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 after initial enrollment to the graduate program.

Prior to arrival

  • Familiarize yourself with pertinent sections of the Graduate School Catalog.
  • 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.
  • Register for classes with the help of your advisor(s). If you're new to the University, you'll need to activate your University e-mail address at www.umn.edu/initiate.

Upon arrival

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

First year

  • Each student must meet with their advisor at the end of spring semester and discuss degree progress and goals for the future. The program coordinator will alert your advisor when it's time to schedule a meeting, and will also provide a form that will help shape the discussion and provide verification that the meeting took place. This meeting must take place every year until you graduate.
  • Begin discussing your dissertation topics with advisor(s).
  • Form your advisory committee.
  • Talk to your advisor about taking thesis credits. These can be taken at any time, pending your advisor's approval. By the time you graduate, you must have taken 24 thesis credits. You must take NR 8888; you may not take thesis credits under any other designator.

Second and third years

  • Finalize dissertation topic and prepare research prospectus.
  • Prepare and submit your graduate degree plan (.pdf) after the third semester or upon completion of 20 credits.  The PDF iconNRSM Research Plan and Statement of Education and Career Goals (.pdf) must accompany the submission of the degree plan. Please note that the approval process for the degree plan can take a month or longer. Please plan accordingly.
  • Form your examination committee using the Graduate School's online reporting process, "Assign/Update Prelim Oral Committee." Note that this is an exclusively online process. The Graduate School requires that the degree plan be on file before you officially name your committee using this online process, but for the purposes of approving your degree plan, we require that you inform of us of who your committee members are at the time you submit the degree plan. 
  • Schedule and complete the written preliminary exam. Your advisor must report the results to the NRSM program office directly (typically via e-mail).
  • Complete course requirements. If you did not complete a master's degree as an NRSM student, a departmental seminar, NR 8107, must be taken. There are no hard and fast rules about the number of credits doctoral students must complete; it is at the discretion of the advisor and the committee but is subject to program review. It is expected that doctoral students will have 35 to 45 post-baccalaureate degree, graduate-level course credits on their degree program, in addition to 24 thesis credits. Applicable credits may be transferred in from a relevant master's degree 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.
  • Schedule the Oral Preliminary Examination with your advisor(s), committee members, and the Graduate School. This cannot take place until the written prelim results have been officially recorded and until the degree program has been approved and is on file with the Graduate School. The Oral Preliminary Examination Report form is sent to the advisor prior to the exam.
  • Complete Oral Preliminary Examination and submit Oral Preliminary Examination Report form.
  • Submit names of faculty on your final oral examining committee. The Graduate School requires that the final oral exam committee be named separately, but for most students this committee will be identical to the prelim oral exam committee.
  • Work with advisor(s) to conduct research and prepare thesis.

Fourth year and onward

  • If there are changes to the degree plan, they need to be petitioned within the program and to the Graduate School using this Petition form. (.pdf)
  • Make sure you have taken all 24 of your required thesis credits.
  • Request a graduation packet from the Graduate School.
  • If necessary, apply for Advanced Doctoral Status (.pdf). This form stays in the program office.
  • Complete thesis (dissertation) and related research.
  • Write any papers for publication (not required, but desirable).
  • Submit Thesis Reviewers Report form (part of the graduation packet) to the Graduate Student Services and Progress office, 333 Bruininks Hall. The Final Examination Report form is issued at this time.
  • Schedule Final Oral Examination with your advisor, committee members, and the Graduate School using the online scheduling tool. The Grad School must have a minimum of one week's advance notice. You should also notify the NRSM program coordinator and your departmental office so that the seminar can be announced.
  • Present thesis in a public seminar, followed by the defense of the thesis in the final oral examination. The defense is attended by the examination committee and closed to the public. The Graduate School will send the Final Oral Examination Report form to the committee chair prior to the final exam.
  • Submit the Final Oral Examination Report form, dissertation, and any other necessary materials to the Graduate Student Services and Progress office, 333 Bruininks Hall.
  • Give a copy of the Final Oral Examination Report form to the program coordinator.
  • It is customary to 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.
  • Meet with the NRSM DGS and program coordinator for exit interview.
  • Return keys to your department, along with any other equipment you may have borrowed.

Doctoral degree requirements and suggested timeline of events and milestones