Doctor of Philosophy Degree



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Educational Policy Studies
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The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Students in the doctoral program must develop a plan of study in collaboration with a faculty committee, including the advisor and at least one other faculty member in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. A third faculty member should be included on the committee, referred to as the Advising Committee, as early as a reasonable choice can be made, and no later than the point of defining the coverage for the preliminary examination. The third member of the Advising Committee need not be a member of the EPS faculty. Both the student and the advisor must agree to the membership of the Advising Committee.

In addition to the entering colloquium, EPS 701, the plan of study must include a Concentration (see below) as well as appropriate breadth. The specific courses and related learning experiences contained in the plan of study are developed with the Advising Committee in accordance with the nature of the student’s Concentration (see below). All Ph.D. Programs must meet (and typically they exceed) the 51 credit minimum requirement set by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School. Plans of study will specify a projected sequence of courses both within and outside the Department, as well as other learning experiences where appropriate. Students are urged to develop and to have an approved plan of study by the end of their second semester of graduate study. The plan must be developed in consultation with the advisor and at least one other member of the Advising Committee, and must be approved by the advisor. Students not ready by the end of their second semester of study to identify a Concentration, and therefore not ready to develop a plan of study, should consult with the Department Chair, in addition to their advisor, to consider options. By the end of their third semester of graduate study in EPS, all students interested in pursuing the doctorate must have developed an approved plan of study. As their graduate study progresses, students may find they desire to change their Concentration or need to adjust their program of study. They should do so by consulting their Advising Committee, and receiving the approval of their current, and, if relevant, prospective advisor.

As part of this Graduate School 51 credit minimum requirement, doctoral students must have an external minor, meeting the requirements of both the Department of Educational Policy Studies and (with the exception of the Distributed Minor) a second department in which the student minors. Minors will usually be specified as part of the student's Concentration. To ensure coherence, a minor program must be approved by the appropriate external department as early as possible; departments may have specific rules about this deadline. The minor agreement form must be filed with and approved by the minor department and the student's advisor if it includes just one department, and by the student's advisor and the EPS chair if it is a Distributed Minor, which is defined in the Graduate School Bulletin as including coursework spread over two or more departments. The Graduate School requires that the minor be completed before the student may take the Preliminary Examination, and before a student can be officially admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, a technical status defined by the Graduate School designating the period during which the student writes the dissertation.


Structure of the Doctoral Graduate Program

Concentrations: All EPS doctoral students, in consultation with their Advisor and their Advising Committee, must develop a Concentration which will consist of a minimum of 18 credits, of which a minimum of 12 credits must be taken within EPS. No more than 3 Independent Study credits can be counted toward fulfilling the overall 18 credit minimum requirement, but Independent Study credits cannot replace and cannot be counted toward fulfilling the minimum 12 EPS course credits. The required 701 course cannot be counted toward the Concentration.

We anticipate that EPS students will often take courses outside of the Department, in part, to fulfill, their Concentration requirements. In all cases, actual course-taking specifics, and decisions with regard to fulfilling Concentration requirements, will be made in consultation between the student and the Advisor. Courses cannot be counted twice.

Breadth Requirement: All doctoral students, in consultation with their Advisor and their Advising Committee, will develop a Breadth Requirement which will consist of a minimum of 12 EPS course credits. These 12 credits must be taken in domains other than the one in which the Concentration is primarily identified. Course credits used to fulfill this breadth requirement cannot also be used to fulfill Concentration requirements. Neither Independent Study credits nor the required 701 course may be counted toward the Breadth Requirement.

External Minor: All doctoral students must fulfill an External Minor. Minimum course-taking requirements to fulfill the External Minor are established by the external department.

As indicated above all candidates for the Ph.D., including those who began as MA candidates in the Department, must take a minimum of 30 credits in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, including the required EPS 701 Colloquium in Educational Policy Studies, and including no more than 3 credits of Independent Study (999). No Research of Thesis (990) credits may be used to fulfill this requirement.


Concentrations Within EPS

Concentrations are intended to embody the content knowledge and learning experiences for students to achieve necessary levels of proficiency within a field of study. While these levels of proficiency are acquired largely through coursework and other traditional academic activities, in appropriate fields, they may also be based in work experiences, internships, independent studies, and similar activities. Concentrations are the cornerstone of the required program of study doctoral students in EPS; therefore it is important that students become familiar with the guidelines for their Concentration.

Degree Concentrations

Ph. D. Research Requirement

Because of the great variety of scholarly work done in the EPS community, the department does not mandate a specific set of methodology courses. Prior to taking prelims, however, Ph.D. students will be expected to attain the methodological competence needed to undertake dissertation research. The precise program to fulfill this requirement is to be worked out by each student in conjunction with his or her advisor and reflected on the record of student progress kept in the department files. At least one question on the preliminary examination will draw on a student's understanding of the methods of research employed in that field.

Ph. D. Foreign Language Requirement

Major professors have responsibility to determine whether students need to develop and demonstrate skill in one or more foreign languages for the program they plan. Dissertation work involving study of a setting where another language is spoken ordinarily requires such skill. The specific language required, if any, and the level of competence to be attained shall be determined by the student's major professor. Whenever feasible, language examinations will be administered by the appropriate language department. Language requirements, if specified, must be met before the Preliminary Examination is taken.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examination

The Ph.D. preliminary examination is administered by an examining committee comprising three faculty members of professorial rank (Assistant Professor or above), appointed by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the major professor. At least two of the three faculty must hold their appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. The student's major professor, who must be a member of the Department of Educational Policy Studies, chairs the Preliminary Examination Committee. As part of this examination the candidate is expected to demonstrate competence in one or more fields of scholarly endeavor. The examination is taken at the completion of course work and before serious dissertation research is undertaken. The Preliminary Examination must be taken within the equivalent of three years of full time study after admission to the Ph.D. program. (A student may file a request for an extension of time with the department, provided that the request is supported in writing by his or her major professor.) The prelim exam may not be taken before completion of 9 credits subsequent to completion of the masters degree requirements. In order for courses in any particular seminar to count toward these 9 credits, the Master’s paper must be submitted to the advisor at least two weeks before the first day of classes of the semester in question, and the oral Masters examination must be held within the first four weeks of the semester. Any revisions of the Master’s paper eventuating from the oral exam must be completed and approved by the Masters committee within two weeks of the examination, and no further meetings of the committee may be necessary for approval. If these conditions are not met, coursework in a particular semester may not count toward the 9 credits of post-Masters work required before the Preliminary Examination.

The nature, format and content of the Preliminary Examination shall be decided by the Preliminary Examination Committee in consultation with the student. The results of the examination shall be reported to the candidate after all members of the committee have read the examination and reached their judgements. In the event that the candidate fails all or part of the examination, permission to be re-examined in all or part of the examination rests with the Preliminary Examination Committee. The terms of this decision shall be communicated in writing to the student. A student who fails the Preliminary Examination and whose Committee recommends against re-examination is automatically dropped from the program, unless upon appeal by the student the recommendation is reversed by Departmental faculty vote. A "pass with distinction" may be granted with unanimous consent of the Examination Committee.

Ph.D. Dissertation Committee

After the passing of the Preliminary Examination, a three-member Dissertation Committee chaired by the student's advisor, is appointed to guide the doctoral candidate in preparing a dissertation proposal and in the research and writing of the dissertation itself. Two of the three members of the Committee must be members of the Department's faculty. This requirement may be waived only by Departmental faculty vote. Approval of the dissertation proposal, subsequent to a proposal hearing meeting attended by the Dissertation Committee members and the candidate, must precede initiation of primary dissertation research. The approved dissertation proposal, or a short summary thereof, is distributed to all faculty members of the Department. Every approved proposal is placed on file in the Departmental Office.

Dissertation Completion and Final Ph.D. Oral

The doctoral dissertation and final Oral Examination must be completed within five years after formal admission to the PhD program. A student may file a request for an extension of time with the department, provided that it has first been approved by his or her dissertation committee. The dissertation shall be presented to the members of the Ph.D. Oral Examination Committee three weeks prior to the date of the examination. This final Oral Examination potentially covers the entire graduate education of the candidate, including work in the minor. It tends, conventionally, to be restricted to a defense of the thesis and an examination concerning closely related material. The Ph.D. Oral Examination Committee, consisting of at least five faculty members, is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School, usually on recommendation of the advisor. This committee usually consists of the three members of the Dissertation Committee and two additional faculty members of professorial rank. A majority of the Ph.D. Oral Examination Committee must hold appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, unless this requirement is waived by Departmental faculty vote. At least one of the five must represent a graduate field outside the student’s major. The department does not normally hold Ph.D. oral examinations during the summer session.

Joint Major

A student who contemplates entering a joint major program in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and another department is required to draw up a memorandum to the Graduate School indicating that intent no later than the beginning of the second year of graduate study in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. In this memorandum the student is to list the proposed program of courses and seminars to be offered as fulfilling the requirements for the Ph.D. or Master's degree. The student must list an advising and counseling committee made up of at least two professors from each department. The student is to secure the consent of the four professors and have them sign the memorandum. One copy of this memorandum is to go to the Graduate School, and one to each of the two departments. Graduate School approval is required for a joint major.

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