Timetable for Completing the Area Requirements

During the first stage of the program, students will normally take three or four classes a semester, until all the course work for their area requirements is completed. Students are encouraged to complete at least one of their area requirements by the end of their first year and required to complete:

(a)  at least two area requirements by the end of their second year;

(b)    all area requirements by the end of their third year.

In case of extenuating circumstances, students may petition the Graduate Committee to be excused from one or more of these requirements.


There are important reviews of each graduate student in February of each year (see annual review). Positive reviews each year are required to remain in good standing in the program. A comprehensive review takes place in the fall of the fourth year of study, and a positive review at this stage is required to continue on to the Ph.D.  Students whose fall fourth year review is negative may be asked to leave the Ph.D. program with an M.A.

Choosing a Dissertation Topic and Selecting a Committee

Students should choose a dissertation topic, form a committee, and start working on their dissertation during their third year. It is expected that students defend their prospectus by the end of the third year or early in their fourth.  To remain in good standing, students must successfully defend the prospectus by the end of their fourth year. Ideally, students should complete the dissertation within two years, i.e., by the end of their fifth year.

Registering for Research Credits

Students who have begun working on their dissertation must register for the minimum number of research credits (3) every semester until the degree is granted. Failure to do so may require students to reapply for admission to the program before their degree can be granted.   Also, any student holding a Purdue-funded fellowship, teaching assistantship, or research assistantship must normally be registered as a full-time student (that is for more than 7 credit hours). 

The Five Year Rule

Students must complete all requirements for the Ph.D., including the dissertation and the final public oral exam, by the end of the semester that falls in the fifth calendar year after the semester of a successful prospectus defense.  (For example, a student who successfully defends a prospectus in September 2010 must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. by December 2015.)

Finishing the Dissertation and Getting Ready for the Job Market

Students are encouraged to complete their dissertations during the first part of the year in which they plan to enter the job market, as the application and interviewing process for jobs is time consuming.

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