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Doctoral Student Information

University policies related to doctoral work may be found in the UMass Lowell Online Graduate Academic Catalog. There are additional policies pertaining to doctoral candidates in the College of Education which take precedent over university policies. These policies are listed below and/or appear in specific program handbooks.

New Doctoral Student Guide (pdf)

Policy Regarding Doctoral Progress

Effective September 2011

Doctoral candidates (Ed.D. and Ph.D.) are expected to work closely with their dissertation chair and committee to develop a dissertation proposal. Students are expected to make progress during each semester in which they are registering for dissertation credit, and faculty are required to assign a grade to indicate progress or unsatisfactory progress during a semester. Students who do not make progress on a regular basis are at jeopardy of not completing the dissertation within the eight year time limit. Any student who has not yet defended her or his proposal and who receives a grade of U for three consecutive semesters or receives 15 credits or more graded U shall be dismissed from the doctoral program.

Doctoral candidates are required to pass a proposal defense prior to proceeding to data collection and analysis. A candidate who does not successfully defend his or her proposal after two attempts is subject to dismissal from the program. The eight year limit for completion of a dissertation does not mean that proposal defenses may continue indefinitely. The normal appeals process for academic matters applies.

Proposal Defense

In order to defend the proposal, Ed.D. and Ph.D. candidates must be registered for a minimum of three dissertation credits. Proposal hearings are generally scheduled within the semester; however, with the permission of the entire Committee, proposals may be scheduled during intersession or after the end of the summer session (effective September 2011).

Post-Proposal Dissertation Credit Requirements

All students, including international students and TA's and RA's, who have successfully defended their dissertation proposal and have completed 12 credits of dissertation research, may petition to reduce their dissertation research registration to a minimum of 1 credit/semester until their dissertation is complete. They should use the Academic Petition (pdf) form to make this request.

Domestic (U.S. citizens) students who are not TA's or RA's may register for continuing matriculation when they are working on their dissertation, but are not using university resources (including faculty time, library, recreation center, parking, health insurance). All students must be registered for a minimum of 1 credit when they defend the dissertation.

Continued Matriculation

All graduate students must maintain matriculation when not enrolled in a course by registering for continuing matriculation and pay the required fee. Continued Matriculation does not entitle a student to any use of university facilities, faculty time or resources, but only maintains an active record and provides for appropriate mailings. Students may not defend a proposal or dissertation while registered for Continued Matriculation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctoral students should work closely with their advisor, but the following questions are commonly asked and answers are provided in the FAQ.