Doctoral Program Policy

Doctoral students are required to follow the policies described on this page in addition to the policies set by the University and Graduate Studies. Individual doctoral programs may have published retention and dismissal policies that differ from those noted below. In these cases, the departmental policy will supersede the general University policy.

Advanced Standing

Students who have completed graduate-level courses elsewhere may apply to be admitted with advanced standing. 

  • At least 45 credits of a student's doctoral program must be completed at Minnesota State University, Mankato. (Excluding the DNP program)
  • The individual programs determine the maximum number of advanced standing credits that may be accepted. 
  • Up to 12 of the credits taken at Minnesota State Mankato may be credits associated with the capstone project. Individual doctoral programs may have different credit limits.
Courses accepted as advanced standing do not affect the Minnesota State Mankato graduate grade point average. Consult the doctoral program's websites to see program-specific advanced standing policies.

Advisory Committee

The program coordinator assigns doctoral students an advisor during their first semester. Students may change advisors by submitting a Change of Advisor request.

View the Examining/Advisory Committee page for specific Doctoral Advisory Committee requirements.

Qualifying Examination

Doctoral students must pass a qualifying examination or, with the approval of the advisory committee and program, an alternate qualifying activity before beginning their dissertation/capstone project and at or near the time of completion of all required course work. The examination process is intended to determine if a student is prepared and qualified to begin work on their dissertation/capstone project.

Qualifying examinations may contain written and oral components. In either case, the student's performance is documented by the advisory committee and the department chair.

To be eligible to take the qualifying exam, a student must have:
  • An appointed doctoral advisory committee
  • Have completed sufficient doctoral course-work as specified by the program
  • No more than 6 credits with 'I' or 'Incomplete' grades

Individual doctoral programs will have additional policies concerning qualifying exams.

May I Re-take the Qualifying Exam?

Qualifying exams (or failed portions of a qualifying exam) may only be re-taken only once.

Second exams should be scheduled to allow sufficient time to make corrections identified in the initial exam.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to doctoral candidacy confirms that the student possesses sufficient knowledge of the academic specialty and has demonstrated potential to engage in, and to complete, the capstone project. After completing coursework specified by the doctoral program, passing the necessary exams, and satisfying all other program requirements, the student is prepared to apply for Doctoral Candidacy. Please consult the appropriate departmental web pages to determine the doctoral program's policies concerning admission to candidacy.

A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy only with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies, acting upon the recommendation of the members of the student's advisory committee, and if applicable, the Dean of the college of the student's content area.

Continuous Registration

Doctoral students must register for at least three academic credits within the doctoral program each fall and spring semester until all courses and examinations are completed, and the student is admitted to candidacy. Thereafter, doctoral students are required to register for at least one graduate-level credit from their doctoral program every semester until they receive their degree. Registration for summer sessions will not substitute for the mandatory registration during both semesters of the academic year.

Students who fail to register each semester after passing qualifying examinations must arrange to register for the missing semester credit hours, or the student will not graduate.

Doctoral Student Time Limit

Students must complete all doctoral program requirements, including the dissertation/capstone project, within seven years of being admitted into their doctoral program. After seven years, if the student has not yet completed their dissertation/capstone, doctoral candidacy is terminated.

Students may apply for readmission by submitting a letter requesting readmission to the Dean of Graduate Studies. If readmitted, the student must again pass a qualifying examination and fulfill other conditions imposed by the department to establish currency.

Students are readmitted to doctoral candidacy if the qualifying exams are passed and the other conditions for admission to the doctoral program are met.

Students then have three years from their date of readmission to complete their dissertation/capstone.

Dissertation

Every doctoral program requires a capstone to be completed for their program. Most doctoral programs require a dissertation, but some programs offer other capstone opportunities. To determine which capstone options are available, review the Graduate Academic Catalog or visit the program/department website.

A dissertation must make a unique contribution to what has previously been written and known. The dissertation must be approved by the majority of the members of the student's advisory committee and must be presented in a standard scholarly format as established by the program and Graduate Studies.

Approved dissertations must be submitted to Graduate Studies by the posted deadlines.