Dissertator status is conferred by the Graduate School upon successful completion
of the preliminary exam. After confirmation of successful completion of prelims
is filed with the Graduate School, you will receive formal notification that you
are classified as a dissertator. You are then expected to engage in full time research
to produce your dissertation. You will be informed about the minimum dissertation
credit load requirement and tuition charge. You MUST maintain registration in every
subsequent fall and spring semester as a dissertator or face enormous financial
penalties as a result of failure to do so. Fellowships, TA/PA appointments, or other
stipend packages for most Ph.D. students cover the cost of dissertator status,
just as they do for non-dissertators. However, any penalties incurred by failing
to meet registration requirements are borne by the student, not the university,
the school, or the department. If, after completing your prelims, you do not
hear of your official change in status to dissertator prior to registration for
the following term, contact Belle Heberling (Ph.D. Coordinator) to verify that all
proper steps have been taken and that you are in the correct status!
Every department has a different standard and practice for this important step in
the achievement of the Ph.D. It customarily occurs at the end of the third year of
Ph.D. study. You should talk at length with your advisor (and other faculty members)
about the nature of the preliminary exam in your respective department. What are
their expectations; what activities will you undergo; how are you evaluated; what
happens upon completion of the prelim, from the department’s perspective.
Regardless of how your department approaches the prelim, all Ph.D. students are required
to do several things prior to becoming a dissertator (the status achieved upon successful
completion of prelims). When you are preparing for prelims, be sure to notify Belle
Heberling at least four weeks ahead of the scheduled date as certain
forms must be prepared, signed by specific individuals, and filed.
Rules of the Graduate School normally prohibit registration for course credit once
dissertator status has been achieved. If there are any courses or seminars you wish
to take for academic credit (and wish to show on your transcript as such) you should
register for them prior to becoming a dissertator. While you will not be permitted
to “back out” of dissertator status for a semester to take a desired
course, there may be unique circumstances under which you may be permitted to register
for variable credit seminars after becoming a dissertator. Please contact the Ph.D.
Office for further information about this situation.
There are a number of prescribed steps for defense and filing of the dissertation
prior to conferral of the degree. This is an important and frequently stressful
time in your life. You do not need added surprises, last–minute hassles, or
unnecessary delays in any steps at this time. It is critical that you familiarize
yourself with everyone’s expectations: your dissertation committee’s;
the school’s; and the Graduate School’s.
Two very useful Graduate School online resources are:
Once again, be sure to stop by and talk with Belle Heberling (Ph.D. Coordinator)
well in advance of your impending defense (at least four to six weeks).
She will ensure that all of the deadlines are on your calendar and all arrangements
are in order.