Doctoral Degree Handbook

View and download a checklist

What follows is a combined listing of program and Graduate School requirements and a suggested timeline.  It is understood that each student's situation is unique and that the actual timeline for each student may vary, but it is important to remember that all doctoral degrees conferred by the University of Minnesota must be earned within eight calendar years of initial enrollment in the program. Additional information about completing a Doctoral Degree at the University of Minnesota can be found on the Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) website.

Prior to Arriving on Campus

  • Communicate with your advisor(s) about your role as their student, mutual expectations, your assistantship (if applicable), and courses you plan to take for the first semester. Students may refer to the Best Practices for Graduate Student Success document for more information about student and adviser responsibilities.
  • Register for classes with the help of your advisor(s). If you're new to the University, you'll need to Activate Your University Email AddressBe sure to enroll in our required orientation course, NR 8101.

Upon Arrival

  • Meet with your advisor(s) and establish a meeting schedule.
  • Introduce yourself to the NRSM Program Coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
  • Go to your major advisor's departmental office to visit departmental administrator. Here you will likely obtain a mailbox, office assignment, keys, employment forms, and information about your assistantship (if applicable).

First Year

  • Work with major advisor(s) to identify a dissertation topic and develop a research plan.
  • Form your advisory committee.
  • Prepare and submit your GPAS Degree Plan, ideally during the second or third semester.  The NRSM Research Plan must accompany the submission of the degree plan.
    • Please note that approval of the degree and research plans can take up to a month. 
  • Talk to your advisor about taking thesis credits (NR 8888). These can be taken at any time, pending your advisor's approval. By the time you graduate, you must have taken 24 thesis credits. 
  • Meet with major advisor(s) at the end of each academic year to complete an Annual Student Review and discuss degree progress and goals for the future.

Early Doctoral Career (Years 2-3)

  • Complete the Written and Oral Preliminary Examinations
  • Complete course requirements:
    • 24 thesis credits - NR 8888,
    • 35 coursework credits (minimum),
      • Applicable graduate coursework credits may be transferred in pending committee, program, and Graduate School approval. Pending this approval, there is no limit on how many credits may be transferred, but the University requires that at least 12 course credits be completed here at the University of Minnesota.
    • NRSM Seminar - NR 8107 
      • Doctoral students who completed NR 8107 during their MS degree do not have to retake the seminar requirement. 
  • Work with advisor(s) to conduct research and prepare dissertation.

Late Doctoral Career (Year 4 and Beyond)

  • Complete any remaining coursework requirements.
  • Work with advisor(s) and committee to prepare for dissertation defense.
  • When preparing to defend your dissertation, visit the Final Doctoral Examination page for important information about preparation, paperwork, and requirements. 
  • Request a Graduation Packet from the Graduate School (typically prior to the final examination).
  • Apply for graduation (link to application can be found in the above mentioned graduation packet). 
  • Give a copy of your dissertation to your advisor(s). Also, submit a copy to the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, which provides long-term preservation and access services for the intellectual and creative output of the University's academic, research, and administrative communities. The Conservancy is an open access repository and makes submissions freely available, worldwide.
  • Return keys to your department, along with any other equipment you may have borrowed.