Doctoral Degree Milestones

Milestone Summary

Select a milestone to jump to details.

In the first half of your program

  1. Supervisory Committee
  2. Program of Studies filed upon completion of 45 credit hours (including transfer credits).
  3. Research Responsibility (preliminary)


  1. By TBA or at least 7 months before final oral exam: Submit applications for Candidacy
  2. Academic Residency

In the final year of your program

  1. By TBA: Application for Graduation; Hooding Participation
  2. By TBA (must be submitted and approved by Graduate Studies at least 2 weeks before dissertation defense): Application for Final Oral Exam, Removal of Incomplete Grades (non-999), Dissertation (preliminary), Research Responsibility (final)
  3. By TBA Successfully completed the Final Oral Examination (defense)
  4. By TBA: Dissertation (final), PDF Upload, and Depositing
  5. Commencement and Hooding

Doctoral Programs Coordinator

Kelsey Sims
Kelsey Sims
Office of Graduate Studies

Throughout these milestones, Kelsey will be answering your questions and reviewing your materials.

The PDF forms on this page are Reader-Enabled: you can type in the form, save the PDF on your computer, then later reopen the file and change what you typed — if you use a current version of Adobe Acrobat software, such as the free Acrobat Reader. Other PDF-reading software may or may not support these features. See also: Troubleshooting Forms.

Milestone Detail: First half of program

  • Appointment of the Supervisory Committee

    The committee must consist of at least four graduate faculty, or non-graduate faculty approved to perform specified graduate faculty duties.

    • One member must be an NU graduate faculty member from outside the department or area in which the doctorate is to be granted.
    • If a minor is sought, the committee should include a representative from the minor department. This member can also act as the Outside Representative.
    • If nominating a faculty member from outside the University of Nebraska system, submit the Appointment of Special Member Form and the faculty member's CV.

    For full policy, see Supervisory Committee in the Graduate Catalog.

    Form: Appointment of Supervisory Committee

    Submit completed form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator prior to the completion of 45 credit hours, exclusive of research tools or language requirements. You will be notified by email when your committee is approved.

    To later change committee members, the student's advisor must notify the Doctoral Programs Coordinator by submitting the Change of Committee Form, listing the entire committee as it will stand after the change.

  • Program of Studies

    The doctorate degree requires a minimum of 90 total credit hours, including a minimum of 12 hours (maximum 55) of dissertation. At the time of the filing of the Program of Studies, there should be at least 45 hours remaining to be taken, exclusive of research tools, language requirements, or collateral courses.

    For full policy see Program of Studies in the Graduate Catalog.

    Form: Program of Studies
    How-To Video: Preparing Your Program

    Submit completed form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator within the same term (semester or summer) as approval of the Supervisory Committee.

    Any changes to the Program of Studies after submitting it to Graduate Studies are made via a written memo/email from the student's advisor to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator, outlining the additions, deletions, or substitutions.

  • Research Responsibility

    Speak with your advisor regarding the need for approvals to conduct research with animals or human subjects.

Milestone Detail: Mid-program

  • Application for Candidacy

    Form: Application for Admission to Candidacy

    When research tools have been completed and comprehensive examinations are passed, and by date TBD, submit this form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator.

    For full policy, including registration requirements, see Candidacy in the Graduate Catalog.

    Registration is required during candidacy

    Once candidacy is established, registration is required each fall and spring until the student graduates. Failure to register will result in termination of candidacy and program.

  • Academic Residency

    Satisfy the academic residency requirement before you schedule your final oral exam. The Doctoral Programs Coordinator will note this on your Program of Studies.

    For full policy, see Academic Residency in the Graduate Catalog.

Milestone Detail: Second half of program

  • Preparation for Commencement and Hooding

    1. Complete the Application for Graduation form in MyRED at the start of your intended graduation term, by date TBD.

      • Without this form, a diploma will not be ordered for you and your graduation date will be postponed.
      • For summer only, this deadline is earlier than the Registrar's overall deadline.
      • The form is available in MyRED only after your Program of Studies has been processed by Graduate Studies and only after the end of the prior term. Contact the Doctoral Programs Coordinator if you have questions about your access to this form.
    1. Submit your completed Hooding Participation form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator within one month of the beginning of the term in which you plan to graduate — as an email attachment, on paper, or by fax.

      Form: Hooding Participation

  • Write dissertation, get approval to proceed with final oral exam

    Complete these steps by date TBD.

    1. Dissertation: Preparing a Dissertation and How-to Video: Preparing a Dissertation
    2. Committee approval: Form: Application for Final Oral Examination
      Your Supervisory Committee Chair(s) and two additional committee readers must approve your dissertation and abstract and indicate their approval by signing your form.
      • The scheduled time, date, and location of the final oral exam must be recorded on the form; it must be when a majority of the committee, including the chair(s), can attend and no later than TBA.
      • For full policy see Final Oral Exam in the Graduate Catalog.
    1. Graduate Studies approval: Submit the following to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator.
      • On paper: Your completed Application for Final Oral Exam form, with the signatures of the two readers and advisor(s).
      • By email: Your dissertation, including title page and abstract. The formatting will be reviewed and you will be notified of any needed changes. No content will be reviewed and the dissertation doesn’t have to be in final format.
    2. Related items:
      • Research responsibility followup: If applicable, provide official letter showing IRB/IACUC approval.
      • Removal of incomplete grades: All incomplete grades for courses on the program of studies (except dissertation 999) must be replaced by grades to satisfy degree requirements.
  • Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)

    The final day the oral exam can be held is TBA.

    Form: Report of Completion
    Type the top section ("Student and Program") and bring a printout to your exam for signatures.

    Supervisory committee members present for the oral exam must sign. Your advisor should use this form to submit a grade for all dissertation hours previously graded as Incomplete or No Report. This is placed in your permanent record as proof of completion of your degree.

  • Finalize dissertation

    The Supervisory Committee has the right to recommend changes in the abstract and the dissertation at the time of the final oral examination. Such changes, should they be requested, normally are made by the student in consultation with the Supervisory Committee Chair and are incorporated in the final versions of the abstract and dissertation that will be uploaded to ProQuest and deposited in Love Library.

    1. Final revisions: Finalize the electronic version of your dissertation. Be certain that it is exactly as you want it: the body is not checked by anyone other than the author for pagination, spelling, grammar, or typos.
    2. Create the PDF: Prepare the complete dissertation — including title page and abstract — in one PDF file in accordance with Preparing a Dissertation. For assistance refer to Common PDF Issues and Their Solutions or call Paul Royster.
    3. Final review: Send the PDF to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator as an email attachment. She will review your PDF and notify you when it's approved for upload.
  • Upload approved dissertation PDF

    Upload only after approval by Doctoral Programs Coordinator

    There will be no opportunity for changes in the manuscript after it has been uploaded.

    1. Preparation: Ensure that your PDF is the final version of your dissertation, and consult your supervisory committee chair about any need for embargo, copyright, or bound copies.
      • An embargo is a delay in release of your dissertation, typically for patent, publishing, or security reasons. English creative writing students should do this differently to maximize the time available for embargo; contact Doctoral Programs Coordinator for information.
      • When deciding whether to have ProQuest register a copyright for you, refer to Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis. A copyright incurs additional fees when depositing, and you may need to get permission from others if you used their materials (charts, diagrams).
      • Although bound copies are not overseen or required by Graduate Studies, you may need (for departmental use) and/or choose (for personal use) to arrange for the binding of one or more copies of your dissertation. Any printing and binding needs are between students and their departments (and ProQuest or Printing Services or other binderies).
    1. Upload to ProQuest:
      • What to Submit: Final dissertation in .pdf format.

        ProQuest will recognize you are a UNL student and not require payment for basic upload. If placing an embargo, ProQuest will delay the distribution of your dissertation. You will need to be specific about the length of time.

        If requesting copyright registration through ProQuest, which is optional, complete the additional ProQuest form and pay the associated fee.

      • When to Submit: After final formatting approval has been given by Graduate Studies. No later than:
        • April 23: May 2021 Graduation
        • July 30: August 2021 Graduation
        • December 3: December 2021 Graduation
      • Submit to: ProQuest
    2. Upload to UNL Digital Commons: Instructions are at If placing an embargo, do not upload to Digital Commons.

    For assistance with either upload, contact Paul Royster.

  • Final Steps: Depositing

    All steps must be complete by TBA.

    1. Online: Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates (Ph.D. only).
      • No need to print the completion confirmation; an electronic notice is sent to Graduate Studies.
      • This survey is required because of its importance in giving national funding agencies demographic information about schools they are assisting. See also: SED FAQ.
    2. Pay $25 dissertation processing fee by credit card (checklist item in MyRed).
    1. At Graduate Studies (101 Seaton): Present materials to be checked/stamped:
      • Completed Report of Completion form with committee and bursar signatures
      • Two abstracts (one for the library, one for Graduate Studies). Do not staple.
      • One title page
      • ProQuest upload confirmation email printout
      • Electronic Dissertation Information Form
    2. Dissertation (999) Grades: If not reported on Report of Completion, these are submitted to the Office of the University Registrar by the chair of the supervisory committee. Includes previous "incompletes" and "no reports."