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Doctoral Procedures

Completing Your Doctoral Program

You are responsible for making sure you follow the policies and procedures of the GSE. You must meet high standards of academic integrity (i.e., no plagiarism as detailed in the University Code of Conduct, no violation of copyright, no misrepresentation of data, etc.). Violations of these standards subject you to disciplinary action. Information regarding the processes used to resolve allegations of violations of academic integrity is available on Fordham University’s website. You are also expected to behave ethically and professionally throughout your doctoral studies, including in-field placements, practica, and internships. Failure to do so may result in termination from the program.

Page navigation:

  1. Planning with your Advisor
  2. Credit Requirements and Time-to-Degree Limits
  3. Credit Transfers, Extensions, and Other Program Changes
  4. Grievance Procedure
  5. Steps in the Doctoral Completion Process
  6. Provisional and Permanent Matriculation
  7. Maintenance of Matriculation
  8. Research Apprenticeship
  9. Fordham University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  10. Comprehensive Examinations/Assessments
  11. Dissertation Seminar
  12. Dissertation Proposal and Approval
  13. Dissertation Research
  14. Dissertation Review by Committee Members
  15. Dissertation Oral Defense
  16. Dissertation Format Review
  17. Graduation Application
  18. Commencement

Planning with your Advisor

On admission to a doctoral program, you will be assigned to a program advisor. You and your program advisor must meet to develop a plan for completing prerequisites. You must consult with your advisor at least once each semester to determine coursework and to plan for the Research Apprenticeship/Capstone Project and Dissertation Seminar.

Credit Requirements and Time-to-Degree Limits

To earn a doctoral degree at Fordham University, you must complete a minimum of 45 graduate credits beyond the master’s degree (or its equivalent). With the approval of your program advisor, program chair, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, you may include courses taken in other schools of the University. The actual number of credits you need to complete your doctoral degree depends on the requirements of your program and on your previous academic and professional background.

You must be mindful of the eight-year time period to complete the doctoral degree. The eight-year period begins at the start of the first semester following admission to the program, or on the beginning date of any course or courses that are accepted for transfer credit, whichever is earlier. If you are a part-time student you are encouraged to take a minimum of two courses each semester in order to complete the degree within this time period. Taking fewer than two courses per semester may jeopardize financial aid and meeting the eight-year deadline.

Credit Transfers, Extensions, and Other Program Changes

While in the doctoral program, you may need to request a transfer of graduate credits from another institution, an extension of time to complete a requirement, a leave of absence, or other special action that affects your individual program. All special actions and modifications to your program must be requested in writing, using the appropriate form, and must be approved by your program advisor, program director, chairperson of your division, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Forms are available from the secretary of your division or online via the GSE website. It is your responsibility to monitor the approval process including the ultimate notation on your transcript for approved requests. See the current GSE Bulletin for additional information.

Occasionally, there is a compelling reason for a doctoral student to take a course at another accredited institution. You must request permission, and receive written approval from your advisor, the division chairperson, and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, to take the course and must obtain pre-approval to transfer the course credits before you take the course. Approval may be granted for pre-requisite courses to be taken at an appropriate baccalaureate or masters level. If the course will be part of the doctoral-level content, then it must be taken at that level in a doctoral-granting institution. An official transcript from the other institution showing your grade for the course will be needed to complete the transfer. A maximum of  six credits may be transferred from another institution. Only courses in which you have earned an A, A-, B+ or B and that were not used to fulfill requirements for another degree are transferable.

Grievance Procedure

Please refer to Academic Policies and Procedures.

Steps in the Doctoral Completion Process

Although doctoral program experiences and schedules differ, the general framework of activity across programs and students remains fairly consistent. This section provides you with an overview of the process. Your program advisor will work with you to develop your plan of study and a specific timetable that takes you from admission to graduation.

  1. Successful completion of 12-15 credits of required coursework
  2. Permanent Matriculation
  3. Research Apprenticeship (Capstone Project for CLAIR)
  4. Completion of Required Coursework
  5. Comprehensive Exam/Assessment/Portfolio
  6. Dissertation Seminar, Dissertation Proposal, and Dissertation Review
  7. Oral Defense and Dissertation Format Review
  8. Graduation Review

Provisional and Permanent Matriculation

Admission to the doctoral program is provisional. As such, during the semester in which you expect to complete 12 to 15 credits of doctoral work, you must apply for permanent matriculation status by enrolling in either ASGE 0900, CLGE 0900, CTGE 0900, or PSGE 0900. You should check division-specific procedures regarding permanent matriculation. Permanent matriculation is granted upon the recommendation of faculty, the chair of your division, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. This may require the submission of a paper or other material for review. Your division chair will notify you of the results of your application for permanent matriculation status and the date of your permanent matriculation will be recorded on your official transcript.

Maintenance of Matriculation

To maintain matriculation status you must be registered for at least one course during all Fall and Spring semesters from the time you begin your program until you are awarded your degree. You must register for Maintenance of Matriculation (EDGE 9995) if you are not taking courses.

If, after your oral defense, you do not meet the standards for dissertation format on time for graduation in that semester, you will need to register for maintenance of matriculation for the following semester. You will also need to re-apply for graduation. To maintain your matriculation each semester, you must register for one of the following:

  • Program coursework
  • Research Apprenticeship (ASGE 8001, CTGE 8001, PSGE 8001) or Capstone Project (CLGE 8001) for CLAIR
  • Leave of Absence (complete form if necessary)
  • Dissertation Seminar (ASGE 8750 [Ed.D.], ASGE 8751 [Ph.D.]; CLGE 8110/8111; CTGE 8110/8111, PSGE 8999)
  • Maintenance of Matriculation (EDGE 9995, if necessary)

If, for some period, you cannot make progress toward your degree because of serious personal circumstances, you must apply for a Leave of Absence. Applications for Leaves of Absence are available from your division office. Leaves of Absence are granted for one semester at a time. Time granted for a leave is included in the eight-year time limit for degree completion. Multiple leaves of absence are not permitted.

If you have not maintained matriculation through registration for a year, you will lose your matriculation status and will have to apply for re-admittance to your program. If you re-apply, and are admitted again, the program requirements in effect at the time of your re-admittance will have to be met. You may be required to take additional courses to meet these requirements or to update your knowledge if a significant amount of time has elapsed.

As a doctoral student you must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher throughout your program. If your GPA falls below 3.5, your academic progress and matriculation are subject to review and termination.

Prior to approval for graduation, the University will review your registration record and will charge you fees for maintenance of matriculation for any semester in which you were not registered or were on an approved leave of absence. If this occurs, approval for your graduation will be delayed until you have met your obligations. To avoid extra fees and unnecessary delays, be sure to maintain matriculation throughout your doctoral program.

Research Apprenticeship

You must enroll in Research Apprenticeship (ASGE 8001, CTGE 8001, PSGE 8001), or in the Capstone Experience (CLGE 8001). This typically involves one full year beginning in the fall and continuing through spring and summer sessions. Before you enroll you must have been permanently matriculated and must have completed at least 21 credits in your program. There are no course credits associated with Research Apprenticeship. A one-time fee for the three consecutive semesters is charged at the beginning of the fall semester. After that you must register each semester but without additional fees. Research Apprenticeship requirements (e.g., reports or projects needed to complete and length of the experience) may vary by program; please see your advisor for details.

Choosing an Area of Research Interest and an Advisor

It is your responsibility to seek faculty to sponsor your work in this experience. You are advised to consider GSE professors as advisors on the basis of the following criteria:

Research background and interests. You and your professor should have a mutual interest in areas of research on which you may collaborate. You might take an active part in your advisor’s ongoing research or you may suggest a research theme within your sponsor’s general area of interest and/or expertise.

Availability. Faculty members who undertake to sponsor a student’s apprenticeship or capstone project make time to consult regularly with the student. The number of students working with an individual professor will depend on the professor’s time, research agenda, and interests.

Expectations for the Research Apprenticeship Experience

You will conduct a small-scale research project under the direction of the apprenticeship sponsor. Together you should select and carry out experiences from the following:

  1. Conceptualizing research problems
  2. Identifying questions and problems for investigation
  3. Reviewing related theory and research
  4. Considering appropriate designs, methods and instrument
  5. Developing or selecting instruments (e.g., interview protocols, standardized tests, discourse coding systems) consistent with the purposes and design of their research
  6. Field testing instruments and procedures for use in research
  7. Collecting, organizing, analyzing, and reporting original or archival data appropriate to selected research problems
  8. Reporting research findings at professional meetings
  9. Drafting research articles and submitting them to professional journals

You must meet all requirements outlined in the syllabus for the course, which you receive upon registration for Research Apprenticeship in your division. The final paper must demonstrate:

• appropriate APA style and clarity in writing;
• understanding of at least one research approach and method;
• clarity and competence in reporting results or synthesizing previous research; and
• signs of growth as a scholar and educator.

Expectations for the CLAIR Capstone Project

The purpose of the capstone project is to demonstrate the breadth and depth of scholarship, as well as the unique talents and experiences of each student. As such, the project should be tailored to the student’s interests and ideally tied to the dissertation.

It is up to the student and his or her mentor to decide on the project. The project should:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of theory and research on a topic related to contemporary learning of the student’s choosing
  2. Recognize multiple perspectives (and/or inter-disciplines)
  3. Help the student move toward identifying a dissertation topic (ideally the project should relate directly to the dissertation)
  4. Be limited in scope such that the student can complete the project within one academic year
  5. Help the student develop important research, writing, and technological skills necessary for completing the dissertation
  6. Help the student develop skills that will be useful for future employment opportunities

Students are encouraged to be innovative and to think outside the box. There are no predefined formats. Projects can be innovative or traditional. For more information see the CLAIR Doctoral Handbook.

Fordham University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)

All research proposals must be reviewed by Fordham’s IRB. This includes research apprenticeship and capstone projects, pilot studies for dissertations, dissertation research, faculty research, and other studies conducted where the intent is public dissemination. The IRB may require changes to the proposed research to assure compliance with ethical standards. Doctoral candidates must successfully defend their dissertation proposals before applying for review by the IRB.

Fordham requires all faculty and student researchers to complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training Program as a condition of IRB approval. Note that if you conduct your study with participants in a school district, institution, or agency, you must inquire about those organizations' human participant policies. There may be additional requirements before access to human participants is granted. For example, the New York City Department of Education requires approval for all research done in New York City Schools, which in part entails providing proof of Fordham IRB approval.

To summarize, before you collect any data for your study, you must have approval from your dissertation committee, division chair, the IRB, and the data collection site. Learn about procedures, application forms, review dates, and other information about the review process from the IRB. The email address is Phone: (212) 636-7946. Fax: (212) 636-6482.

Comprehensive Examinations/Assessments

Typically, after you have completed, or are close to completing your required coursework (with the exception of Dissertation Seminar), a comprehensive examination that allows you to demonstrate your integration of knowledge is required; the exact point at which you take the exam is based on your program. Programs have a process for determining eligibility for doctoral comprehensive exams. The comprehensive exam may involve a written examination, a paper, a formal research study, or another activity. The content and format are determined by your division and program faculty. Please see your advisor or program coordinator for information about orientation sessions and for scheduling of the exam. It is important that you attend and become familiar with the specific requirements for your program.

You may register for comprehensive experiences through, using the appropriate call numbers (CRNs) for your division, course numbers, and sections that you need to take. See the applicable semester schedule for appropriate CRNs. The deadline for registration is listed in the current semester's academic calendar.

You will receive written notice of the results of your comprehensive examinations or assessments after the faculty evaluate the exams. For details regarding specific programs (e.g., CPY), see the program handbook or consult your advisor. When you have passed the comprehensive examinations, you are considered a candidate for the doctoral degree and are eligible to begin formal work on your dissertation research.

In some programs, you may be asked to revise sections of your comprehensive exam if your exam response did not fully meet the criteria for a passing grade. If the revision is acceptable, you will receive a passing grade on your comprehensive exam.

If you are not successful the first time you take comprehensive examinations or assessments, you may have a second examination or assessment during the next administration for your division. If you are not successful on the second attempt, you may be terminated from the program.

Dissertation Seminar

After you have completed all required courses, and have passed your comprehensive examinations/assessments/portfolios—or during the semester in which you are registered for these experiences—you may register for dissertation seminar (ASGE 8750 [Ed.D.]; ASGE 8751 [Ph.D.]; CLGE 8110/8111; CTGE 8110/8111; PSGE 8999). Once you register for Dissertation Seminar, you must register for Dissertation Seminar each Fall and Spring semester thereafter, including the semester of your oral defense. You may work on your dissertation, but no official action will be taken with respect to approval of your dissertation work until you have successfully completed your comprehensive exams/assessments. Before you register for dissertation seminar, it is expected that you will have begun to develop a research focus and some potential research questions for your dissertation study. You should acquaint yourself with the research interests and areas of specialization of the faculty before deciding on your research objective. In addition, you should invite and secure a mentor for your study.

Work collaboratively with your mentor to identify readers for your dissertation committee. Occasionally, due to the topic of the dissertation or other special factors, it is appropriate for someone other than a full-time GSE faculty member to serve as a reader (this includes Fordham faculty from other schools in the University). If you want to propose someone other than GSE faculty, you must submit a recent copy of the person's curriculum vitae to Dissertation Seminar faculty via the chair of the division for approval. No non-GSE faculty may serve on your committee without the written approval of the division chairperson. The only exception to this policy is for full-time faculty from Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education or from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. After your proposal is accepted, you will receive a copy of the review form for your records. Your transcript should serve to document this event.

The committee’s primary responsibility is to assure the integrity of the research project. Committee members’ expertise and experience enable them to critically follow the development of the candidate's project from the formation of the research question, through the exploration of related literature and data, through the design of the study, to the analyses of the data, and to the development of outcomes. They provide guidance during the development of the research questions, literature review, design of the study, and selection of methods of analysis. Generally, they also critically review the chapters of the dissertation as they are prepared and point out areas requiring additional attention.

You are encouraged to develop an approved dissertation proposal in one or two semesters of dissertation seminar. Be mindful that you need to obtain permission to use copyrighted material, such as assessment instruments. Letters of permission related to these instruments are included in your final dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal and Approval

The proposal approval process differs across programs and divisions. Check with your program coordinator, in the program handbook, and in the division dissertation manual for specific guidelines.

Note that dissertation proposals follow the same formatting and editing criteria as dissertations with two exceptions; use “DISSERTATION PROPOSAL” in place of “DISSERTATION” on the title page, and do not use PhD or EdD after your name. (See Part II of this handbook for details regarding the formatting of your dissertation.)

When your dissertation proposal has been approved by your committee, complete an “Approval of Doctoral Dissertation Proposal” form and have your committee members sign it indicating their acceptance of your proposal. Then submit the form, one or two copies of your dissertation proposal (as requested by your division), and evidence of IRB approval to your division chair for review. If your division chair approves, s/he will forward these materials for filing in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Note that formal approval of the dissertation proposal by the faculty and division chair, and IRB approval, must occur before any data involving human participants are collected.

Final approval of the dissertation proposal is noted on your transcript as ASGE 0999, CLGE 0999, CTGE 0999, or PSGE 0999.

Dissertation Research

Your doctoral dissertation is a capstone to your academic experience at the GSE. Through your critical review of the literature, you will demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and understanding of a select facet of your chosen field. Through your selection of a research problem, you will take that knowledge and understanding to a new level – one that expands or refines recognized definitions, that applies extant knowledge in new settings, or that searches for alternative definitions, causes, or results. Your research design, methods, and analyses will provide evidence of your capacity to function as a contributing colleague in your field.

Your dissertation represents a substantial investment of your intellectual capital and personal energy. It will stand as a significant professional credential throughout your career. Your dissertation also will reflect upon the GSE’s reputation for academic excellence.

Each dissertation is the work of an individual doctoral candidate, and as such, you, the doctoral student, have the primary responsibility for conducting research and developing a dissertation document that meets the requirements and standards of the GSE. Your dissertation must present original work and conform to academic and professional ethics codes and procedures. See the most recent APA publication manual for guidelines for attribution of ideas as well as the use of quotes. There are software programs that can assist you in detecting plagiarism (e.g., and and assist you with citations. Individuals who fail to meet the standards for these codes and procedures through plagiarism, violation of copyright, misrepresentation of data, or other violations of academic integrity, are subject to disciplinary action. Information regarding the process used to resolve allegations of violations of academic integrity is available in the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

While developing your proposal and conducting your research, you are responsible for meeting and working with your mentor and committee members on a regular basis. You must secure committee approval, and potentially IRB approval, in writing for modifications to your study's approved design, procedures, questions, or other elements. You must also have committee approval for data collection procedures and for communication with outside agencies and participants.

Dissertation mentors provide guidance on the development and refinement of research questions, on the scope and direction of the literature review, and on the suitability of proposed research designs, data analyses, and similar related issues. Generally, mentors and readers critically review the chapters of the dissertation as they are prepared and alert the candidates to areas requiring additional work. During this review process, mentors and readers point out deficiencies in the document's format and in the way the content is expressed. Mentors and committee members are responsible for evaluating the readiness of the draft versions of dissertations for defense and format review. Although this rigorous review will address issues of completeness, content quality, and formatting, mentors are not responsible for copyediting dissertation manuscripts. Spell-checking, copyediting, formatting and the like are your responsibility and your progress can be delayed by lack of attention to format.

After the mentor and committee members agree that the dissertation is ready for the oral defense, you must submit it to the division chair for review. When the chair has approved the dissertation, then may you work with your committee to schedule the oral defense.

Dissertation Review by Committee Members

Consult the GSE academic calendar each semester for relevant deadlines on submitting your manuscript to your mentor, readers, and chair of the division. When you have completed your dissertation manuscript, give one copy to each committee member for review. Your committee will approve your dissertation when it meets all substantive standards established by the professional community and the GSE format requirements. When your committee members have approved the dissertation, each of them will sign the “Approval for Scheduling the Oral Defense of the Doctoral Dissertation” form. You will then need to submit one copy of your dissertation along with the signed form to your division chair for review. The chair will review your dissertation and accept or reject the recommendation of your committee. If the dissertation is approved, the chair will sign the form and you may schedule your oral defense.

Dissertation Oral Defense

Your oral defense is scheduled after the dissertation has been reviewed and approved by your dissertation committee and division chairperson. You may then arrange a date and time for the oral defense with your dissertation committee. Check with your mentor regarding the possible requirement of a chairperson for the oral defense. If applicable, you must submit an additional copy of the dissertation to the person who will chair the oral defense. Your oral defense will focus chiefly on your dissertation research and its impact in the field in which the research was conducted. Immediately following your defense, your committee will evaluate your research and performance.

The outcome of this evaluation will be one of four ratings:

  1. Passed.
  2. Passed, contingent upon minor modifications of the dissertation document.
  3. Passed but with major revisions (e.g., content).
  4. Not acceptable at this time.

If changes are required, you will be given a specific timeframe in which to make the modifications and submit the revisions to your committee. EDGE 0990 on your transcript indicates that you have passed the Dissertation Oral Defense.

After you successfully defend your dissertation and make any recommended changes, you submit your dissertation for format review. Submission to the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of a fully approved dissertation provides evidence that a doctoral candidate’s dissertation has been successfully defended in an oral hearing.

Dissertation Format Review

After your dissertation has been approved by your committee members and division chair, please consult division-specific policies. Before you can officially graduate and receive your diploma, your dissertation must be approved for format. Format review (EDGE 0999) assures that the document meets all formatting and stylistic requirements of the GSE and is ready for publication. Your program may approve an alternate format for your dissertation (number of chapters, for example). If so, your advisor will provide you with details. In general, however, you should adhere to the formatting guidelines presented in Part II of this document. The Office of the Dean will provide you with the steps to take during the format review process.

If the dissertation or parts thereof are subsequently published, the preliminary matter of the printed copy must contain a statement that the book or part thereof was part of a dissertation, presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Education in the Graduate School of Education, Fordham University.

Graduation Application

Being included on the list of candidates approved for graduation is not automatic, even if you have completed your courses, successfully defended your dissertation, and have had your dissertation manuscript approved by the format review process. You must apply for graduation in order for your transcript to be evaluated. Make sure you apply for graduation on Please check the academic calendar for deadlines.

Fees related to the dissertation process and for graduation are paid to the University Bursar. Consult a current GSE Bulletin (online) for a complete list of applicable fees. Following the review of your academic record for graduation eligibility, the bursar's office will review your financial records to determine whether all financial obligations have been met. If any problems exist, you will be notified.


The date of commencement, traditionally a Saturday in mid-to-late May, is listed in the GSE academic calendar each year. Commencement ceremonies take place at the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. If you have applied for graduation, you will receive information in early spring regarding the rental of academic attire, diploma availability, and when to pick up commencement invitations and tickets. The invitations are distributed through the Dean’s Office following their announced availability.

Students graduating in May whose academic and financial records are completely cleared will receive their diplomas at the end of the ceremony. Alternatively, after graduation day, you may make arrangements to obtain your diploma at the Registrar’s Office at Lincoln Center or have it sent in the mail. Hooding by your mentor occurs at the Graduate School of Education ceremony immediately following the University Commencement. Note: Your diploma will indicate your degree, "Doctor of Philosophy" or "Doctor of Education," as appropriate. It will not indicate your area of specialization. Your specialization is listed on your official transcript.