Dissertation Requirements for Doctoral Degrees

The dissertation must demonstrate the student’s capability for original scholarly contributions to their field of study. The preparation of the dissertation must conform to The Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation. All forms referenced in this section can be found on The Graduate College website. Where indicated, forms must be completed and signed by the student, the committee members, the committee chair, the doctoral program director, and the department chair and then forwarded to The Graduate College for review and approval by the dean of The Graduate College. The preparation of the dissertation must conform to The Graduate College Resource Guides to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation. 

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee must be composed of approved doctoral graduate faculty members. The minimum number of committee members varies by doctoral program. The student should consult with the doctoral program director regarding the composition of the committee. To form the dissertation committee, the Dissertation Committee Request Form must be completed and signed as indicated on the form. 

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

The student must submit the dissertation proposal and an official Dissertation Proposal and Proposal Defense Form to his or her dissertation committee. If the dissertation research involves human subjects, the student must obtain exemption or approval from the Texas State Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to submitting the proposal form to The Graduate College. The IRB approval letter must be included with the proposal form. If the dissertation research involves vertebrate animals, the Dissertation Proposal and Proposal Defense Form must include the Texas State IACUC approval code. Each Ph.D./Ed.D. program prepares its own procedures for the dissertation proposal defense. The procedures may be obtained from the doctoral program director. Following the dissertation proposal defense, members of the dissertation committee, the doctoral program director and the department chair sign the Dissertation Proposal and Proposal Defense Form. The signed form and one copy of the proposal are then submitted to the dean of The Graduate College for approval before the student proceeds with research on the dissertation.

Dissertation Enrollment and Credit

A Ph.D./Ed.D. student may typically begin enrolling in a dissertation course during the term following completion of required course work as specified by the Ph.D./Ed.D. program. The number of dissertation credit hours students enroll in must reflect the amount of work accomplished on the dissertation that semester.  It is the responsibility of the committee chair to ensure that students are making adequate progress toward their degree throughout the dissertation process.  Once the student advances to candidacy, the student must continue to enroll in at least one hour of dissertation course credit each fall and spring semester (and summer, if receiving dissertation supervision and/or using university resources) until the dissertation has been completed, defended, submitted, and approved by The Graduate College. The minimum number of hours of required dissertation credit varies by Ph.D./Ed.D. program. Dissertation projects are by definition original and individualized projects.  Thus, depending on the topic, methodology, and other factors, some projects may take longer than others to complete.  If the dissertation requires work beyond the minimum number of dissertation credits needed for the degree, the student may enroll in additional dissertation credits at the committee chair's discretion.

The only grades assigned for dissertation courses are PR (progress), CR (credit), W (withdrew), and F (failing). If acceptable progress is not being made in a dissertation course, the instructor may issue a grade of F. If the student is making acceptable progress, a grade of PR is assigned until the dissertation is completed. Dissertation credit (“CR”) will be awarded only after the dissertation has been approved by The Graduate College and released to Alkek Library.

A student must be registered for a dissertation course during the term or Summer I (during the summer, the dissertation course runs ten weeks for both sessions) in which the degree will be conferred.

Dissertation Deadlines and Approval Process

Dissertation deadlines are posted on The Graduate College website under "Current Students." The completed dissertation must be submitted to the chair of the dissertation committee on or before the deadlines listed on The Graduate College website.

The following must be submitted to The Graduate College by the dissertation deadline listed on The Graduate College website:

  1. The Dissertation Submission Approval Form, bearing original (wet) and/or electronic signatures of the student and all committee members.
  2. One (1) PDF of the dissertation in final form, approved by all committee members, uploaded in the online Vireo submission system. Some doctoral programs may require additional copies; the student should check with the doctoral program director regarding additional program requirements.

After the dissertation is approved by The Graduate College, Alkek Library will harvest the document from the Vireo submission system for publishing in the Digital Collections database (according to the student's embargo selection). Ph.D./Ed.D. students must submit the completed Survey for Earned Doctorates (SED) online by The Graduate College dissertation approval deadline which is available on The Graduate College website.

All forms must have all appropriate signatures. In additional to original (wet) signatures, the following methods of signing are acceptable:

  • printing, signing, scanning, and emailing the form
  • notifying the department in an email from their university's or institution's email account that the committee chair can sign the form on their behalf
  • downloading and digitally signing the form per our instructions using the university's licensed platform (which is currently Adobe Acrobat)*

If this process results in more than one document with signatures, all documents need to be submitted to The Graduate College together.

All theses and dissertations are submitted to the Library through Vireo, the electronic thesis and dissertation deposit platform. The Library harvests approved theses and dissertations from this system for the online repository. No additional action is required on the student's part to provide or pay for the library copy. If they would like bound copies of their thesis or dissertation for their own use, students have the option of providing additional copies of their thesis/dissertation to have bound as personal copies or department copies for a fee. Please contact Alkek Library for information about that process.