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Washington State University
College of Education

Our Graduate Programs – Current Doctoral Degree Student Information

Doctoral Timeline for Degree Completion

**Be sure to consult your specific program handbook for detailed information and the Graduate School’s Navigating your Degree

Semester one

Meet with your temporary advisor.

An academic advisor will be key in helping you navigate through the policies put forth by the Graduate School and your department. On your departmental admission letter your temporary advisor and their contact information will be listed. Be sure to contact your temporary advisor early in your first semester to begin mapping out your plan for your second semester and to ask any course/program related questions.

Resolve Admissions Contingencies.

Check your status with the Graduate School and clear any contingencies listed on your original admissions certificate. You may also find this list in your myWSU > Task/To-Do button. You will not be able to file a Program of Study (listed below) until all contingencies are cleared. Registration holds may be added that prevent future registration until contingencies have been cleared.

Establish ties in Washington.

Since graduate tuition at WSU is considerably less expensive for Washington residents than for out-of-state graduate students, you may want to establish residency* as soon as possible.   Visit the Graduate School’s website for more information on Establishing WA State Residency.

*Applies only to Domestic Students.  International students are ineligible for WA State Residency.

However, international or domestic students appointed to an assistantship receiving tuition waiver(s) must establish a residence (or domicile) in the State of Washington to be eligible for their waiver(s).

Required Trainings.

Responsible Conduct of Research Training.  Link to exam: Responsible Conduct of Research

All graduate students are required to take the CITI-RCR training (Collaborative Institutional Teaching Initiative Responsible Conduct in Research training), which takes about 2 hours. There are different modules within the CITI-RCR focused for different disciplines (e.g., biomedical sciences, physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and humanities). Your department can direct you to which module is most appropriate for your graduate training. For RCR training, a grace period of one semester will be granted for students who have yet to complete the training at the start of their assistantship. However, a hold will be put on their registration for future semesters, preventing processing of assistantships until the trainings have been completed. To ensure timely processing of assistantships, students should complete the trainings in their first semester by the following deadlines: September 30 (Fall semester), January 31 (Spring semester) and June 30 (Summer semester).

Discrimination/Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Prevention.

WSU is committed to being an institution that demonstrates trust and respect for all persons and cultivates individual and institutional integrity in all that we do. The goal of the online DSHP course is to assist WSU in maintaining a safe and respectful working and learning environment. It describes different types of discrimination and harassment, including prohibited personal behaviors, identifies key WSU Executive Policies addressing these topics, and provides links to specific offices and resources available to help in cases of alleged discrimination and harassment. For more information and to sign up for the course, visit this site at Human Resource Services. For DSHP training, there is a one semester grace period as described above for RCR training.The Office of Civil Rights Compliance & Investigation has provided additional information on WSU’s response policy for discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.

Semester two

Select your committee.

By now, you’re probably settled in and have an idea of the type of research you would like to conduct. Before you start, you must select your dissertation committee, which will help guide you through your research. A dissertation committee consists of three faculty members: three permanent tenure-track faculty, one member holding the highest appropriate degree, and at least one member from your minor department. For more information consult the Graduate School’s web page on academic policies (

File a Doctoral Program of Study – no later than when you have 30 credits.

Your committee chair, in conjunction with other members, should aid you in developing your proposed program of study. This form can be found on the Graduate School’s Forms page. This includes an official list of classes you have taken, those you intend to take, and your research interest. After the proposed program is agree upon by each committee member, it should be uploaded into your myWSU >Profile > Service Request workflow system.  This workflow system will route your form to your committee, the department chair and ultimately, the for the final approval, the Graduate School. You should follow-up to ensure the program of study is submitted to the Graduate School for final approval by the end of your second semester.

How to Upload Graduate School Forms through your myWSU Portal

Subsequent semesters

Be sure to check with your academic department for additional requirements and deadlines that may apply.  To aid you in your journey in your degree an Example of a Traditional Dissertation Timeline has been created for you to take to your advisor to use and modify for your needs.

  • Example of a Traditional Dissertation Timeline (Word or PDF)

Apply to change your residency status.

After you have proof that you’ve lived in Washington for twelve straight months, you may apply for residency (, which enables you to receive the lower in-state graduate tuition rate.

Schedule and pass your preliminary examination.

Consult with your department and the Graduate School’s academic policies and procedures for more information about preliminary exams. Be sure to complete and submit the Preliminary Examination Scheduling Form ( at least fifteen business days prior to your exam date. You must be enrolled for a minimum of two (2) credits of 800 to schedule this exam.

Degree Completion Time clock

Time-to-degree clock starts either three (3) years beyond passing your preliminary exam or ten (10) years beyond your oldest coursework on your Program of Study, which ever option is the shortest time to degree completion and graduation.

Seek IRB approval.

The University requires approval for the use of human or animal subjects in research, so before you begin you must seek approval from the Institutional Review Board. You will need to provide proof said approval in order to use human or animal subjects in your research prior to scheduling your final examination. For more information, contact the Office of Grant and Research Development (

Schedule and pass your D1 research proposal.

After you have completed your preliminary/candidacy examination, start working on your Research Proposal (D1). This is a concise and convincing overview of the research you propose to undertake for your dissertation. A link to the COE scheduling and approval form is here, scheduling forms are due 10 business days before your exam, and approval forms are due within 5-7 business days after your exam. You may enroll in (800) research credits, please check with your advisor.

Your final semester

All doctoral degrees require a minimum of 72 credits, please verify you have the appropriate number of credits by verifying what is on your POS is on your WSU transcript.

File an application for doctoral degree and pay your graduation fee.

You should submit the Application for Degree and Graduation through your myWSU account at least one semester before you schedule your final examination. Your final graduation requirements (To-Do List) will show up in your myWSU Task Tile 2-4 weeks after you complete your Application for Degree. Please schedule a precheck of your dissertation formatting with the Office of Graduate Education ( This precheck will aid you in correcting formatting issues with your dissertation before you must submit for the official check in the ETD Administrator/Proquest..

Schedule your final oral exam (D2).

After you complete your dissertation, you are ready to take your final exam (D2). You need to work with your committee to determine when you will take your final exam or conduct your final defense. You must be enrolled for a minimum of two (2) credits of 800 to schedule this exam.

You will need to submit the final examination scheduling form (and a draft of your dissertation) no later than 15 business days prior to the date of the exam, which will then schedule your final examination. You will need to submit an electronic copy of your dissertation to the ETD Administrator/Proquest for your official formatting check ( and to the COE Office of Graduate Education ( for the COE exam announcement.

After you defend: Submit your dissertation to the ETD Administrator/Proquest and your final documents.

To avoid any delays, be sure that your dissertation is formatted in accordance with the Graduate School digital formatting guidelines. Your final corrected dissertation is due five (5) business days after your final exam. Check the Graduate School’s website for other forms that should be submitted at the same time as your dissertation, including a copy of your front matter pages (title, signature & abstract), Hold Harmless/Copyright Acknowledgement form. All your documents are due 5 business days after your final exam.  In addition, all doctoral students must complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates and email the confirmation certificate to the Graduate School (

Attending Commencement and Regalia information.

Register to Walk and ordering commencement Regalia. Check the appropriate term you will be walking.

Update your mailing address.

Diplomas are mailed approximately eight-ten weeks after commencement. If you move during that time, be sure to update your new mailing address in myWSU.

If you have any questions please contact the College of Education Office of Graduate Studies at or 335.7016/335-9195