Degree Requirements


Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded for mastery of subject matter and demonstration of research ability. It is given in recognition of the candidate’s superior attainments and ability in his or her major field. A student must maintain high academic standards to retain matriculated status in a doctoral program. Normally three or more years of full-time study and research beyond the bachelor’s degree are needed to complete a doctoral program. See section on time limits for degree. The requirements for the Ph.D. vary from program to program. For the requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and the Doctor of Public Health (DPH), see the program listing. Listed below are general University Ph.D. requirements; special requirements are indicated under the specific program listings.


At least 30 of the credits required for the degree must be taken in residence at the City University. Doctoral students are expected to spend at least one year as full-time students at the City University. Full-time consists of a schedule of no fewer than 7 credits or the equivalent for each of two consecutive semesters.


At least 60 credits of approved graduate work, including the course requirements in the field of specialization, are required for the degree. Specific credit requirements vary and should be discussed with the Executive Officer of the individual program.

Foreign Languages

In any discipline in which research depends significantly on direct access to materials in a language other than English, students are required to demonstrate a working knowledge of at least one foreign language relevant to the conduct of research in that discipline. See the CUNY Graduate Center Language Reading Program and the Latin/Greek Institute.

Tools of Research

Each program may require its students to qualify in such tool subjects (computer languages, statistics, etc.) as are necessary to conduct research in its field.

First Examination

Each student must pass a First Examination in his or her field. Depending on individual doctoral program procedures, the examination shall be oral and/or written and may be administered within a narrow time period or may be administered in parts over a more extended time period. A student may continue in the doctoral program after completing 45 credits only if he or she has passed this examination.

Second Examination

A student must pass a Second Examination within ten (10) registered semesters of enrollment in a doctoral program. The Second Examination shall be of at least two hours duration and is usually taken after the completion of course requirements. A student may be admitted to the Second Examination only upon recommendation of a sponsor.

Advancement to Candidacy

Before a student can be certified as a candidate for a doctoral degree (advancement to Level III of the process of earning the doctoral degree), he or she must have completed the following requirements: all required course work (of which at least 30 credits must be taken at the City University) with at least an overall B average; any language requirements; the First and Second Examinations; and any special program requirements for certification.

Human Subjects Certification

The Graduate Center has an ethical and legal commitment to the protection of human subjects in research. All research with human subjects, whether it is for the dissertation or for any other activity, must be reviewed and approved by the Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects prior to the initiation of the research.

All doctoral students advanced to Level III after September 1, 1999, need to submit a “Dissertation Proposal Clearance: Human Participants” form, which is sent to all students by the Registrar when they advance to Level III. Students are required to submit this form to Research and Sponsored Programs after the dissertation topic and methodology are approved by their committees and before research begins. If human participants are involved in a student’s research, a human subjects application must be submitted to a CUNY Institutional Review Board in accord with the CUNY Principal Investigator’s Manual for Submitting Proposals for Review by the CUNY Institutional Review Boards. (Available from the: Research and Sponsored Programs.) The Graduate Center Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects or other CUNY campus institutional review boards must approve the application prior to beginning the research and issue an approval letter that must be submitted to Research and Sponsored Programs with the Dissertation Proposal Clearance form. If human participants are not involved in a student’s research, the completed Dissertation Proposal Clearance form is submitted with the dissertation project abstract and methodology to the Graduate Center’s Research and Sponsored Programs Office (Room 8309, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10016).


The student must complete a dissertation that embodies original research. The dissertation must be defended at an oral Final Examination and be deposited in the Graduate Center’s Mina Rees Library before the degree is granted. To defend the dissertation, the student must have been advanced to candidacy. The dissertation must be microfilmed or published. Instructions for preparing the dissertation may be secured from the Registrar’s Office at the Graduate Center.

The preparation of a dissertation and a defense of it form the final evaluation of a candidate’s qualification for the doctoral degree within the academic program. Approval by the program is typically confirmed by action of the Graduate Council and the City University’s Board of Trustees. Dissertation committees consist of at least three members of the CUNY doctoral faculty and are approved according to procedures detailed in the governance document of each program. The program will announce to the Provost, and, by posting and/or other means, to the general public and the members of the committee, the time and the date of the defense.

Time Limit for Doctoral Degree

All requirements for the degree must be completed no later than eight years after matriculation. A student who matriculates after the completion of 30 credits of acceptable work must complete all requirements within seven years.
Master’s Degree. All requirements for the degree must be completed no later than four years after matriculation.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree in order to maintain status at the Graduate Center and to be eligible for any student financial assistance. A student is deemed not to be making satisfactory progress if he or she has a grade point average below 3.00, has accumulated more than two open grades (INC, INP, NGR, ABS and ABP), has completed 45 credits without having passed the First Examination, has completed 10 semesters without having passed the Second Examination, has received two “NRP” grades in succession, or has exceeded the time limit for the degree.

The Graduate Center reviews each student’s record every semester. If formal standards have not been met, a student may register (and receive financial aid, if otherwise eligible) only upon petition of the student’s Executive Officer to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Students whose petitions are approved are considered to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree and are eligible to receive financial aid.

Teaching, Research, or Fieldwork

Teaching, research, or fieldwork is required as part of the student’s training toward the degree.

Special Requirements

Additional requirements or variations may be specified in the individual programs.

Waiver of Requirements

A student may petition the Associate Provost and Dean for Academic Affairs to waive any specific requirement for the degree.

Requirements for the Master of Arts

The Graduate Center offers the M.A. degree in Classics, Comparative Literature, Liberal Studies, Linguistics, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science only. See the appropriate program listing.