Skip to main content

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements: Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)

Course Requirements

Master of Science in Education degree programs require between 10-13 CU’s. Check with your program manager or academic advisor for the requirements for your degree program. Your academic advisor will assist in planning an appropriate program of study to meet degree requirements. All students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0.

To earn an M.S.Ed. degree, the student must complete 10-13 course units (Students should consult with the division for the appropriate number of courses required for their specialization.) and pass the master’s comprehensive examination, thesis or portfolio.

  • Courses must be at the 500 level or above
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better
  • One course must be a distribution (course within GSE, but outside of student’s division, with a GPA of at least 0 in the course.)

Advisor

Each student will be assigned an academic advisor upon admission. The advisor will help plan the student’s program of study, assist in selecting courses, provide academic advising and monitor academic progress. Students should contact their advisors individually in the first semester of the student’s first year before the drop/request period has concluded. The planned program of study should be developed between the advisor and the student in the first semester of the first year of study. The planned program of study can be revised over time; it will be submitted online by the program manager in the term in which the student graduate. After this initial meeting, students and advisors are mutually obligated to stay in regular contact, preferably twice a year, but always at the start of the academic year to review progress and consider alterations to the planned program of study. While the advisor will know much about GSE policies, rules do change. Students should always consult the Office of Student Affairs for the most current academic policies, procedures and deadlines for completing academic requirements. To request a change in advisor, the student should see the program manager for procedures.

Distribution Requirement

Candidates for the M.S.Ed. degree must demonstrate knowledge of the field of education beyond the area of specialization. This requirement is met by satisfying the distribution requirement. To meet the distribution requirement, students must complete one approved graduate level (500 and above) GSE course outside the student’s area of specialization, earning a grade of “B” or better. Students should check with their program manager for a list of courses approved to fulfill the distribution requirement. Further requirements regarding these courses may be specified by each division.

Comprehensive Examination (or Portfolio or Thesis)

Master’s degree candidates must demonstrate thorough knowledge of the field of specialization by passing a comprehensive examination in their area of study. The examination/portfolio/thesis serves an educational and evaluative purpose through which students are expected to review and integrate what they have learned in their coursework and fieldwork. All examinations are administered in accordance with the rules set forth in the Code of Academic Integrity. Comprehensive formats vary. The faculty in each specialization determines the appropriate examination format and is responsible for communicating the guidelines, expectations, rationale and evaluation criteria for examination to students. Students may be asked to do one or more of the following: take a timed, written examination administered at GSE, complete a take-home examination, write a master’s thesis, undertake a field project or submit a portfolio. If a sit-down examination is given, it must be at least three hours duration. Students are permitted two opportunities to pass the comprehensive examination. Students who are unsuccessful after two tries will be withdrawn from the degree program. In order to qualify to take the examination, students must first fulfill the following requirements:

  • Be formally admitted to a master’s degree program in the Graduate School of Education.
  • Be registered for the term in which they apply. If coursework has been completed, and no additional courses are needed, student must be registered for Master’s/Doctoral Degree Completion (EDUC 990) during the term in which the examination is taken. Enrollment in EDUC 990 is considered full-time status and may affect the student’s enrollment in University mandatory health insurance.
  • Have completed at least six course units, or be enrolled in at least the sixth course unit of graduate study toward the
  • Exam cannot be taken until all Incompletes are completed.
  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Have paid tuition for all previous

There may be additional criteria required to take the comprehensive exams. Check with the program manager or faculty advisor.

Transfer of Credit

GSE does not accept the transfer of courses from any other program (either from other universities or courses taken without the EDUC subject code at other Penn schools at other Penn schools prior to Penn GSE matriculation) to be counted as part of a 10 course unit master’s program EDUC subject code courses taken under “Penn General Admission” status do not need to be transferred.  They can count towards the degree if the program sends approval to SRO prior to the graduation audit.

Some master’s degree programs that require 11 or more CU’s may accept 1-2 courses in transfer under the following conditions:

  • If the desired course is to be taken after matriculation in a degree program at GSE, the course must be approved by the
  • Courses taken at other Penn schools before matriculating at Penn GSE cannot be counted, except by permission of the program and the school in some M.Phil.Ed. programs.
  • Student must matriculate at least one semester before submitting the transfer of credit form.
  • Transfer credit will only be granted if the grade received is a “B” or higher.
  • Non-letter grades are not transferrable.
  • Fill out and submit the Request for Approval of Transfer of Credit form
  • EDUC subject code courses taken under “Penn General Admission” status do not need to be transferred. They can count towards the degree if the program sends approval to SRO prior to graduation audit.

Time Limitation

A maximum of six consecutive years from the date of matriculation in a master’s degree program will be allowed for completion of the work for the master’s degree, including satisfactory completion of all examinations required. Official leaves of absence will not automatically change this time limit. Any extensions to time limits are considered in rare exceptions and must be submitted to the Committee on Degrees (COD).

Graduation Requirements

The GSE academic calendar lists the deadlines for completing degree requirements in order to graduate in any academic term. All degree candidates must apply to graduate online. Failure to apply for graduation by the published deadline will make it impossible to receive the degree at the time desired.

  • All coursework, including exam/thesis/portfolio must be complete
  • Student must be registered in the term in which they intend to graduate
  • Student’s bill must be paid in full
  • Successfully complete 10-13 CU’s
  • Take only courses at or above the 500 level
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Take one distribution requirement (a GSE course outside the area of specialization) and earn at least a “B” 

GSE holds a commencement ceremony each year in May for students who will be receiving their degrees in that term, as well as for those who completed their degrees in the previous year. Additionally, students who will be receiving their degrees in the following August may participate in the May ceremony. NOTE: You will not receive a diploma at the ceremony, as they will be mailed to you after confirmation of degree completion. Participation in the ceremony does not guarantee a degree; only completion of all degree requirements will result in confirmation of degree completion.

Degree Requirements: Master of Philosophy in Education (M.Phil.Ed.): Quantitative Methods

The Master of Philosophy in Education (M.Phil.Ed.), with a specialization in Quantitative Methods (QM), is designed for professionals who have already earned a relevant conventional masters degree2, and who wish to advance their mastery of scale development and validation, research design and controlled field trials, multivariate statistical analyses, and the production of high quality evidence for decision-making in public and organizational policy. Emphasis is placed on mentored research. This is a 6 CU (minimum) program with a required comprehensive examination.

The M.Phil.Ed. degree curriculum prepares graduates for mid-level research and evaluation positions in education, other professional fields, and the social sciences. Although it also prepares students to pursue further graduate study at the Ph.D. level, students who matriculate for the M.Phil.Ed. ordinarily will be most interested in earning the M.Phil.Ed. to enhance their career prospects at this level, and will not be inclined to seek more advanced study at the doctoral level.

Graduates are prepared to design, apply and interpret measures of attitude, behavior, and other social science, education and related phenomena; to validate, scale and equate such measures; to plan and conduct controlled field experiments; to apply and interpret advanced univariate and multivariate statistics; to evaluate programs and policies through quantitative studies; and to disseminate and interpret results for understanding and policy development. Relevant positions are found in city and state educational research institutions, public and private research organizations, medical and pharmaceutical organizations, and state and federal criminal justice systems.

The M.Phil.Ed. degree is ideal for students who wish to prepare for research careers in education and related fields. The 6-CU minimum requirement for this degree (after completion of a relevant conventional master’s degree) can be completed in one academic year of full-time study. Graduate study leading to the M.Phil.Ed. degree studies in QM includes coursework, a research apprenticeship, and a written comprehensive examination in the content of the degree.

The M.Phil.Ed. degree is for students who wish to continue their graduate studies after having finished a relevant Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania. The relevant master’s degree for students who wish to pursue the M.Phil.Ed. with a specialization in QM is the M.S.Ed. degree in Statistics, Measurement, Assessment, and Research Technology (SMART) offered by the Graduate Group in Education.  Therefore, students admitted for study leading to the M.Phil.Ed. in QM are expected to complete all course requirements for SMART. Students matriculating for the M.Phil.Ed. degree in QM from outside the University of Pennsylvania must complete all course requirements for SMART and all program requirements for the M.Phil.Ed.  However, students who have earned Master’s degrees at other institutions will be allowed to transfer up to 5 applicable courses toward the minimum of 16 courses required for the M.Phil.Ed. (i.e., a minimum of 10 courses for the M.S.Ed., plus a minimum of 6 additional courses for the M.Phil.Ed.).

Coursework

The core content of coursework includes advanced statistical methods, measurement, research design, and completion of an independent research project. A minimum of 6 courses (after completion of a relevant conventional master’s degree2) is required for the M.Phil.Ed. degree, 5 of which constitute the QM core and 1 of which is an elective.

Research Apprenticeship

Inasmuch as M.Phil.Ed. degree students are preparing for careers in empirical research, participation in a research apprenticeship is highly recommended because M.Phil.Ed. degree students are preparing for careers in empirical research, primarily using quantitative methods. An individually-tailored research apprenticeship is an integral part of the learning experience arranged in consultation with the student’s advisor. This arrangement will be by mutual agreement of the student, the student’s advisor, and perhaps an alternate sponsor. Typically, the student will participate in significant aspects of faculty research in progress. The nature of the research apprenticeship will vary with the student’s preparation, the characteristics of the research, and the stage of the research. This experience involves a commitment of 6 hours per week for an academic year for full-time students (appropriate arrangements will be made for part-time students). The purpose is to provide the student with practical research experience on an ongoing basis during the course of master’s studies. The student may or may not be compensated for services rendered under the research apprenticeship, or might be compensated for part of the time.

Written Comprehensive Examination

Toward the end of completion of course requirements, M.Phil.Ed. degree students are required to pass a written 3-hour comprehensive examination in the core content of the M.Phil.Ed. curriculum.

Degree Requirements: Master of Philosophy in Education (M.Phil.Ed.): Professional Counseling

This program involves an additional year of advanced study in the mastery of professional counseling, clinical assessment, and consultation services immediately following completion of the one-year Counseling and Mental Health Services M.S.Ed. Program, which requires a minimum of 10 CU’s. Consult the APHD Program manager for further details about the M.S.Ed. Counseling and Mental Health Services Program. Students may choose to complete the PC program either full-time or at a slower pace through a part-time course of study. PC is a 10-course-unit program with a required oral clinical comprehensive examination and a written report of that examination.

Internship

An integral part of the learning experience is the completion of a 600-hour internship in a counseling setting. The nature of the internship will vary based upon the student’s interests. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with clinical experience on an ongoing basis during the course of their M.Phil.Ed. studies. The internship is arranged by mutual agreement of the student, the student’s academic advisor, the PC internship course instructor, and the supervisor at the field site (who must be at least a licensed master’s-level mental health professional). The student may or may not be compensated for services rendered under the internship experience. Performance in the internship must be rated as satisfactory via a first- semester evaluation process based upon the assessment of the student’s progress by the field site supervisor, the student’s academic advisor, and the PC program faculty. Satisfactory performance in the first half of the student’s coursework is a prerequisite for admission to the Oral and Written Clinical Comprehensive Examination for the M.Phil.Ed. degree.

Comprehensive Exam

The Oral Clinical Comprehensive Examination process for the M.Phil.Ed. program is designed to assess the student’s working knowledge of the three major themes of the program: (1) applied counseling/clinical services; (2) understanding of clients’ cultures and contexts; and (3) lifespan human development. The examination assesses the student’s competence in using and integrating applied skills in settings where counselors work. The clinical examination uses a case presentation format to evaluate the student’s level of competency as a counselor.

Degree Requirements: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Purpose of Degree

The Doctor of Education degree is intended for students who are interested in the application of scholarship and research to educational endeavors. Coursework, examinations and the dissertation emphasize the reflective use of research as the basis of informed educational practice. Students are required to attain comprehensive knowledge of education, intensive knowledge of an area of specialization, skills in critical evaluation of research pertinent to the specialization, and proficiency in the planning and execution of research on topics in the practice of education.

Course Requirements

At least 12 course units of graduate work must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania. One course must be a research seminar in the area of specialization. The program of study may include work completed for the master’s degree. Up to eight course units may be transferred from another institution upon approval of a student’s advisor. All degree students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 for all courses applied toward the degree. 

Transfer of Credit

GSE will, under certain conditions, accept equivalent credit toward the degree. Up to eight graduate level CU’s taken at GSE, Penn, or another institution, may count toward the Ed.D. degree. Transfer credit is not automatically accepted or applied toward the doctoral degree. Students must follow formal procedures to request the application of transfer credit toward GSE degree requirements. The acceptance of transfer credits does not override specialization requirements. In order to receive transfer credit students must have earned a grade of at least “B” for all courses. Grades of “Satisfactory” or “Pass” are not transferable. No academic work done while the student was an undergraduate will be counted toward a graduate degree with the exception of courses taken when the student was an official sub-matriculate in the Graduate School of Education. The following conditions apply to transfer of credit:

  • A maximum of eight course units of graduate level coursework earned at GSE, Penn, or another institution within the preceding 10-year period may be accepted upon recommendation of the

For courses taken more than 10 years prior to admission to the Ed.D. program, within or outside the University, students must show that:

  • a grade of “A” or “B” has been earned;
  • the faculty advisor and the division chair agree that the courses are acceptable;
  • the student has enrolled in relevant graduate-level courses or engaged in appropriate academic activity after completion of courses for which credit is requested;
  • when there is not agreement between the student’s advisor and division chair, the student must pass an examination in the content areas for which credit is
  • EDUC subject code courses taken under “Penn General Admission” status do not count against the 8 course units which can be transferred. They can count towards the degree if the program sends approval to SRO prior to graduation audit.

Process for Approval of Transfer of Credit

Students must be admitted to a degree program before a request for transfer of credit can be considered. To request transfer of credit, students must:

  • Obtain the appropriate Request for Approval of Transfer of Credit form.
  • Complete the form in consultation with their advisor and obtain the necessary approvals from the advisor and division
  • Submit an official copy of the transcript
  • Student must matriculate at least one semester before submitting the transfer of credit form.
  • Student must provide a letter reflecting these requirements. 

Transfer credits will reflect on your transcript but will not count toward your GPA.

Residency Requirement

There is no residency requirement for Ed.D. students in the Graduate School of Education.  Students need to be continuously registered as is consistent with all degree programs at Penn GSE. 

Advisor

Each student will be assigned an academic advisor upon admission. The advisor will help plan the student’s program of study, assist in selecting courses, provide academic advising and monitor academic progress. Students should contact their advisors individually in the first semester of the students first year before the drop/request period has concluded. The planned program of study should be developed between the advisor and the student in the first semester of the first year of study. The planned program of study can be revised over time. After this initial meeting, students and advisors are mutually obligated to stay in regular contact, preferably twice a year, but always at the start of the academic year to review progress and consider alterations to the planned program of study. While the advisor will know much about GSE policies, rules do change. Students should always consult the Student Handbook or the Student Records Office for the most current academic policies, procedures and deadlines for completing academic requirements. To request a change in advisor, the student should see the program manager for procedures.

Students on dissertation should also communicate with their advisors twice a year so that progress is closely monitored. Once a student has formed a dissertation committee, the committee chair automatically becomes the student’s advisor.

Time Limitation for Completing Ed.D. Requirements

Ed.D. students are expected to complete all degree requirements within 12 years of the completion of coursework; completing coursework within the first 6 years and doctoral candidacy within the next 2 years. Students will be reviewed annually, which includes meeting with their advisors to review progress and the writing of a report outlining the student’s progress and plans for completion of the degree within 4 years. This report is to be placed in the student’s folder. Official leaves of absence will not automatically change these time limits.

Graduate students after 12 years may petition the Committee on Degrees to return as a student for a maximum of one year in order to achieve recertification and defend the dissertation. The faculty has no obligation to continue working with a student who has been dropped, nor is there any presumption that a graduate group will respond favorably to a petition for re-admission. If the faculty wishes to recommend re- admission, it must present to the graduate dean a list of faculty members willing to serve as a dissertation committee and a detailed, realistic plan of how the student will, within one year of reenrollment, achieve recertification, pass the dissertation examination, and submit the final copy of the dissertation. If re-enrollment is approved by the graduate dean, such a student must pay reduced rate tuition for two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester.

Evaluations and Examinations

Qualifications Evaluation (also known as Program Candidacy)

The purpose of program candidacy is to provide rigorous review and feedback to Ed.D. students regarding their academic progress within the first two years of study. Program candidacy is a prerequisite to doctoral candidacy. Minimum school-wide criteria are described below. Additional requirements about the timing, process and materials for program candidacy review may be further specified by each specialization. Check with your academic advisor or program manager for details.

Eligibility for Qualifications Evaluation (Program Candidacy)
  • Program candidacy review must be completed after completion of 6, but not more than 8 CUs and no later than the fourth semester of coursework.

Eligibility will be assessed according to the following criteria: satisfactory performance in courses as shown by the student’s GSE transcript and faculty recommendations; a coherent course of study as illustrated by the planned program of study and prospectus; and a demonstration of the ability to do research as demonstrated by a research paper.

Procedure for Qualifications Evaluation
  • Specialization faculty reviews the student
  • Specialization faculty votes to recommend student for program
  • Division faculty votes whether to admit student to program
  • The student is given feedback in conference or in writing about the decision, his/her performance and future course of study.

Students who are recommended for program candidacy are permitted to continue in the program. Students who do not pass program candidacy are withdrawn from the degree program.

Appeal of Qualifications Evaluation

Students may appeal to the division chair if the program faculty does not admit them to program candidacy. Students may appeal to the Committee on Degrees if the division does not admit them to program candidacy. 

Preliminary Examination (Doctoral Candidacy)

The preliminary examination is a test of knowledge in the candidate’s area of specialization. The examination requires students to demonstrate knowledge and reasoning in the key content areasin their specialization as specified by the academic division. The format of the examination varies from program to program, but must include at least six hours of examination, at least three hours of which must be written. All examinations are administered in accordance with the rules set forth in the Code of Academic Integrity. Students should consult their advisor about the particular form of the examination they will take. Doctoral candidacy is conferred upon successful completion of the doctoral preliminary examination.

Students are permitted two opportunities to pass the preliminary examination. If they are unsuccessful after two tries, they will be withdrawn from the doctoral program. 

To be eligible to take the preliminary examination students must:

  • Have been admitted to program candidacy
  • Have the recommendation of their advisor
  • Submit evidence satisfactory to the advisor of ability to do research in their area of specialization
  • Be registered for the term in which the exam is taken
  • Register to take the preliminary examination using the form on the website

Doctoral candidacy is conferred upon successful completion of the doctoral preliminary examination.

Final Oral Defense Hearing

A public, oral presentation of the dissertation is required. The presentation must either include, or be followed by, an oral examination.

Satisfactory Progress

Lack of significant progress in completing degree requirements for two consecutive years (exclusive of time when on official leave of absence) will automatically terminate candidacy or eligibility to apply for candidacy if not already attained. Therefore, students should take the initiative in providing their advisor with evidence of continuous progress; in the absence of such evidence, advisors may apprise themselves of their advisee’s status each term and refer a student to the Committee on Degrees if satisfactory progress is not maintained.

The Dissertation

Forming a Dissertation Committee

Students must consult with their advisor for assistance in selecting a group of at least three people with earned doctorates to serve as the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is responsible for evaluating their proposal for dissertation research, for supervising the preparation of a dissertation on an approved problem, and for evaluating the dissertation. Committee members should be selected on the basis of their relationship to the dissertation content.

The chair of an Ed.D. dissertation committee must be a member of the Penn GSE standing faculty or be a member of the associated faculty approved to chair dissertation committees. View our list of faculty authorized to chair Ed.D. dissertation committees. Students should see their academic advisor for specific information.

Approval Process for a Dissertation Committee

To formalize the committee, submit a Penn Graduate Forms request for Milestone: Committee Formation (under Available Forms). At the same time, please submit your Oral Proposal Scheduling request form. The committee must be formally approved before your oral proposal hearing date. Allow at least three weeks for the request to be reviewed by the Office of Student Services. To request a change in dissertation committee, students must update the Milestone: Committee Formation form and submit for review again. Changes to the committee must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.

Research on Human Subjects

Students must obtain University approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before they may conduct research on human subjects for their dissertation study. Since education research generally involves little or no risk to the participants, the University permits GSE students to apply for an expedited review by the IRB. Detailed information about these procedures is available from the Office of Research Services.

Dissertation Research Abroad

A student who will conduct dissertation research abroad for the semester registers for Dissertation Research Abroad status. Submit the Request for Dissertation Research Abroad to the Student Records Office. Student who will be abroad for any part of the semester will be registered for Dissertation Research Abroad status.

Ed.D. Dissertation Manual

Please refer to the Ed.D. Dissertation Manual for additional information.

Oral Proposal

Procedure for Oral Proposal of Dissertation

All doctoral candidates must present their dissertation proposals orally and in person to the dissertation committee. To schedule the oral proposal, the student must: 

  • Already have submitted dissertation committee approval request (see Approval Process for a Dissertation Committee section above).
  • Decide with the committee members on a day, date, and time to hold the proposal. 
  • Submit the Scheduling of Oral Proposal Hearing Form at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take place. The Student Records Office will assign a room for the proposal hearing and notify the student, the committee members, and the program manager. The notice will also be posted on the Penn GSE calendar, the second floor bulletin boards, and the building monitors.
  • Having passed the oral proposal, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense Ballot to collect committee members’ digital approval and update the transcript with the pass date.

The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the oral proposal. 

Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances one member may participate remotely in the oral proposal and final defense hearings. Additionally, electronic signatures will be accepted for the member attending remotely.

At the oral proposal hearing, the dissertation committee will review the proposal with the student and help refine the proposed dissertation project. The committee will vote on the proposal and indicate any revisions that might be required before the student may be allowed to proceed with the dissertation research. Oral proposal hearings are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the oral proposal hearing during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members. If approval is granted, the student will be required to register for courses, or for dissertation supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the oral proposal hearing is held.  Students must complete all remaining requirements for the degree within a period of four years. For an extension of time to complete the dissertation, students may petition the Committee on Degrees. Students must have the recommendation of the dissertation committee chair to be considered for an extension of this time limit.

GSE Standards for the Oral Proposal

Your committee will determine whether you pass your oral proposal hearing. Your proposal must pass the following criteria:

  • The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and
  • The research question(s) are stated
  • The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing
  • The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly

Standards for Dissertation

  1. The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and evaluated. 
  2. The research question(s) are stated clearly.
  3. The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing manner.
  4. The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly described.
  5. The research plan and methods are implemented effectively.
  6. The research produced trustworthy evidence that bears on the research question(s).
  7. The conclusions follow convincingly from the evidence and its interpretation.
  8. The dissertation manuscript is coherent, well structured, clearly written and is in accordance with the specifications of a standard style manual regarding grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.
  9. With appropriate revisions, the dissertation is of sufficient quality to be publishable in an academic or practice-oriented journal that is peer reviewed.

Formatting the Dissertation

Final Defense of the Dissertation

The final dissertation defense is approximately two hours in length and is based upon the candidate’s dissertation. To schedule the final oral examination, doctoral candidates must submit the completed the Final Defense Hearing Form and abstract to at least two weeks in advance of the date of the final defense. The Student Records Office schedules the meeting room and formally notifies the dissertation committee that the meeting has been scheduled. The public is also welcome to attend these presentations.  A private discussion for certain periods of the defense may also be granted as per the decision of the dissertation committee.

The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the final defense hearings.

Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances, one member may be physically absent as long as the absent member(s) participate(s) in the final defense hearings.

At least one term must elapse between passing the preliminary examination and the final defense. The preliminary examination and the final defense cannot be completed within the same semester. At the discretion of the dissertation committee, the candidate will be recommended to the faculty of the Graduate Group in Education for the degree of Doctor of Education. After the final defense hearing, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense ballot to collect their committee members’ digital approval. Once all committee members have submitted their approval, the Student Records Office will receive a final copy of the ballot and update the student’s record with the pass date.

 Final oral examinations are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the final oral examination during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members and register for Dissertation Supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the final oral examination is held.

Procedure for Scheduling the Final Defense of the Dissertation

To schedule the final defense, the student must:

  • Mutually agree with the committee members on a day, date and time to hold the defense.
  • Submit the Final Defense Notification form signed by the dissertation chair and the proposal abstract at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take The Student Records Office will assign a room for the defense hearing and notify the student, the committee members and the program manager. The notice will also be posted on the bulletin board in the second floor administrative suite, and the building monitors.
  • Tuition is waived the semester after students successfully pass the final defense This waiver is only for one semester and cannot be extended.
  • Having passed the final defense, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense Ballot: Final Defense to collect committee members’ digital approval and update the transcript with the pass date.

Required Documents for Ed.D. Dissertations / After Final Defense

  • Dissertation submitted to ProQuest ETD Administrator
  • Upon approval of dissertation on ProQuest, one copy printed on 100% acid-free paper
  • One Title Page printed on 100% acid-free paper with chairperson’s signature
  • View the Steps for Submission of Ed.D. Dissertations

Graduation

The GSE academic calendar lists the deadlines for completing degree requirements in order to graduate in any academic term. All degree candidates must apply to graduate on-line by the deadline listed on the GSE academic calendar. Failure to apply for graduation by the published deadline will make it impossible to receive the degree at the time desired. 

GSE holds one commencement ceremony each year in May for students who have completed degrees in the December of the prior fall term, May or August of the current academic year. August graduates who participate in the May commencement ceremony:

  • must apply to graduate in August by the deadline listed in the GSE academic calendar.
  • will have their diplomas mailed to them by the Office of the Secretary of the University approximately three months after they have completed their degree requirements.

If you intend to graduate in August, these are the important dates to keep in mind:

If you intend to graduate in August but do NOT want to pay an additional tuition fee, you will need to have your final defense completed by the end of the Spring term as per the GSE academic calendar.  If you defend your dissertation AFTER this deadline, you will have to pay 1 CU tuition, because you have to pay tuition the semester you defend your dissertation.  Penn GSE will NOT pay this tuition fee during the summer, even if you are on a fellowship of any kind.  Consult with external fellowships for guidelines on summer tuition payment.  An August graduation means that you have deposited the dissertation per the deadlines on the GSE calendar for the Summer term. 

Certificate of Advanced Study

Students who complete all requirements for a Doctor of Education except the preliminary examination and the dissertation may apply to the Office of Student Services to receive a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS). The CAS is a form of recognition for completing significant doctoral level study in an educational field. Students who elect to receive a CAS will not be eligible to re- enter a degree program and complete the doctorate at a later date. A CAS may be awarded to students matriculated in the Graduate School of Education who:

  • are in good standing;
  • have completed all requirements for an approved doctoral specialization of study except the preliminary examinations and the dissertation; and
  • are recommended by the faculty of the appropriate The certificate contains:
    • The name of the School and the University;
    • The name of the student;
    • The title of the field of specialization in which the advanced study was completed;
    • The signature of the Dean of the Graduate School of Education.

Family Leave of Absence

A student in the Ed.D. program at Penn may take an unpaid Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.

  1. Students may take a Family Leave of Absence for one or two semesters.
  2. The student is expected to notify the graduate group by filling out the leave of absence form and writing the advisor of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at an early date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
  3. Family Leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  4. During the period of Family Leave, the student may arrange to continue Student Health Insurance, but is responsible for the payment of his or her own premiums. Upon paying a fee, students on approved Family Leave will retain their PennCard, e-mail accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  5. Funding commitments from the institution are deferred until the student returns from Family Leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  6. Service requirements (e.g., teaching, research) will be met by the student following return from Family Leave.
  7. Requests for extension of Family Leave beyond one year, or for repeated Family Leaves, may be made. Approval of an extension, deferral of funding, and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the Graduate Dean.

*IMPORTANT: If you anticipate adding a dependent (e.g., newborn) to your Penn Student Insurance Policy while on Family Leave, you must remain in ACTIVE student status at the start of the fall semester. Students should arrange with their school/division to maintain full-time student status for at least 31 days from the start of fall classes, after which time the Family Leave status can be recorded in the Student Records System. After the birth/adoption, contact the SHS Insurance Coordinator to enroll the dependent. The premium for dependent coverage is payable directly to Aetna Student Health.

Degree Requirements: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Purpose of the Degree

The Ph.D. is an intensive, theory-based study of education for scholars who want to pursue careers in research or teaching at colleges and universities. Doctoral students are expected to become competent in both qualitative (action research, case study, ethnographic methods) and quantitative (statistical data analysis, survey research and measurement) research methodologies, Students gain hands-on experience and practical competencies through service-based placements, mentorships, and research assistantships, and undertake independent research culminating in a dissertation that makes an original contribution to knowledge about educational practice or policies.

Course Requirements

At least 12 course units of graduate work beyond the master's degree must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania. The program of study may include work completed for the master’s degree. One course must be a research seminar in the area of specialization. Up to eight course units may be transferred from another institution upon approval of a student’s advisor. All degree students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 for all courses applied toward the degree. 

The faculty determines the curricular requirements for its program. The course of study can include a combination of specific required courses, electives, teaching, independent study or laboratory rotations, colloquia, and demonstration through examination of comprehensive knowledge in the major field.

A student who enters the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree will be expected to spend two to three years taking 3-4 course units per semester before satisfying the doctoral group’s academic requirements, passing the required examinations and being Advanced to Candidacy. Faculty may require more extensive preparation through additional work, especially those programs with substantial language requirements. Students who enter with a master’s degree or other transfer credit may satisfy the formal course requirements more quickly. Faculty has flexibility to establish the optimal timetable and requirements for their own students and to respond to the specific academic needs of individual students.

The customary maximum load for a Ph.D. student is four course units each semester.  For any courseload over 4.0 course units, fill out the form online.  A response can be expected within two weeks.

Faculty may establish examination requirements in addition to the University’s standards. 

Residency Requirement

All doctoral students must satisfy a residency requirement as a condition for earning the degree. The residency requirement is defined as completion of at least four course units within two successive terms in University courses approved for graduate credit by the Graduate School of Education. A maximum of two of these four course units may be taken in summer sessions continuous with the academic year term in which the remaining course units are taken (e.g., spring/fall, fall/spring, summer/fall or spring/summer). This requirement may be fulfilled at any time after the student has been admitted to GSE for post-baccalaureate coursework. Some programs require full-time study in every semester. Consult the division for more information. 

Inquiry Skills

  • All D. students in education must demonstrate competence in the use of at least one inquiry skill relevant to scholarship and/or professional practice in their field of specialization
  • Inquiry skills may include empirical research skills, appropriate foreign languages, computer programming or other skills specified by the specialization
  • Courses used to satisfy the inquiry skill requirement do not count toward the minimum number of course units required for the degree

Transfer of Credit

GSE will, under certain conditions, accept equivalent credit toward the degree. Up to eight graduate level CU’s taken at GSE, Penn, or another institution, may count toward the Ed.D. degree. Transfer credit is not automatically accepted or applied toward the doctoral degree. Students must follow formal procedures to request the application of transfer credit toward GSE degree requirements. The acceptance of transfer credits does not override specialization requirements. In order to receive transfer credit students must have earned a grade of at least “B” for all courses. Grades of “Satisfactory” or “Pass” are not transferable. No academic work done while the student was an undergraduate will be counted toward a graduate degree with the exception of courses taken when the student was an official sub-matriculate in the Graduate School of Education. The following conditions apply to transfer of credit:

  • A maximum of eight course units of graduate level coursework earned at GSE, Penn, or another institution within the preceding 10-year period may be accepted upon recommendation of the advisor. 

For courses taken more than 10 years prior to admission to the Ph.D. program, within or outside the University, students must show that:

  • a grade of “A” or “B” has been earned;
  • the faculty advisor and the division chair agree that the courses are acceptable;
  • the student has enrolled in relevant graduate-level courses or engaged in appropriate academic activity after completion of courses for which credit is requested;
  • when there is not agreement between the student’s advisor and division chair, the student must pass an examination in the content areas for which credit is
  • EDUC subject code courses taken under “Penn General Admission” status do not count against the 8 course units which can be transferred. They can count towards the degree if the program sends approval to SRO prior to graduation audit.

Process for Approval of Transfer of Credit

Students must be admitted to a degree program before a request for transfer of credit can be considered. To request transfer of credit, students must:

  • Obtain the appropriate transfer of credit request form.
  • Complete the form in consultation with their advisor and obtain the necessary approvals from the advisor and division chair.
  • Submit an official copy of the transcript
  • Student must matriculate at least one semester before submitting the transfer of credit form.
  • Student must provide a letter reflecting these requirements.

Transfer credits will reflect on your transcript but will not count toward your GPA.

Advisor

  • Each student is assigned a faculty advisor upon admission
  • The advisor is responsible for helping to plan the program of study, guiding the student’s work until completion of coursework and the preliminary examination, and monitoring the student’s academic progress
  • If the advisor judges the quality of an advisee’s work to be inadequate, he or she may recommend to the division chair that the student not be allowed to continue in the program
  • Students should contact their advisors individually in the first semester of the student’s first year before the drop/request period has concluded
  • After this initial meeting, students and advisors are mutually obligated to stay in regular contact, preferably twice a year, but always at the start of the academic year to review progress and consider alterations to the program of study
  • The planned program of study should be developed between the advisor and advisee in the first semester of the first year of study, and can be revised over time
  • Students on dissertation should also communicate with their advisors twice a year so that progress is closely They must submit a dissertation progress report once per year.
  • Students should always consult the GSE website or the Student Records Office for the most current academic policies, procedures and deadlines for completing academic requirements
  • To request a change in advisor, a student should see the program manager for procedures
  • Once a student has formed a dissertation committee, the committee chair automatically becomes the student’s advisor

Evaluations and Examinations

Qualifications Evaluation (Program Candidacy)

A Qualifications Evaluation of each student is conducted after the completion of 6 but not more than 8 CU’s. The evaluation is designed by the specialization faculty and may be based on an examination or on a review of a student’s overall academic progress. Satisfaction of this requirement is necessary in order to continue in the graduate program and is recorded in the student’s academic record. The student and the Student Records Office must be notified of the outcome of the evaluation.

Eligibility for Qualifications Evaluation

Program candidacy review must be completed after completion of 6, but not more than 8 CU’s, and no later than the fourth semester of coursework. Eligibility will be assessed according to the following criteria: satisfactory performance in courses as shown by the student’s GSE transcript and faculty recommendations; a coherent course of study as illustrated by the planned program of study and prospectus; and a demonstration of the ability to do research as demonstrated by a research paper. 

Procedure for Qualifications Evaluation
  • Specialization faculty reviews the student
  • Specialization faculty votes to recommend student for program
  • Division faculty votes whether to admit student to program
  • The student is given feedback in conference or in writing about the decision, his/her performance and future course of study.

Students who are recommended for program candidacy are permitted to continue in the program. Students who do not pass program candidacy are withdrawn from the degree program.

Appeal of Qualifications Evaluation

Students may appeal to the division chair if the program faculty does not admit them to program candidacy. Students may appeal to the Committee on Degrees if the division does not admit them to program candidacy.

Candidacy Examination (Doctoral Candidacy)

A Candidacy Examination on the major subject area is required. This examination is normally held after the candidate has completed all required courses. Feedback will be provided to the student within one month. Satisfactory completion of the Candidacy Examination requirement is recorded in the student’s academic record. Upon successful completion of the Candidacy Examination, the student is advanced to Candidacy. Normally, a student should advance to candidacy by the end of the third year. The maximum time limit for a student to be advanced to candidacy is five years, after which time the student will be dropped from the rolls.

  • Doctoral candidacy is conferred upon successful completion of the candidacy examination (formerly doctoral preliminary examination).
  • The D. student must pass a candidacy examination in the field of his or her major subject.
  • The candidacy examination is a test of knowledge in the student's area of specialization, requiring students to demonstrate knowledge and reasoning in the key content areas in their specialization as defined by their academic division, including:
    • depth and breadth of familiarity with the literature in their field of study
    • synthesis of material across core content courses taken in the doctoral program
    • ability to critically analyze issues in the field
    • knowledge and understanding of the intellectual domains and research paradigms relevant to their field of study
    • the ability to present cogent arguments including the effective use of evidence
  • Examination results should be communicated to students within four weeks of the date the examination was taken
  • Members of the D. examination committees must be drawn from the standing or associated faculties
  • Students are permitted two opportunities to pass the candidacy examination; if they are unsuccessful after two tries, they will be withdrawn from the doctoral program

To be eligible to take the candidacy examination, students must:

  • Have passed the Qualifications Evaluation;
  • Have the recommendation of their advisor
  • Submit evidence satisfactory to the advisor of capacity to do research in their area of specialization
  • Be registered for the term in which the exam is taken
  • Register to take the candidacy examination by the deadline listed in the academic calendar.

Satisfactory Progress

  • All doctoral students are reviewed by the faculty on a regular basis to evaluate their progress
  • Evaluation is based on a review of coursework, fieldwork, progress and other relevant criteria
  • All students are expected to make steady progress toward completion of degree requirements unless a leave of absence has been granted
  • Lack of significant progress in completing degree requirements for two consecutive years (exclusive of time when on official leave of absence) will automatically terminate enrollment

Time Limitation

Beginning in 2010-11, the University’s maximum time limit for completion is ten years after matriculation. Graduate students who have been dropped after ten years may petition the graduate group to return as a student for a maximum of one year in order to achieve recertification and defend the dissertation. The faculty has no obligation to continue working with a student who has been dropped, nor is there any presumption that a graduate group will respond favorably to a petition for re-admission. If the faculty wishes to recommend re- admission, it must present to the graduate dean a list of faculty members willing to serve as a dissertation committee and a detailed, realistic plan of how the student will, within one year of reenrollment, achieve recertification, pass the dissertation examination, and submit the final copy of the dissertation. If re-enrollment is approved by the graduate dean, such a student must pay reduced rate tuition for two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester.

Any extensions to time limits are considered in rare exceptions and must be submitted to the Committee on Degrees (CoD).

Recertification

A student who is re-enrolled after expiration of the time limit must satisfy the recertification criteria designed by their graduate group and approved by the Graduate Council of the Faculties (or retake and pass the Candidacy Examination). The new deadline for completion of all requirements for the Ph.D., including recertification, shall be within one year.

Ph.D. students in the Graduate Group in Education who have not completed all their degree requirements within 10 years of matriculation may submit a petition to the Graduate School of Education's Committee on Degrees for a one-year extension. The petition must be submitted to the Committee on Degrees at least 2 months prior to the end of the 10th academic year. To qualify for an extension, the student must meet the following four conditions:

  1. The student must have had his or her dissertation proposal accepted, the Ballot Form signed by the student's Dissertation Committee, and submitted to the Student Record Office.
  2. The student must submit a progress report and plan to his or her dissertation committee. The purpose of this report/plan is: to document which degree requirements the student has completed; to provide a rationale for why he or she has been unable to complete all the requirements within the 10 year period; and to provide a timeline/schedule of steps for completion of the remaining requirements within a one-year extension. The student's chair and a majority of his or her dissertation committee must review and approve the progress report and plan.
  3. The student must then submit the progress report and plan to the Committee on Degrees for their review and approval.
  4. The student must re-take a Candidacy exam that documents familiarity with the current status of their 

The Dissertation

The final stage and culmination of doctoral study is preparation of a dissertation. The dissertation is an independently produced piece of original research on a problem in education prepared under the supervision of a dissertation committee. The student should meet with their dissertation committee at least once a year to insure sufficient progress.  The dissertation should show high attainment and power of independent research, and represent a significant contribution to human knowledge. A GSE Ph.D. dissertation should include:

  • A research problem that is clearly located in the relevant literature;
  • A research question(s) or research hypothesis(es);
  • A theoretical orientation or conceptual framework that is used to provide some of the background and rationale for:
    • a description of the significance of the dissertation research, and
    • the selection of the research methods approach(es) chosen to investigate the research question(s) or hypothesis(es);
  • Description of approach(es)/method(s);
  • Data presentation and analysis (i.e., findings, results); and
  • Implications for theory, policy, practice, and/or further research

Multiple authorship of dissertations is allowed as long as no publication is used as dissertation material for more than one student and as long as the candidate includes for publication a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. 

Dissertations based on joint work with other researchers are allowed provided that in such cases a unique and separate dissertation is presented by each degree candidate. The candidate must include a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. Authorship of a dissertation by more than one degree candidate is not allowed.

Forming a Dissertation Committee

Students must consult with their advisor for assistance in selecting a group of at least three people with earned doctorates to serve as the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is responsible for evaluating their proposal for dissertation research, for supervising the preparation of a dissertation on an approved problem, and for evaluating the dissertation. Committee members should be selected on the basis of their relationship to the dissertation content.

Students must complete the doctoral preliminary and minor examinations before seeking formal approval for a dissertation committee. Upon advancement to candidacy, each student has a Dissertation Committee consisting of at least three faculty members (including at least two members of the Ph.D. Education Graduate Group). A list of Education Graduate Group members is available here. The third member may be a scholar external to the University of Pennsylvania with a doctoral degree, including a qualified individual who does not hold faculty rank at a college or university. To include an external member on their dissertation committee, students must have approval from the committee chair and the Office of Student Services.

The Dissertation Committee meets at least once annually with the student to review the student’s progress. The student prepares an Annual Dissertation Progress Report and the committee gives timely feedback (within one month) and confirms whether progress is satisfactory. A copy of the signed progress report is submitted to the Supervisor/Advisor and Graduate Group Chair and is documented by the school in the student’s PhD Worksheet.

One person is designated the chair. The chair of a Ph.D. dissertation committee must be both a member of the standing faculty and a member of the Graduate Group in Education. The dissertation committee chair becomes the official faculty advisor. 

Approval Process for a Dissertation Committee

To formalize the committee, submit a Penn Graduate Forms request for Milestone: Committee Formation (under Available Forms). At the same time, please submit your Oral Proposal Scheduling request form. The committee must be formally approved before your oral proposal hearing date. Allow at least three weeks for the request to be reviewed by the Assistant Dean’s office. To request a change in dissertation committee, students must update the Milestone: Committee Formation form and submit for review again. Changes to the committee must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.

Dissertation Research Abroad

A student who will conduct dissertation research abroad for the semester registers for Dissertation Research Abroad status. Full Tuition is charged for students in years 1-4, and Reduced Tuition for students in years 5-10. Submit the form to request dissertation research abroad to the Student Records Office. 

Extramural Research

If graduate credit is sought for research work pursued at laboratories not officially a part of the University of Pennsylvania (for example, where the investigator is not a member of the graduate group), the student must obtain prior permission from the graduate chair. University Policies Regarding Intellectual Property apply in the case of research conducted in extramural settings.

Patent Policy Relating to Research

A dissertation submitted as a part of the requirements for a degree is the property of the University, and any patent rights arising there from are governed by the Patent Policy of the University of Pennsylvania. An invention or discovery resulting from research carried out in University laboratories as a part of a post-doctoral or other non-degree program is the property of the University, and any patent rights arising there from are also governed by the Patent Policy of the University of Pennsylvania.

Research on Human Subjects

Students must obtain University approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before they may conduct research on human subjects for their dissertation study. Since education research generally involves little or no risk to the participants, the University permits GSE students to apply for an expedited review by the IRB. Detailed information about these procedures is available from the Office of Research Services.

Oral Proposal

Procedure for Oral Proposal of the Dissertation

All doctoral candidates must present their dissertation proposals orally and in person to the dissertation committee. To schedule the oral proposal, the student must:

  • Already have submitted dissertation committee approval request (see Approval Process for a Dissertation Committee section above).
  • Decide with the committee members on a day, date, and time to hold the proposal.
  • Submit the Scheduling of Oral Proposal Hearing Form at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take place. The Student Records Office will assign a room for the proposal hearing and notify the student, the committee members, and the program manager. The notice will also be posted on the bulletin board in the second floor administrative suite.
  • Having passed the oral proposal, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense Ballot to collect committee members’ digital approval and update the transcript with the pass date.
  • The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense.
  • Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances one member may be physically absent as long as the absent member participates. Additionally, electronic signatures will be accepted for the member attending remotely.

At the oral proposal hearing, the dissertation committee will review the proposal with the student and help refine the proposed dissertation project. The committee will vote on the proposal and indicate any revisions that might be required before the student may be allowed to proceed with the dissertation research. Oral proposal hearings are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the oral proposal hearing during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members. If approval is granted, the student will be required to register for courses, or for dissertation supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the oral proposal hearing is held. After the dissertation proposal, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense ballot to collect their committee members’ digital approval. Once all committee members have submitted their approval, the Student Records Office will receive a final copy of the ballot and update the student’s record with the pass date. Students must complete all remaining requirements for the degree within a period of four years. For an extension of time to complete the dissertation, students may petition the Committee on Degrees. Students must have the recommendation of the dissertation committee chair to be considered for an extension of this time limit.

GSE Standards for the Oral Proposal

Your committee will determine whether you pass your oral proposal hearing. Your proposal must pass the following criteria: 

  1. The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and evaluated.
  2. The research question(s) are stated clearly.
  3. The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing manner.
  4. The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly described.

Standards for the Dissertation

  1. The topic is stated clearly and relevant background literature reviewed and evaluated.
  2. The research question(s) are stated clearly.
  3. The contribution and importance of the research question(s) with respect to relevant literature, theory, policy, and/or practice are articulated in a convincing manner.
  4. The research plan and methods are appropriate and adequate to study the research question(s) posed, and are explicitly described.
  5. The research plan and methods are implemented effectively.
  6. The research produced trustworthy evidence that bears on the research question(s).
  7. The conclusions follow convincingly from the evidence and its interpretation.
  8. The dissertation manuscript is coherent, well structured, clearly written and is in accordance with the specifications of a standard style manual regarding grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.
  9. With appropriate revisions, the dissertation is of sufficient quality to be publishable in an academic or practice-oriented journal that is peer reviewed.

Formatting the Dissertation

  • The Table of Contents is accurate in terms of headings and page
  • Citations and the bibliographic/reference section are formatted in accordance with a standard style manual
  • The title page, pagination, abstract, notes, bibliography, tables, and figures are formatted in accordance with the University of Pennsylvania Doctoral Dissertation Manual
  • See the dissertation formatting templates below for more details

Final Defense of the Dissertation

The final dissertation defense is approximately two hours in length and is based upon the candidate’s dissertation. To schedule the final oral examination, doctoral candidates must submit the completed the Final Defense Hearing Form and abstract to at least two weeks in advance of the date of the final defense. The Student Records Office schedules the meeting room and formally notifies the dissertation committee that the meeting has been scheduled. The public is also welcome to attend these presentations.  A private discussion for certain periods of the defense may also be granted as per the decision of the dissertation committee.

The student, the chair, and majority of the committee are required to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings. 

Although all members of a student’s dissertation committee are expected to be physically present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings, in extenuating circumstances, one member may be physically absent as long as the absent member(s) participate(s) remotely. 

At least one term must elapse between passing the preliminary examination and the final defense. At the discretion of the dissertation committee, the candidate will be recommended to the faculty of the Graduate Group in Education for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. After the final defense hearing, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense ballot to collect their committee members’ digital approval. Once all committee members have submitted their approval, the Student Records Office will receive a final copy of the ballot and update the student’s record with the pass date.

Final oral examinations are not normally held during the summer. Candidates who wish to have the final oral examination during the summer must secure the approval of all committee members and register for Dissertation Supervision (EDUC 995) for the summer session in which the final oral examination is held. 

Procedure for Scheduling the Final Defense of the Dissertation

To schedule the final defense, the student must:

  1. Mutually agree with the committee members on a day, date and time to hold the
  2. Submit the Final Defense Notification form on the academic forms page of the GSE website and the proposal abstract online at least two weeks in advance of the date the hearing is to take The Student Records Office will assign a
    1. room for the defense hearing and notify the student, the committee members
    2. and the program manager. The notice will also be posted on the bulletin board in the second floor administrative suite, and the building monitors.
  3. Having passed the final defense, the student will submit a Penn GSE Dissertation Hearing/Defense Ballot to collect committee members’ digital approval and update the transcript with the pass date.
  4. Tuition is waived the semester after students successfully pass the final defense This waiver is only for one semester and cannot be extended.

Required Documents for Ph.D. Dissertations

Acceptance of the Dissertation

The Graduate Group reports to the graduate office regarding acceptance of the Ph.D. dissertation and its suitability for immediate publication by the prescribed deadline. Once the dissertation is approved by the Associate Dean, Form 152 (Acceptance of Dissertation) and Form 153 (Certification of Dissertation) will be electronically submitted on the student’s behalf. The committee members will electronically approve Form 152. Dissertations must follow the format prescribed in the Dissertation Manual, which describes in detail the requirements for preparing and filing the dissertation. Please allow three weeks for Graduate Group Chair approval before the dissertation is filed with the Graduate Group in Arts and Sciences.

  • Dissertation submitted to Faculty Affairs Office
  • Upon approval of dissertation on ProQuest, one copy printed on 100% acid-free paper
  • One Title Page printed on 100% acid-free paper with chairperson’s signature
  • Form 152 (Acceptance of Dissertation) will be electronically submitted on the student’s behalf by Penn GSE’s Office of Faculty Affairs
  • Form 153 (Certificate of Dissertation) will be electronically submitted by Penn GSE’s Office of Faculty Affairs
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates, link sent by Grad Arts & Sciences
  • Survey of Doctoral Students’ Opinion, link sent by Grad Arts & Sciences
  • Receipt showing zero balance if balance was recently paid
  • Steps for Submission of Education Ph.D. Dissertations

Publication and Submission of the Dissertation

Dissertations must follow the format prescribed in the Dissertation Manual. All dissertations will be sent to the Penn Libraries.

Filing the Dissertation

After successfully completing the final oral examination and making any required revisions to the dissertation, the dissertation must be filed with Van Pelt Library.

Consult the GSE academic calendar for filing deadlines pertinent to graduation dates. Before graduation, the candidate must submit to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciencesthe original and one copy of the final typed version of the dissertation. 

Tuition

Ph.D. students will be charged Full Tuition until they have completed 4 years of full-time study. The time may be as brief as three years if a student enters with credits from a post-baccalaureate degree program or successfully completes the Ph.D. in less than 4 years. 

If the student has not earned the Ph.D. degree by the end of the 4 years, the student will be charged Reduced Tuition until the degree is awarded, or for a maximum of 6 additional years. Continuous enrollment is required through year ten (or until graduation), with exception for approved leave.

After a maximum of 6 years at Reduced Tuition, the student ceases to be enrolled. (See above, Time Limit for Completion of the Ph.D. Degree.) Sitting for exams or defending dissertation during the summer will be subject to the Ed.D. tuition rate. 

With permission and recertification from the graduate group (see section above, “Recertification”), a student may reenroll for a final year in order to defend and deposit the dissertation. Such a student must pay reduced rate tuition for a final two semesters, unless all requirements are completed within one semester.

Childbirth and Adoption

A student in a Ph.D. program at Penn is eligible for time off of eight weeks for the birth or adoption of a child. The student must notify the graduate group chair and Advisor/Supervisor in writing, at an early date, of his/her plans to initiate a “Time Off” period, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.

  • Normally the “Time Off” period commences within two weeks of the birth or adoption..
  • During the “Time Off” period, the student remains enrolled full-time. In order to facilitate a rapid return, s/he may participate in the program as fully as s/he deems appropriate. By remaining on full-time status, student visa status and loan repayment schedules, if any, will remain
  • The student is entitled to academic accommodation including relief from academic requirements, such as postponement of exams and course
  • A student receiving stipend support is entitled to continuation of support during the “Time Off” period as follows:
    • Students receiving stipends from University/school funds are entitled to draw support for eight weeks during the academic year.
    • Students funded by government grants or other external funding sources are entitled to benefits as determined by the funding.

Family Leave of Absence

A student in the Ph.D. program at Penn may take an unpaid Family Leave of Absence for the birth or adoption of a child, child care, or care of an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent) with a serious health condition. University policy on family leave is available in the Pennbook, here.

  1. Students may take a Family Leave of Absence for one or two semesters.
  2. The student is expected to notify the graduate group chair and adviser in writing of his/her plans to take a Family Leave at an early date, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to cover any teaching/research responsibilities.
  3. Family Leave “stops the clock” on the student’s academic requirements, including service requirements, for the duration of the leave.
  4. During the period of Family Leave, the student may arrange to continue Student Health Insurance, but is responsible for the payment of his or her own premiums. Upon paying a fee, students on approved Family Leave will retain their PennCard, e-mail accounts, library privileges, and building access.
  5. Funding commitments from the institution are deferred until the student returns from Family Leave. Students receiving funding from external sources, such as government grants, are subject to the conditions established by the funding source.
  6. Service requirements (e.g., teaching, research) will be met by the student following return from Family Leave.
  7. Requests for extension of Family Leave beyond one year, or for repeated Family Leaves, may be made. Approval of an extension, deferral of funding, and continued academic accommodation is at the discretion of the Graduate Dean. 

*IMPORTANT: If you anticipate adding a dependent (e.g., newborn) to your Penn Student Insurance Policy while on Family Leave, you must remain in ACTIVE student status at the start of the fall semester. Students should arrange with their school/division to maintain full-time student status for at least 31 days from the start of fall classes, after which time the Family Leave status can be recorded in the Student Records System. After the birth/adoption, contact the SHS Insurance Coordinator to enroll the dependent. The premium for dependent coverage is payable directly to Aetna Student Health.

Graduation

The GSE academic calendar lists the deadlines for completing degree requirements in order to graduate in any academic term. All degree candidates must apply to graduate on-line by the deadline published on the GSE academic calendar. Ph.D. students must also apply on-line to graduate with Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Failure to apply for graduation by the published deadlines will make it impossible to receive the degree at the time desired.

GSE holds one commencement ceremony each year in May for students who have completed degrees in December of the prior fall term, May or August of the current academic year.

Please check GSE academic calendar for deadlines on the final defense and commencement RSVP.  Check the GAS Ph.D. academic calendar for deadlines to deposit the dissertation and applying for the degree. The Student Records Office asks for two weeks notice to schedule your defense May graduates must:

  1. You must submit the GSE graduation application by the deadline here
  2. You must apply for the degree through GAS (in addition to GSE) by the deadline here
  3. You must defend and submit your dissertation for GSE review by the deadline.
  4. You must deposit your dissertation with Graduate Arts and Sciences by the deadline 

August graduates who participate in the May commencement ceremony:

  1. Must apply to graduate by the deadline listed in the GSE academic calendar.
  2. Will have their diplomas mailed to them by the Office of the Secretary of the

University approximately three months after they have completed their degree requirements.

If you intend to graduate in August, these are the important dates to keep in mind:

If you intend to graduate in August but do NOT want to pay an additional tuition fee, you will need to have your final defense completed by the end of the Spring term as per the GSE academic calendar.  If you defend your dissertation AFTER this deadline, you will have to pay 1 CU tuition at the EdD rate, because you have to pay tuition the semester you defend your dissertation.  Penn GSE will NOT pay this tuition fee during the summer, even if you are on a fellowship of any kind.  Consult with external fellowships for guidelines on summer tuition payment.  An August graduation means that you have deposited the dissertation per the GAS guidelines for the Summer term.  Please note that GSE must review a Ph.D. dissertation before it is deposited with GAS.  Both GSE and GAS deadlines must be met to graduate in August.

Certificate of Advanced Study

Students who complete all requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy except the preliminary examination and the dissertation may apply to the Assistant Dean to receive a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS). The CAS is a form of recognition for completing significant doctoral level study in an educational field. Students who elect to receive a CAS will not be eligible to re- enter a degree program and complete the doctorate at a later date. A CAS may be awarded to students matriculated in the Graduate School of Education who:

  • are in good standing;
  • have completed all requirements for an approved doctoral specialization of study except the preliminary examinations and the dissertation; and
  • are recommended by the faculty of the appropriate The certificate contains:
    • The name of the School and the University;
    • The name of the student;
    • The title of the field of specialization in which the advanced study was completed;
    • The signature of the Dean of the Graduate School of Education.

Contact the Penn GSE Office of Student Services

Office of Student Services

gse-contactsa@gse.upenn.edu

Ann Tiao

Assistant Dean of Student Services
atiao@gse.upenn.edu
(215) 898-7019

Imani Harvin

Associate Director and Case Manager for Student Services
imanij@upenn.edu 
(215) 573-2872

Whitney Jones

Coordinator for Student Services
whjones@upenn.edu 
(215) 898-6456