General requirements of graduate degree programs are described on the following pages. Additional requirements for specific programs are contained in the corresponding departmental section.
Distribution of Courses
Each master’s degree program includes a minimum of 30 credit hours of courses. At least 18 credit hours of the courses included in each student’s program for a master’s degree shall be those numbered 6000 or above. No courses below the 5000 level are allowed.
At least 18 credit hours must be earned in the major departmental field. (In order to obtain graduate credit for these courses, however, the student must have taken at least 12 credit hours of advanced credit in the major field, or else six credit hours in that and six in a closely related field approved by the chair of the major department and the graduate dean.) The remaining hours may also be taken in the major field, or else in one or more minor fields approved as closely related to the major subject.
The great majority of courses offered meet three hours a week and have a value of three credit hours. See the Credit Hours Policy in the Enrollment and Academic Records section. The second digit of each course number indicates the value in credit hours of that course. All courses attempted for credit on a student’s graduate program must average B (3.000) or better, with no grade less than C (2.000) applying toward the degree.
Transfer of Credits
Not more than six credit hours of work from another institution shall apply toward a candidate’s master’s program. All credit for work transferred must show grades of A or B and is subject to the approval of the major department. An official record of such work must be on file in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at Southern Methodist University at least 30 days before the student expects to receive the degree.
Official college transcripts are required for all college-level work attempted, regardless of transferability. Military transcripts are also required for students receiving VA benefits; more information is available from the University Registrar’s Office at www.smu.edu/EnrollmentServices/Veterans. Students are responsible for making sure a transcript of all transfer work attempted is sent to the University Registrar’s Office immediately following completion of the work.
No credit will be allowed toward the master’s degree for courses taken more than six years before the date on which the degree is to be conferred. An exception to this policy can be made only by faculty members of the department in which the student is doing his or her major work, following a written examination of the subject matter petitioned.
The thesis, if required, must be written under the guidance of a thesis director who is a member of the faculty. The director will be appointed by the departmental faculty after consultation with the candidate.
In submitting a thesis, the student thereby grants permission to the dean of Central University Libraries to make copies at the director’s discretion, upon the request of individuals or institutions.
Candidates may be required to pass an oral and/or written examination, which will include a defense of the thesis if applicable and will test the candidate’s knowledge of the major and minor fields. This examination must be taken before or on the date set by the University calendar.
With approval of the departmental faculty, the departmental chair or the departmental director of graduate studies, as appropriate, shall appoint a committee of the graduate faculty to review the thesis (if applicable) and to conduct the examination. The departmental chair or director will notify members of the committee of their appointments and report the committee membership to the dean of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
The committee for master’s level shall consist of at least three members, two of whom must be the major adviser or a designate, who will serve as chair, and a tenured/tenure-track member of the candidate’s major department. The third member (or additional members) of the committee may be an additional member of the candidate’s major department or an external reviewer, appointed with the approval of the department chair.
The examination will be conducted by the committee and by any other members of the faculty who wish to attend as nonvoting members. The chair of the examining committee will set a date, hour and place for the examination that is agreeable to the committee members and the candidate. A unanimous vote of the committee is necessary for approval of the examination. Students who fail the examination may be given a second examination, at a time to be determined by the committee, but not later than one year after the initial examination. Those who fail the examination the second time are thereby disqualified for a degree.
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded in recognition of high attainment in a special field of knowledge, as evidenced by examination and by a dissertation presenting the results of significant and original research. General requirements are listed below. In many programs, however, there are additional requirements, and students should carefully check the policy in their particular program.
The purpose of the qualifying examination is to test the student’s knowledge of the field of specialization, to assess familiarity with the published research in the field, and to determine whether the student possesses critical and analytical skill necessary for completion of degree. The examination may be written and/or oral and normally is administered two or three years after matriculation in the program.
When a faculty committee is responsible for this examination, the members should be drawn from the field of specialization so as to be able to assess the student’s ability in breadth as well as depth. If a minor field also is involved, a faculty member in the minor area should participate in administering the qualifying examination. Even though it is not necessary for the qualifying examination committee to be the same as the dissertation committee, a significant overlap between the two committees is desirable for continuity.
A student who fails the qualifying examinations may apply for the privilege of a second examination. Failure on the second examination will render a student ineligible to continue in the Ph.D. program.
Admission to Candidacy
Admission to a graduate program does not imply admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. To be admitted to candidacy, the student must satisfy the language requirements, if any, in the program and must pass the qualifying examination in the program of study. Upon completion of these requirements, the department will recommend to the graduate dean that the student be admitted to candidacy. The recommendation will be made within five months of the qualifying examination or satisfying the language requirement, whichever comes later.
Residency and Coursework
The Ph.D. degree normally requires at least 48 credit hours of graduate work, of which a maximum of 12 credit hours can be in dissertation research. Normally, a transfer student may be granted up to 24 hours of credit. Additional transfer credit may be granted only with the approval of the graduate dean. The 48 credit hours may include research, reading and dissertation courses. Some departments may require additional hours. (See department requirements for details.)
Continuous enrollment is required of Ph.D. students, unless they are on research leave. Students undertaking full-time research off campus may petition the department for a research leave of a maximum of two years. Students who do not enroll for two consecutive terms without formal research leave must reapply for admission to the program. Students who do not enroll for one term without formal research leave may petition the graduate dean for reinstatement of their student status. After a student has completed the required minimum credit hours toward the Ph.D. program, enrollment for research is possible for four additional terms.
The minimum residence requirement is a total of 18 credit hours completed within three terms of residence at SMU. International students may need to satisfy additional residence requirements to comply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations.
Ordinarily a student enrolled for full-time study should pass the qualifying examination by the end of the third year. An extension of one year may be granted by the dean upon submission of a petition by the student and the endorsement of the student’s department. Except under unusual circumstances, extensions beyond the fourth year will not be granted.
The doctoral dissertation should be submitted and accepted within five years after the student has been admitted to candidacy. An extension of one year can be granted by the graduate dean. After this time, the students will be dropped from candidacy and can be readmitted only by passing a second qualifying examination, except under special circumstances. In such cases, new time limits will be set by the student’s committee with the approval of the dean.
Time spent on research leaves will not be counted as part of the time limit. If a student must take an unavoidable leave of absence for medical or family reasons, leaves may be granted without affecting time limits. The decision to grant such a leave of absence will be made by the department and approved by the graduate dean. In the case of part-time students, time limit requirements will be interpreted appropriately to allow for their part-time status.
Ordinarily, credit is not allowed for graduate courses (including transfers) that are more than six years old at the time of the qualifying examination. Should the time limits be exceeded, a department may petition the dean to re-validate the credits. Approval is granted only in cases of exceptional merit.
A candidate for the doctoral degree must present an acceptable dissertation within the major field of study. It must demonstrate that the candidate has technical competence in the field and has done research of an independent character. It must add to and modify what was previously known or present a significant interpretation of the subject based on original investigation.
Prior to admission to candidacy, the candidate may be required by the department to present a prospectus for the dissertation to a faculty committee.
The defense is an examination administered by the student’s Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee shall consist of 1) the major adviser, who will serve as chair; 2) at least two other full-time members of the candidate’s major department; and 3) at least one external reviewer who is either a faculty member outside the candidate’s department or, with the approval of the department chair and the graduate dean, a scholar not associated with the University.
For all candidates, the major adviser (or designate) must be a full-time member of the department. Faculty members with joint appointments (excluding courtesy appointments) are considered internal members of the departments only, and they may not serve as outside members of the committee. The Dissertation Committee is appointed by the department chair or the director of graduate studies with the approval of the dean after the presentation of the prospectus, given well before the dissertation defense.
The examination will be conducted by the committee and by any other members of the faculty who wish to attend as nonvoting members. The chair of the examining committee will set a date, hour and place for the examination that is agreeable to the committee members and the candidate, with notification at least a week in advance.
Notice of the dissertation defense should be distributed to all department faculty, the dean of the college and the graduate dean. A unanimous vote of the committee is necessary for approval of the examination. Students who fail the examination may be given a second examination, at a time to be determined by the committee, but not later than one year after the initial examination. Those who fail the examination the second time are thereby disqualified for a degree.
Preparing the Dissertation for Submission
The basic requirements for preparing the dissertation are outlined in the Dissertation and Thesis Guide located online at www.smu.edu/graduate/CurrentStudents/Graduation/.
The dissertation must be completed to the satisfaction of the student’s dissertation adviser and Dissertation Committee, and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Deadlines for the submission of dissertations are outlined at the beginning of each term. Upon successful completion of the dissertation defense, the Signature Page must be signed by the Dissertation Committee. Students are responsible for all fees, including those for electronic publishing.
In submitting a dissertation, the student grants permission to the dean of Central University Libraries to make copies at the dean’s discretion, upon the request of individuals or institutions.