IV. REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREES
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences establishes minimum requirements for admission and the award of degrees; departments and programs are encouraged to set higher standards. Students should therefore familiarize themselves with all the rules, regulations, and procedures relevant to their pursuit of a Graduate School degree, including those published in the Graduate School Bulletin as well as those disseminated by their department or program.
IV.A. "Thesis" and "Non-Thesis" Programs
"Thesis" programs include all doctoral degree programs (all of which require a dissertation or doctoral project), all master's degree programs in which a thesis is required, and any master's degree program offering a thesis option if the individual student has chosen the thesis option to fulfill degree requirements. "Non-thesis" programs include any master's degree program offering a thesis option if the individual student has not chosen the thesis option to fulfill degree requirements, and any master's degree program in which a thesis is neither required nor optional.
IV.B. Thesis, Doctoral Project, and Dissertation Guidelines
Before starting work on a master's thesis, doctoral project, or doctoral dissertation, the student should obtain a copy of "Guidelines for Dissertation, Doctoral Project, and Thesis Writers" from the Graduate School, available at http://grad.georgetown.edu/academics/dissertation-thesis-information/.
These guidelines specify the procedural requirements that must be met for a thesis, doctoral project, or dissertation to be formally accepted by the Graduate School. Submission of an improperly prepared thesis, doctoral project, or dissertation may delay the award of the degree.
For additional information, see Section V. B. Publication of Theses, Doctoral Projects, and Dissertations.
1. Thesis, Doctoral Project, or Dissertation Proposal
All doctoral students, and all master's students who are preparing a thesis, must file a Thesis, Doctoral Project, or Dissertation Proposal form with the Graduate School. The Proposal form is available at http://grad.georgetown.edu/academics/academic-forms/.
Students are strongly encouraged to file the Proposal during their first semester of enrollment in Thesis Research, but it must be on file before the student can defend the thesis, doctoral project, or dissertation, if the department or program requires a defense. The proposal must include an outline of the proposed topic of study, the proposed procedure or method of study, and a preliminary bibliography. The names of the Thesis Advisor and such other members of the student's examining committee as have been identified at that time will be listed on the form, and they, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies, must indicate their approval of the proposal by signing the form before it is submitted to the Graduate School.
Students whose research involves human subjects must obtain approval from the appropriate University Institutional Review Board (IRB) before beginning their research (see below). The IRB protocol number must be included on the Proposal form and a copy of the IRB’s approval memo attached before submitting the Proposal form to the Graduate School.
2. Research on Human Subjects
Federal law requires that all proposed research involving human subjects first be reviewed by an authorized institutional body in order to ensure that adequate protections are provided to those persons who are participants in or subjects of the proposed research. Research on human subjects includes not only work in the biomedical sciences but also projects in the social and behavioral sciences. Research involving on-the-street intercept surveys or detailed questionnaires delving into attitudes about a controversial subject is also considered to involve human subjects, and as such is subject to review. These legal requirements apply regardless of the source of research support. In a large number of cases research proposals fall into categories which exempt them from full review. For example, research on standard educational techniques or strategies, work using publicly available survey data where the respondents are not identified, or interviews with public officials or candidates for public office are normally exempt. However, a specific project's eligibility for exemption cannot simply be determined by the individual researcher. The law requires that institutions provide structured mechanisms for determining exemptions and that they keep records documenting the process and its results.
Students whose research will involve human subjects must contact the University's Institutional Review Board, IRB-C, at (202) 687-2618 before beginning their research. Additional information about the Institutional Review Board and required forms are available on the IRB-C website at: http://ora.georgetown.edu/irb/
IV.C. Language Requirements
Departmental and program language requirements vary. Doctoral candidates are generally required to demonstrate proficiency in two languages or research tools, although individual departments may not require such proficiency, or may require only one language or research tool. Each student must ascertain the language requirements for the major field and degree he or she is seeking. The results of language examinations (including "Native Speaker" status) are reported to the Graduate School using the Language Proficiency Examination form and are included on the student's transcript by the University Registrar.
See Section II.E.3. Language Study Scholarships for information regarding graduate student enrollment in language skills courses. As a rule, no degree credit is granted for language courses.
IV.D. The Master's Degree
The minimum requirement for a master's degree is 24 credits of coursework and submission of an acceptable thesis. Certain programs require substantially more than 24-credits in addition to a thesis.
Some departments and programs permit or require additional coursework in lieu of the thesis requirement. A minimum of six additional credits, or 30 credits total, is required for a non-thesis degree; some programs require substantially more than 30 credits.
A number of departments also require that the student demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign languages or other relevant research tools, and/or pass a comprehensive examination.
These are minimum requirements. Students should determine the actual requirements of their individual degree programs by referring to the Graduate School’s online summary of degree programs at http://grad.georgetown.edu/admissions/programs/ and to their program’s graduate student handbook.
1. Comprehensive Examination for the Master's Degree
The nature and timing of comprehensive examinations are determined by individual departments and programs. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of all rules and regulations governing comprehensive examinations in her or his degree program.
Students must be registered for coursework or for the appropriate section of Thesis Research or Continuous Registration during the semester or Summer Session in which they plan to take a comprehensive examination. See Section II.F. Standard Modes of Registration and Enrollment Time Status for further information on enrollment status and fees associated with these categories of registration.
In the event that a student's performance in the comprehensive examination is not satisfactory, the examining committee may or may not recommend a second opportunity. In extremely rare cases, a student may request the department or program to petition the Graduate School to allow a third examination. If the department or program agrees, it must submit a written request to the Dean of the Graduate School outlining the justification for a third and final examination. The decision whether to allow this exception rests with the Dean.
See Section III.A.5. Appeals Contesting Grades or Other Forms of Assessment for the process to be followed if a student contests the outcome of a Comprehensive Examination.
The Graduate School provides the department or program with the Examination Report form which reports the results of the examination. Following the completion of a Comprehensive Examination, the completed Examination Report form must be delivered directly to the University Registrar by the department or program. The completed Examination Report form is not to be given to the student. The University Registrar will record the results on the transcript. If a student who had previously failed the Comprehensive Examination receives a passing result on a second attempt (or rare third attempt), the failing result will be removed and the passing result will be posted to the graduate transcript.
In some departments and programs, the master's comprehensive examination is used as a qualifying examination for the Ph.D. program. When this is the case, the examination ballot will reflect the dual use of the examination, and the results will be recorded on the transcript as those of two separate examinations. In other programs, a separate qualifying examination may be required upon completion of master's degree requirements to determine whether a student is eligible to proceed toward the Ph.D. The qualifying examination may also be administered to students who seek advanced standing toward the Ph.D. for master's work completed at other institutions in a comparable discipline.
2. Final Defense of the Master's Thesis
A final oral defense is required for some master's theses; other programs may require only faculty review of the master's thesis.
At least one week prior to the date of the final oral defense, the Thesis Reviewers Report form must be completed by the thesis committee and submitted to the Graduate School. A defense may be held only if the reviewers are unanimous in their decision that the thesis is ready for defense.
The results of all final defenses are reported to the University Registrar on a Thesis, Doctoral Project, or Dissertation Defense Report form regardless of whether they are conducted orally before a master's thesis committee or consist of final readings of a master's thesis by the thesis advisor. A Defense Report form indicating successful defense or review of the thesis must be delivered directly to the University Registrar's Office by the department or program before the student can be cleared for graduation. The completed Defense Report form is not to be given to the student.
It is common for the faculty examiners or the thesis advisor to require students who have successfully passed the final defense to make additional revisions to the text of the thesis before it is submitted in electronic form to the Graduate School. The student’s mentor, the members of the examining committee, and the Director of Graduate Studies must all indicate their approval of the final version of the thesis. The Graduate School plans to design a web-based tool for collecting such approvals. Until such a tool is available, the faculty may indicate their approval by continuing to sign a paper “cover sheet,” by sending an email message to the Graduate School at email@example.com, or by faxing signature approval to the attention of Graduate Student Services at 202-687-7977.
The Graduate School no longer accepts paper theses. Instructions for electronic submission of thesis are available at this link: http://grad.georgetown.edu/academics/dissertation-thesis-information/. The submitted thesis will be reviewed by the Graduate School for compliance with formatting requirements. Formal acceptance of the thesis by the Graduate School is required before the student can be cleared for graduation. Theses that have been accepted by the Graduate School are available online at http://library.georgetown.edu/ir/home.
Students who have been awarded the master's degree by Georgetown University must not assume permission to pursue the doctoral degree. In all cases, an official letter of admission must be obtained from the Dean of the Graduate School before entering a doctoral program. Coursework undertaken without such permission in no way binds the University to accept the student for doctoral candidacy.
3. Award of a Master's Degree "In Passing" or as a "Terminal" Degree
A student who is enrolled in a doctoral program may be eligible to apply for award of a master's degree in the same major field. Depending on whether or not the student will continue to pursue the Ph.D., the master’s may be referred to as being awarded “in passing” or as a “terminal” degree. There is no substantive difference between a master’s degree awarded “in passing” and a “terminal” master’s. The same degree is awarded in either case and is acknowledged with identical diplomas and transcript entries.
Whether applying for an “in passing” or a “terminal” degree – and regardless of whether the candidate for a “terminal” degree is leaving the doctoral program voluntarily or involuntarily – the student must request award of the master’s degree by submitting a Student Petition form. The student must have fulfilled the requirements for the master’s degree.
IV.E. The Doctoral Degree
While it is convenient to define the requirements of the doctoral degree in terms of credits and examinations, neither a given number of credits nor routine compliance with regulations entitles a student to this degree. It is conferred solely in recognition of high attainments in the student's chosen field of scholarship. Because the required number of credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree varies from field to field, applicants are advised to check the regulations of the relevant department or program. A current list of doctoral degree programs can be found at http://grad.georgetown.edu/admissions/programs/
Doctoral candidates are generally required to demonstrate proficiency in two languages or research tools, although individual departments or programs may not require such proficiency, or may require only one language or research tool.
Beyond the completion of coursework and any required language proficiency, the Ph.D. student may be required to pass a qualifying examination, must pass a comprehensive examination, must complete and successfully defend a dissertation, and must have an acceptable copy of the dissertation formally accepted by the Graduate School. Beyond completion of coursework, the practice doctorate student must complete and successfully defend a Scholarly Doctoral Project, and must have an acceptable copy of the doctoral project formally accepted by the Graduate School. The doctoral project requirements and guidelines are provided by the relevant departments and programs.
1. Qualifying and Comprehensive Examinations for the Doctoral Degree
The Graduate School does not require all doctoral students to pass a Qualifying Examination. However, some departments and programs do require such an examination.
The nature and timing of Comprehensive Examinations are determined by individual departments and programs.
It is the student's responsibility to be aware of all rules and regulations governing Qualifying and/or Comprehensive Examinations in her or his degree program.
Students must be registered for coursework or for the appropriate section of Thesis Research or Continuous Registration during the semester or Summer Session in which they plan to take a either a Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination. See Section II.F. Standard Modes of Registration and Enrollment Time Status for further information on enrollment status and fees associated with these categories of registration.
The Graduate School will provide the department or program with an Examination Report form to report the results of either Qualifying or Comprehensive Examinations. Following the completion of the Examination, the completed Examination Report form is to be given directly to the University Registrar by the department or program. Completed Examination Report forms should not be sent to the Graduate School and should never be given to the student to deliver. The University Registrar will record the results the examination on the transcript.
In the event that a student's performance in the Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination is not satisfactory, the examining committee may or may not recommend a second opportunity. In extremely rare cases, a student may request the department or program to petition the Graduate School to allow a third examination. If the department or program agrees, it must submit a written request to the Dean of the Graduate School outlining the justification for a third and final examination. The decision whether to allow this exception rests with the Dean.
If a student who had previously failed the Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination receives a passing result on a second attempt (or rare third attempt), the failing result is removed and the passing result is posted to the graduate transcript.
See Section III.A.5. Appeals Contesting Grades or Other Forms of Assessment for the process to be followed if a student contests the outcome of a Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination.
2. Doctoral Candidacy
Doctoral candidacy is defined as the successful completion of all required coursework and all required examinations. Submission of an acceptable dissertation proposal is generally a requirement fulfilled after candidacy has been achieved, but practice may vary in some disciplines.
If the graduate program has a general language requirement, it must be completed before candidacy can be achieved. Programs may require special language proficiency or specific research techniques (e.g., statistics) for particular dissertations; these requirements may be fulfilled during the candidacy period.
Doctoral candidacy involves the identification of a primary faculty mentor or co-mentors to oversee the thesis research. If a primary mentor is identified who is not a member of the Georgetown faculty, a member of the Georgetown faculty must serve as co-mentor to regularly monitor the candidate’s research and progress toward the degree.
Once doctoral candidacy has been achieved, the Graduate School will consider requests for a personal leave of absence only if the reasons for requesting the leave would otherwise prevent the student from making significant progress on the dissertation. A personal leave of absence will not be granted simply for the purpose of extending the time permitted to complete the dissertation. A “personal leave of absence” is defined as any leave of absence other than one granted for medical reasons or to perform military service.
Each graduate program's graduate student handbook will specify regular milestones, both before and after candidacy has been achieved, at which each student’s progress toward completion of the Ph.D. will be assessed. Students who are found not to be making satisfactory progress, and who are therefore unlikely to complete a successful dissertation within the allowed time, will be identified and terminated from the program at the earliest possible time.
3. Dissertation / Doctoral Project Committee
Each program’s graduate student handbook will define what constitutes a valid dissertation / doctoral project committee. At a minimum, a dissertation / doctoral project committee must be comprised of three members, one of which may or may not be the mentor. At least two of the minimum three must be members of the Georgetown faculty (either tenure-line or non-tenure-line faculty). Members of the dissertation committee are appointed by means of the Thesis, Doctoral Project, or Dissertation Proposal form.
Some subset of the full committee will be designated as readers. The readers may, but need not, be from outside the student’s own graduate program, either from another Georgetown department or program, or from outside Georgetown University. Such outside readers are recommended whenever it is feasible. Readers from outside the University must hold a terminal degree for a faculty position in that field. They must also either be members of the faculty of another university or hold a professional appointment in a non-academic research institution that is equivalent to the academic rank of assistant professor or above.
4. Final Defense of the Dissertation / Doctoral Project
The policies and procedures described below are the minimum requirements set by the Graduate School for conducting the final defense of a doctoral dissertation / doctoral project. Each program’s graduate student handbook will define the specific rules under which all defenses in that program will be conducted. Such program-specific rules may be more stringent than the minima set by the Graduate School.
A final public defense is required for all doctoral dissertations / doctoral projects. Doctoral defenses must be publicly announced, and a copy of the dissertation / doctoral project must be available for public review at least two weeks prior to the event.
At least one week prior to the date of the oral defense, the Doctoral Project or Dissertation Reviewers Report form must be completed and signed by the thesis committee and submitted to the Graduate School. Using this report form, the student’s committee must certify that the dissertation / doctoral project is “ready for defense.” Program-specific rules may require a majority, super-majority, or unanimous vote of the committee. In so voting, the committee certifies that there is a reasonable expectation both that the student will be able to address any questions about or shortcomings in the dissertation /doctoral project, and that only minor revisions will be required after the defense.
After a dissertation / doctoral project has been certified as ready for defense, and no later than one week prior to the date of the doctoral defense, the Graduate School will post the defense information to the online Doctoral Dissertation Defense Schedule. (This policy applies only to doctoral dissertation defenses; it does not apply to defenses of a master's thesis or to the oral component of any doctoral qualifying examination.)
Following a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of the academy, all doctoral defenses at Georgetown University are open to any interested member of the academic community. Only the presentation and questioning periods of the defense are so open; individuals who are not members of the official committee will be excluded from other portions of the defense.
Every doctoral defense must have at least two components, and may have three, depending on the individual program’s rules:
a. Every dissertation / doctoral project defense must have a public presentation by the candidate which any member of the academic community may attend, and during which anyone in attendance may address questions to the candidate.
b. The dissertation / doctoral project defense may also, but need not, have a period during which the committee alone may ask questions.
c. Every dissertation / doctoral project defense must be followed by a closed meeting of the committee during which it deliberates and decides whether or not the defense was successful.
The candidate will be considered to have passed the dissertation defense when the committee certifies by its vote on the Thesis, Dissertation or Doctoral Project Defense Report form that the defense was “successful.” Program-specific rules may require a majority, super-majority, or unanimous vote of the committee. In so voting, the committee certifies that the candidate has satisfactorily addressed any questions about and shortcomings in the dissertation / doctoral project, and that no major revisions are required.
A Thesis, Dissertation, Doctoral Project Defense Report form indicating a successful defense of the dissertation / doctoral project must be submitted directly to the University Registrar's Office by the department or program before the student can be cleared for graduation. The completed Defense Report form should not be sent to the Graduate School, and should never be given to the student to deliver.
If the candidate fails the dissertation / doctoral project defense, the graduate program will report the failure by submitting the Thesis, Dissertation. Doctoral Project Defense Report form directly to the Graduate School. Once again, the completed Defense Report form should not be given to the student. The failure will be reported to the Graduate School whether or not a make-up or “retake” of the defense is permitted. Whether such a make-up or “retake” of a defense is allowed, and if so, the rules under which it may be conducted, must be stated in the program’s graduate student handbook. Students who fail the defense of thesis for a second time will be dismissed from the program without the doctoral degree.
It is common for the faculty examiners or the mentor to require students who have successfully passed the final defense to make additional revisions to the text of the dissertation /doctoral project before it is submitted in electronic form to the Graduate School. The student’s mentor, the members of the examining committee, and the Director of Graduate Studies must all indicate their approval of the final version of the dissertation /doctoral project. The Graduate School plans to design a web-based tool for collecting such approvals. Until such a tool is available, the faculty may indicate their approval by continuing to sign a paper “cover sheet,” by sending an email message to the Graduate School at firstname.lastname@example.org or by faxing signature approval to the attention of Graduate Student Services at 202-687-7977.
The Graduate School no longer accepts paper theses. Instructions for electronic submission of thesis are available at this link: http://grad.georgetown.edu/academics/dissertation-thesis-information/. The submitted dissertation /doctoral project will be reviewed by the Graduate School for compliance with formatting requirements. Formal acceptance of the dissertation /doctoral project by the Graduate School is required before the student can be cleared for graduation. Dissertation / Doctoral project that have been accepted by the Graduate School are available online at http://library.georgetown.edu/ir/home.
IV.F. Dual-Degree and Joint-Degree Programs
Students enrolled in dual-degree programs pursue studies leading to the award of two degrees from Georgetown University. The Graduate School offers many dual programs that result in the award of degrees in two graduate disciplines. Programs are also available that combine a Graduate School degree with a degree from one of Georgetown's undergraduate schools (available only to current Georgetown University undergraduates), the Law Center, or the Medical School.
Dual-degree programs are typically structured so as to double-count some number of earned course credits so that they are applied to the completion of both degrees. The policies governing double-counting of course credits vary by program, but the following general rules apply:
● There must be a minimum of 24 graduate course credits solely devoted to each Graduate School degree program.
● For the accelerated degree programs, only credits from courses taken after students have enrolled in the program can count towards the degree.
● For accelerated degree programs, no more than 12 credits/semester may be counted towards the graduate degree after students have enrolled in the program. Exceptions need to be approved by the Graduate School.
The Graduate School also offers a limited number of joint-degree programs in which study at both Georgetown and a partner university leads to the award of a single degree and a single diploma bearing the seals of both universities.
A current list of both dual-degree and joint-degree programs can be found at: http://grad.georgetown.edu/admissions/programs/dual-and-joint-degree-programs/ . The requirements differ for each dual-degree and joint-degree program. Program descriptions and other information is available in the Graduate School’s online summary of degree programs at: http://grad.georgetown.edu/admissions/programs/ or directly from the participating departments or programs. Individuals who wish to pursue a dual-degree program must make their intentions known when they apply to Georgetown University.
At the present time the Graduate School does not provide any mechanism by which students can combine two Georgetown University degree programs into a joint-degree program that awards a single degree.
IV.G. Concurrent Degree Programs
Occasionally an applicant whose particular interdisciplinary interests do not fit within existing dual-degree programs will seek admission two separate programs that they wish to pursue concurrently. The Graduate School does not actively discourage such applicants, but anyone considering such a challenging course of study should be aware that if admitted, they will need to fulfill the requirements of both degree programs independently, with no courses shared between the two programs, and that they will be charged full tuition for both programs, subject to the University’s billing policies.
Anyone considering pursuit of such concurrent degree programs must make their intentions clear to the Graduate School and the faculty of each program at the time of application, and should confer with both Student Accounts and the Office of Student Financial Services concerning the charges they will incur and the amount of need-based financial aid that may be available to them.
IV.H. Individualized Dual-Degree Programs
Georgetown’s specialized graduate programs have often attracted the interests of students pursuing degrees at other universities. The Graduate School will consider proposals to create individualized dual degree programs involving Georgetown University and another university. Such a program, based on an individually-negotiated agreement between the two universities, will permit a specific student to receive two post-baccalaureate degrees, with some coursework at each school accepted by the other toward fulfillment of its degree requirements. The Graduate School encourages such cross-institutional cooperation when the student can present a clear academic rationale for the arrangement.
Only one other institution may be involved in an individualized dual-degree arrangement. The other university must be an accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education. The other university must reciprocate in the dual-degree arrangement.
Individuals who wish to propose such dual-degree arrangements are encouraged to do so at the time of application to the Georgetown graduate program. They should apply to the relevant Georgetown graduate program, provide a rationale for pursuing an individualized dual-degree program, and indicate support from the other institution.
In order to complete an individualized dual-degree program, a student must have a minimum of 24 Georgetown graduate course credits devoted solely to the Georgetown degree program. Additional credits to be applied toward the Georgetown graduate degree would include both Georgetown graduate course credits that are shared with the other institution to fulfill its degree requirements, and graduate course credits from the other institution that are shared to satisfy Georgetown's graduate degree requirements.
Course credits from the other university will be recorded on the Georgetown graduate transcript with a notation that they have been applied toward satisfaction of degree requirements at both institutions. Such notations will be posted only upon receipt of an official transcript from the other University showing satisfactory completion (grade of "C" or better, or its equivalent). The Georgetown Graduate School degree will not be awarded until that official transcript has been received.
Georgetown tuition scholarships may be applied toward any Georgetown course taken as part of the student’s program, regardless of whether those credits are applied solely to the GU degree or to both degrees. Georgetown tuition scholarships cannot be applied toward courses taken at the other university. Work taken at another university that is not to be applied toward a degree program at that institution may be considered for transfer to the Georgetown degree program under the rules governing transfer credit; see Section III.B.1. Transfer of Credit toward the Master’s or Doctoral Degree for more information.