VCU Bulletins

Health Related Sciences, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Program continuation and completion requirements

Continuation requirements

After admission to the Ph.D. program, the student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all course work completed at VCU. A student who falls below that minimum will have one semester to remedy the deficiency. Even with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better, a student may earn no more than two (six credit hours) grades of “C.” A student who receives a grade of “D” or “F” will be reviewed for continuation in the program by the department of their specialization.

Students are expected to maintain continuous enrollment while in the program. Following the completion of the core course work, students must register for at least one credit hour each fall and spring semester for continuation in the program. A student who fails to register must have advance approval to do so or will be dropped automatically from the program and must reapply for reinstatement. The maximum time to complete all of the requirements for the degree is eight calendar years from the date of entry into the program.

Course transfer or waiver

A maximum of 25 percent of the course work other than research may be transferred from another VCU program or outside institution and applied toward the Ph.D. course requirements. Transfer and waiver credit is given at the discretion of the program director after consultation with appropriate faculty members, subject to university approval. Courses taken as requirements for other degrees are not transferable. A waiver may be warranted if an equivalent course was taken. However, another course must be substituted for the waived course in order to fulfill the requisite 51 credit hours needed for degree completion.

Comprehensive examination

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to provide a vehicle through which students can demonstrate the ability to integrate their educational experience by adequately addressing complex questions pertinent to the current and developing knowledge of the allied health fields. Students are eligible to take each of the two comprehensive examinations upon successful completion of the appropriate core course work. The core exam must be taken within six months of completing the methods exam.

Two written examinations will be administered, one for the common interdisciplinary core and one for the research methods core. A three-member graduate faculty committee will develop and administer each exam. This committee will be made up of two members of the Core Advisory Committee and one member appointed by the program director. Each exam will be offered once in the fall semester, and once in the spring semester. Prior to completion of the semester in which the student becomes eligible to take each exam, he/she must submit a formal statement of intent to the program coordinator.

Students who receive a failing grade on their initial attempt will have one opportunity to repeat each comprehensive examination. Failure to pass an exam on the second attempt will result in termination from the program.

Program completion requirements

The doctor of philosophy degree is awarded after (1) the minimum 51 credit hours of course work are completed; (2) comprehensive exams are passed; and (3) either a dissertation is written and defended orally, or three first-author articles of publishable quality on research undertaken by the doctoral candidate once enrolled in the program are written and defended orally. The journal articles will be scrutinized for quality of scholarship by an internal research committee headed by the student’s research adviser. All three articles must be approved by the internal research committee prior to submission.


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Last update: 6/13/2008

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