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PhD Candidacy & Dissertation


Prior to entering candidacy, doctoral students must have at least two submissions of research to peer-reviewed journals or other scholarly publications, such as conference proceedings and books.

Entrance into Candidacy

Candidacy is a designation controlled by the UT Graduate School. The student must formally apply to the Graduate School for admission to Candidacy, and as such the student is responsible for ascertaining the procedures required by the Graduate School at the time of their application and ensuring that they are followed. 

One element of the procedure is recommendation for Candidacy by the iSchool GSC. Entrance into candidacy may occur prior to or immediately following the successful dissertation proposal defense; as noted above, both must be completed by the end of year 4 to remain in good standing. Students must enter candidacy no later than one year after the qualifying exam. An exception may be made by the GSC at the student’s annual review, on the recommendation of faculty chairs, to account for disciplinary differences about when external committee members join doctoral committees. Given that we are interdisciplinary, the time to enter candidacy may be extended based on faculty chairs’ discretion and discussion at the students’ annual review.

Once a student is approved for candidacy by the Graduate School, the student’s enrollment requirements are governed by Graduate School policies. Following Graduate School rules, candidates are required to enroll in Dissertation INF X99W (the X signifying that the course may be taken for three, six, or nine credit hours).

Two years after admission to candidacy, the graduate school will ask the GSC whether to extend the student’s candidacy. The GSC may recommend that the student's candidacy be extended for one year or that the candidacy be terminated for lack of satisfactory academic progress. Recommendations are forwarded to the graduate dean for approval.

As discussed earlier, only under the recommendation of their committee should a doctoral student consider delaying their graduation in order to develop a more competitive dossier, so that they can further strengthen their prospects for competitive placement in their post-graduation job search.

Proposal and Dissertation Defenses

Students must publicly present and defend a proposal for a dissertation and, once the dissertation is complete, they must publicly present and defend the completed dissertation. The procedures for the two defenses are similar; they are described below together, with notes indicating anything specific to proposal or dissertation defenses.

While the rules for the dissertation proposal are determined within the School of Information, the Graduate School has specific deadlines each semester by which dissertation defenses and formal Doctoral Graduate Applications must be filed. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that a dissertation defense is scheduled early enough to meet these deadlines and to undertake any revisions prior to these deadlines.