Doctoral Students

The requirements and deadlines for completing your doctoral degree.


This page outlines the policies and procedures that doctoral students need to know in order to successfully complete their degree.

Please refer to the Catalog for full policy information regarding graduate degrees.

Our Student Success page lists resources and services to assist you while at Oregon State.


Use the flow chart to understand the major milestones for your degree.

Doctoral Degree Flowchart
Doctoral Degree Flowchart

The degree completion steps and deadlines section on this page provides details and a timeline for completing your degree.

Number of credits

  • All doctoral degree programs require a minimum of 108 graduate credits.
  • At least 36 graduate credits should be devoted to the preparation of the thesis.
  • A minimum of 27 regular, non-blanket credits must be included on program of study. (Courses without a zero in the middle, for example 503). No more than 15 credits of blanket-numbered courses, other than thesis, may be included in the minimum 108-credit program.
  • All graduate student programs of study must consist of, at a minimum, 50 percent graduate stand-alone courses.
  • The remaining credits may be the 500 component of 400/500 slash courses.
  • If a minor is declared, it must consist of at least 18 credits or 15 credits for an integrated minor.

Time limit

Effective beginning with students matriculating fall term 2016, all work toward a doctoral degree, including coursework, thesis (if required), and all examinations, must be completed within nine years of the indicated start term on the Departmental Action Form. Extensions of this time limit may be requested by submitting a petition to the Graduate School.

Continuous enrollment

Minimum registration

You must be registered for a minimum of three graduate credits, or on an approved leave of absence, until all degree requirements are completed. To avoid registering for the term following your defense, submit the final corrected and signed thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School before the first day of the term following the term in which you defend. For details on this policy see "Continuous Enrollment: 1. Minimum Registration" in the Catalog.

If you are not using university facilities or faculty time during the summer then you may not have to enroll for the summer session. Please refer to the Continuous Enrollment Policy in the Catalog, and work with your program, to determine if this applies to you. During summer session, a minimum registration of 3 credits is required for graduate assistants.

Leave of absence

A completed (with signatures) Leave of Absence Form must be received by the Graduate School at least 15 working days prior to the first day of the term involved. Unless on an approved leave of absence, all graduate students in degree and certificate programs must register continuously for a minimum of 3 graduate credits, excluding summer session, until their degree or certificate is granted or until their status as a credential-seeking graduate student is terminated. If a student is granted a leave of absence during a term, however, they must also withdraw from the term. See the Catalog for more information on Registration Requirements.

GPA requirements

A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 is required for all courses taken at OSU as a graduate student and for courses included in the graduate program. Grades on transfer courses will be included in the calculation of the program GPA, but will not affect the GPA of courses taken at OSU. You must meet the minimum GPA requirement before scheduling the final oral exam.

Grievance procedures

Please visit the grievance procedures page for information.

Concurrent degrees and dual majors

Learn about earning concurrent master's degrees or pursuing a dual major.

Graduate assistantships

An assistantship provides a monthly salary, tuition remission, and an institutional contribution toward mandatory fees and the graduate assistant-only health insurance premium in exchange for service as employment. Learn more about assistantships.

Establishing your committee and Graduate Council Representative

A minimum of five members of the graduate faculty, including two from the major department/program, one from each declared minor field, and a Graduate Council Representative are required. The major professor is one of the two members representing the major department/program. Visit the committee page to learn the committee requirements and how to select a GCR.

Exams and meetings

Preliminary examinations

Doctoral students must pass a comprehensive preliminary examination to determine the student’s understanding of their major and minor fields and also to assess the student’s capability for research. Students must enroll for a minimum of 3 credits during the term they take a written or oral preliminary exam.

At least one complete academic term must elapse between the time of the preliminary oral examination and the final oral examination. If more than five years elapse between these two examinations, the candidate will be required to take another preliminary oral examination.

Find the full policies regarding preliminary exams in the Catalog.

Thesis proposal meeting (program dependent)

A formal thesis proposal meeting is recommended but not required by the Graduate School. It is required for some majors. This meeting should be held with the student’s doctoral committee prior to the start of any substantial doctoral thesis research.

Final exam

Prior to the final oral examination, students must:
  1. Have a minimum GPA of 3.00 on both your program of study and cumulative graduate transcript.
  2. Have completed all coursework on the program of study with a minimum grade of "C".
  3. Contact members of the committee to arrange the date, time and place, then schedule the exam with the Graduate School not less than two weeks before the examination using the Exam Scheduling Form.
  4. Submit one examination copy of the pretext pages of the thesis to the Graduate School at the time you schedule your exam. Pretext pages are found on the Thesis Guide.

The exam should be scheduled for two hours. The first part is the thesis defense portion and is open to all interested parties. After the thesis defense portion of the exam, the examination committee may exclude all other persons and continue with the examination of your knowledge of your field.

Physical presence at committee meetings

3/13/2020: While OSU is operating under significantly curtailed on-campus activities, remote participation of at least some committee members is expected. The following altered requirements apply:

  • Advance agreement of the student and all committee members has been obtained.
  • All participants join in with two-way audio and video connections; audio only connections must be approved by the major professor if the video connection is not possible.
  • When the student is the remote participant, their connection must be an audio and video connection.
  • Any visual aids or other materials have been distributed in advance to the remote participants.
  • The committee members participate in the complete meeting, discussion, presentation, and evaluation.
  • The student is responsible for making arrangements.

Tips for meetings

Check out our tips for scheduling a final exam committee meeting.

Degree completion steps and deadlines

  Watch the degree completion video.

1. Select program committee members. Your committee must include a Graduate Council Representative.

Committee Details


Before completing 5 terms.

2. Develop and submit a Program of Study with your program. This is your plan for completing your degree. Speak with your advisor, department chair, or departmental graduate coordinator for guidance on completing this requirement.

Program of Study Details


Before completing 5 terms.

3. Schedule your preliminary oral exam. You must have an approved program of study on file with the Graduate School.

Schedule your Oral Prelim


At least 2 weeks before your prelims.

4. Apply to graduate. If you are graduating spring term, you must file a diploma application regardless of whether or not you will attend commencement.

File diploma application


At the start of the term you plan to graduate, or sooner if you are graduating in spring term and plan on taking part in commencement.


At least 2 weeks before your final oral examination.


At least 2 weeks before your final oral examination.

7. Distribute a defendable copy of your thesis to your committee.

Thesis Guide


At least 2 weeks before your final oral examination.

8. Deliver or email pretext pages of your thesis to the graduate school. Visit the Thesis Guide to find the pre-text pages template and the thesis formatting guide.


At least 2 weeks before your final oral examination.

9. Successfully complete your final exam.


Pick the date with your committee.

10. Complete your edits and upload your thesis to ScholarsArchive. Uploads are required within six weeks of your final exam. If you don't upload by the start of the next term then registering for a minimum of three graduate credits is required. See below for exact dates.



  • To graduate the same term as your final exam: upload by the last day of the term.
  • To graduate the following term without having to register, upload before the first day of the following term.

Optional. Review the steps and deadlines to be in the commencement ceremony at the end of spring term. Students who complete in the summer term after commencement can also take part in the spring ceremony.

Commencement details and deadlines


Various deadlines


Clear all remaining degree requirements

You must remove or make arrangements to remove all program deficiencies (e.g., courses with Incomplete grades, missing transcripts for recent transfer courses) before taking the final oral or written examination. All program deficiencies must be removed before your degree is certified. All incomplete grades on your Program of Study (with the exception of research/project credit in lieu of thesis) must be removed prior to your final exam. Courses to remove deficiencies cannot be taken on an S/U basis.

Final deadlines

 If you want your diploma for the current term complete the following degree requirements by 5 p.m. on the dates listed first under each term below.

 If you need more time, but do not want to register for the next term, please complete the following degree requirements by 5 p.m. on the dates listed second under each term below. This will result in getting your diploma in the following term.

Degree requirements to complete by dates below:


Summer Term 2020
  • Degree Deadline for Summer Term

    September 4, 2020*   

  • Degree Deadline Without Registering for Fall Term

    September 22, 2020   

Fall Term 2020
  • Degree Deadline for Fall Term

    December 11, 2020   

  • Degree Deadline Without Registering for Winter Term

    January 3, 2021   

Winter Term 2021
  • Degree Deadline for Winter Term

    March 19, 2021   

  • Degree Deadline Without Registering for Spring Term

    March 28, 2021   

Spring Term 2021
  • Degree Deadline for Spring Term

    June 12, 2021*   

  • Degree Deadline Without Registering for Summer Term

    June 20, 2021   

Summer Term 2021
  • Degree Deadline for Summer Term

    September 3, 2021*   

  • Degree Deadline Without Registering for Fall Term

    September 21, 2021   

* If you plan to participate in commencement while finishing spring or summer term, please follow the commencement deadlines.