulations and UNL assurance documents to the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). The IRB New Protocol Submission form must be completed online via NUgrant; the Application to Use Animals is available from the Office of Research Responsibility.
The IRB and IACUC will not review projects already in progress. Approval must be secured prior to the initiation of the research. Evidence of IRB/IACUC approval must be submitted at the time the final version of the thesis or dissertation is filed.
Following approval by the major adviser, the dissertation and abstract should be presented to the Reading Committee in time for its review, and recommendation of its members at least five weeks prior to the oral examination. The Reading Committee consists of two members from the Supervisory Committee, excluding the Chair or Co-chair.
The Chair or Co-Chairs of the Supervisory Committee must file in the Office of Graduate at least three weeks prior to the oral examination either:
Once the candidate’s studies have been completed and the dissertation reviewed and approved by the Reading Committee and Supervisory Committee Chair(s), a final oral examination may be scheduled and given by the Supervisory Committee
The final oral examination for the PhD may not be scheduled unless a majority of the Supervisory Committee, including the Chair(s), are available for the examination. Exceptions may be made only by permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
An Application for Final Oral Exam should be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies no less than two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. The submission of the application form indicates that the committee chair(s) and the readers (see Reading Committee) have read the dissertation, find it suitable for a defense and grant permission for the defense to be held. All committee members should be given sufficient time to read the dissertation prior to the student's defence.
The final examination for the doctoral degree is oral and open to members of both the University community and the public.
The Supervisory Committee reports the results of the final oral examination to the Office of Graduate Studies.
Following the successful completion of the oral examination, the student should consult the instructions received at the time of filing the Application for Final Oral Exam before submitting the required items in the Office of Graduate Studies, 1100 Seaton Hall.
Only abstracts/dissertations that meet all published requirements can be approved and stamped for depositing.
Before the degree is granted, each Candidate pays a processing fee, and if desired, an additional fee to cover the cost of registering a copyright.