Introduction

Welcome! This handbook serves as a guide for new and current master’s and Ph.D. students in the UW-Madison Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Students in the Master’s of Science for Teaching / Secondary Teaching & ESL Certification program should contact Joey Lubasi for their handbook. Alongside the Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures, this departmental handbook will help you navigate your progression through your graduate program. All policies and procedures are subject to change and may be supplemented by recommendations from your faculty advisor. You are responsible for following all of the guidelines, policies, and procedures outlined by the Graduate School, the Graduate Program Committee (“GPC”) of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction (“C&I”), and your faculty advisor.

Should you have questions about any of these requirements, please do not hesitate to ask. If you are unsure of whom to approach with your questions, please contact the C&I Graduate Program Coordinator, Thomas Tegart (TEB Room 210-C, tstegart@wisc.edu, 608-263-7466).

As revisions to C&I policies and procedures go into effect, their timing and nature will be noted here.

  • Updated 1/18/2019 to add in clarity regarding credit/no credit classes – TT

Table of contents

 

 

Who does what?

Faculty advisor

Your faculty advisor is a C&I professor who guides your course of study, intellectual engagement in your area of study, and professional development. Through meetings and other communications with your advisor, you should gain a better understanding of your academic and professional goals and expectations, as well as possible paths to take in order to achieve those goals and meet those expectations. Some examples of items to discuss with your advisor include:

  • What courses should I take, and when?
  • What skills should I be developing, and how?
  • What is the next step for my intellectual development?
  • How should I prepare for my master’s examination or Ph.D. preliminary examination?
  • How do I select committee members?
  • When and how should I be conducting research?
  • How do I build my intellectual network?
  • How can I make myself a competitive candidate for my desired future job?

Advisors are assigned upon admission, with the understanding that some students may want to change advisors during the course of study in rare cases (see “Change of advisor” below). Occasionally, a pair of advisors work together as “co-advisors” for a student.

Advisee’s role

As an advisee, you are responsible for checking in with your advisor on a regular basis, familiarizing yourself with all academic policies and procedures and following them accordingly, registering yourself for classes, seeking assistance when needed, and maintaining satisfactory academic progress toward the degree. Since each advisor-advisee relationship is unique, you should ask your advisor for clarification of roles and expectations as needed.

Change of advisor

As you progress through your graduate studies, you may find that your current advisor is no longer the best person to guide you in your chosen area of research. If this is the case, you may seek out a new advisor within the department. You may wish to begin your search for a new advisor by gathering information from courses, faculty seminars and talks, the C&I website, and faculty publications in order to determine which faculty member has the expertise and research interests that best match your own. Once you have found your new advisor and that person has agreed to take you on as an advisee, you will need to complete the Change of Advisor Agreement form and submit it to the Graduate Program Coordinator for the change to be considered. Your prior advisor’s permission or signature is not required to change advisors, but you will need the signature of your new advisor on the Change of Advisor Agreement. Note that faculty members are not obligated to accept your request to work with them. If your change of advisor involves a change of area of study, you will also need to submit a revised statement of “Reasons for Graduate Study” along with your Change of Advisor Agreement form to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

When a faculty member leaves the department

If your faculty advisor or a C&I committee member leaves UW-Madison permanently (e.g., by retiring or taking a position elsewhere), that person is allowed but not required to continue doing all of the following for a period of one year, per Graduate School policy:

  • Advise master’s and doctoral students
  • Chair master’s and doctoral dissertation committees
  • Serve as a graduate committee member on master’s and doctoral dissertation committees
  • Serve as professor of record for the following courses:
    • C&I 799 (master’s) and 999 (doctoral) independent study
    • C&I 790 (master’s) and 990 (doctoral) thesis/dissertation research

After the end of the one-year period, the permanently departing faculty member may no longer serve as your sole advisor or as a graduate faculty committee member. However, they may:

  • Co-advise you and co-chair your master’s or dissertation committee along with an active C&I faculty member (Note: You must enroll in 790, 799, 990, or 999 with the active faculty member)
  • Serve as a non-graduate faculty committee member (i.e., an additional committee member beyond the required minimum number of graduate faculty members)
  • Serve in no further capacity, at which point it is your responsibility to find a new advisor or co-advisor as quickly as possible, following the change of advisor procedure outlined above.

Students whose advisor has left the department and is no longer willing or able to serve in that capacity must complete and submit a Change of Advisor Agreement to the Graduate Program Coordinator before the start of the next term. If you are a dissertator, this needs to be completed as soon as it becomes clear that your current advisor is no longer willing or eligible to serve in an advising capacity (e.g., at the end of their one year post-departure work with you) in order for you to maintain enrollment. See the enrollment requirement for dissertators section for more information on the consequences of not enrolling on time.

Graduate Program Coordinator

Thomas Tegart, Room 210-C, tstegart@wisc.edu, 608-263-7466 The Graduate Program Coordinator counsels graduate students about the rules and procedures of the C&I master’s and Ph.D. programs, as well as the requirements of the Graduate School; coordinates admissions; processes departmental forms and warrant requests; maintains student records; serves on the Graduate Programs Committee; and circulates departmental information about upcoming events and opportunities for graduate students. The Graduate Program Coordinator is the main day-to-day contact for graduate students and students with questions or concerns not handled by the advisor should start there. Office hours are Monday through Friday 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM.

Graduate Program Director

(As of fall 2018:) Bernadette Baker, Room 464-A, bbaker@education.wisc.edu, 608-263-4657 The Graduate Program Director is a faculty member appointed by the Department Chair to oversee graduate education. The faculty member also chairs the Graduate Program Committee, a group of C&I faculty, staff, and graduate student representatives who meet monthly to discuss all aspects of the graduate programs, set policies and procedures, and review student and faculty requests. The Graduate Program Director writes applications to secure fellowship funds for students in cross-campus competitions, reports to the Graduate School regarding data such as time to completion of degrees, and interfaces with the department, the School of Education and the Graduate School policies. The Director is also the person who can be approached for confidential and difficult issues that a student may not want to share for various reasons with their immediate advisor.

Graduate Program Committee

The Graduate Program Committee (GPC) consists of the Graduate Program Director, the Graduate Program Coordinator, two appointed graduate students and four or more appointed faculty members. The GPC makes decisions on Ph.D. admissions, disburses C&I graduate travel and research funds, votes on issues of policy (such as this handbook), and resolves questions and appeals brought by graduate students to the committee.

GPC Graduate Student Representatives

Each year, two current C&I graduate students are appointed as Graduate Student Representatives on the Graduate Program Committee (GPC). These students bring a graduate student perspective to the deliberations of the GPC and vote on new departmental policies and procedures. They also prepare the Annual C&I Graduate Student Survey – a very important tool for gathering feedback from current C&I students about their experiences in the department.

Department Chair

(As of fall 2018:) John Rudolph, Room 226-D, john.rudolph@wisc.edu The Department Chair is a temporary position in C&I, usually for a three-year term. The Chair’s duties relating to graduate students consists of appointing faculty members to the GPC, signing certain forms and grade change requests, and working with the Graduate Program Director to resolve issues that are beyond the purview of the GPC.

Department Manager

Lisa Sigurslid, Room 210-E, lsigurslid@wisc.edu, 608-263-4602 The Department Manager handles the administration of our department’s human resources, including teaching and project/program assistantship (TA/PA) appointments. Students with questions about health insurance, tuition remission, reimbursements, payroll or other HR (human resources) questions should contact the Department Manager before contacting the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Administrative Assistants

The department has several administrative assistants working to support the front desk, the graduate programs, our human resources functions, and each area of study.

The Graduate School

The UW-Madison Graduate School is the organizational body that oversees general requirements for graduate study across campus, confers your graduate degree, and provides general professional development and supportive services to all graduate students on campus. It is very important for you to become familiar with the Graduate School’s policies, procedures, and programming.

Terms to know

Areas of study

C&I faculty are aligned with areas of study and many faculty work across more than one area. Areas of study are clusters of intellectual activity, through which faculty and students connect to deepen their academic and professional engagement within a subfield of research and teaching. Each graduate student must concentrate in at least one of the department’s areas of study, of which there are five: Curriculum Studies & Global Studies; Digital Media; Disciplinary Studies; Languages & Literacies; and Multicultural Education, Teacher Education, & Childhood Studies.

Warrant

A warrant is a document granted by the Graduate School and signed by your committee. There should be one warrant granted during the master’s (the final degree warrant), and two warrants granted during the Ph.D. (one for preliminary exams, one for the final oral defense). This warrant is the Graduate School’s acknowledgement of your program’s recommendation that you be admitted to doctoral candidacy (in the case of a preliminary examination warrant) or be granted a degree (master’s or doctoral), and serves as the Graduate School’s notification that a student has met both the Graduate School and the program requirements. In C&I, the Graduate Program Coordinator is responsible for obtaining the warrant from the Graduate School after you have turned in your warrant request paperwork. Note that the paperwork itself is not your warrant. Rather, it is the start of your request to have the Graduate Program Coordinator apply for a warrant from the Graduate School for your particular situation. Warrants are signed by your respective committees after a successful defense or passing of an exam.

Joint, dual, and double degrees

A joint degree consists of one graduate degree with two programs. A student completing a joint degree writes one thesis or dissertation and receives one diploma. Students can earn a joint master’s or a joint doctoral degree. A student in a joint degree (e.g., Ph.D. in C&I and in Educational Policy Studies) typically has a co-advisor from each program. The student must meet the requirements for each program, which have to be discussed in advance with advisors. In the case of the doctoral degree, for example, it will be necessary for the student to ask what the preliminary exam requirements of the two different departments are and to have co-advisors agree on how different traditions and expectations for an acceptable preliminary exam shall be met. A dual degree is two degrees, one of which is granted in a graduate program, and the other in a professional school (e.g., MD, JD, DVM, DPharm, MPH). Double degrees are two same-level (master’s or doctoral) degrees from two separate graduate programs. Students completing a double degree earn two degrees (two programs), and receive two diplomas. Double degree candidates have two advisors and two separate committees, and they complete two theses (master’s) or dissertations (doctoral). If you wish to obtain any one of these special degrees, you should notify the Graduate Program Coordinator and speak with your advisor. If you are in the process of obtaining one of these degrees, please remind the Graduate Program Coordinator of this status when handing in paperwork or asking questions.

General Rules for Master's & Ph.D. Students

Credit levels & minimums set by the Graduate School

During your time in your graduate program, you will need to abide by several sets of rules regarding the minimum number, type, and timing of credits you should take. These are summarized below.

Graduate course requirement

Graduate students must take graduate-level credits to fulfill their master’s and Ph.D. requirements. No undergraduate classes will count toward your master’s or Ph.D. degree while at UW-Madison, except those taken to eliminate deficiency requirements. All courses at UW-Madison numbered at 700 or above carry graduate credit. For courses below 700, the course must be marked in the Course Guide with a “G50%” indicator for it to count toward your graduate degree requirements. When in doubt about whether or not a particular course will count for graduate program credit, check with the Graduate Program Coordinator before registering for classes. Very rarely, certain minors will include undergraduate classes not offered at the graduate level. If you suspect this is the case for your minor, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Courses in-residence rule

Graduate students are required to take a certain number of their credits from courses at the UW-Madison campus, or in “residence”: at least 21 residence credits for master’s students and at least 36 residence credits for doctoral students. Course credits are not considered in residence when they are taken at another campus. Note: C&I’s minimum residency requirement for master’s students is higher than (and therefore supersedes) the Graduate School’s 16 credit residency requirement.

Typical enrollment

Graduate students in C&I typically enroll in 8-12 credits, most frequently 9 total credits, each semester in the academic year (i.e., during the fall and spring semesters). Students may not take more than 12 credits without the written approval of their advisor and notice to the Graduate Program Coordinator. During the 8-week summer session, when enrollment is optional, graduate students typically take 4-12 credits when electing to complete summer study. Should you need to maintain part-time enrollment, please consult your advisor and the Graduate Program Coordinator to discuss a plan that works for your circumstances and that meets the Graduate School requirements.

Minimum enrollment

Each semester in the academic year, you must register for a minimum number of credits. If you are a master’s student or doctoral student who is not yet a dissertator, you must be enrolled in at least 2 graded* credits per semester. To be considered a full-time student, you must be registered for at least 8 graded* credits per semester, up to a maximum of 15 graded* credits. You must obtain written permission from your C&I advisor to exceed 12 credits per semester during the academic year. Summer course enrollment is optional, unless you are planning to defend your master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. Students must be enrolled in the semester they wish to graduate/defend. Ph.D. students do not have to be enrolled during the summer to take their preliminary exams. *Graded credits are awarded for classes in which you receive a letter grade (A, AB/, C, etc.; S, U also count). Non-graded credits are awarded when you take a class under the pass/fail option or as credit/no credit. The Graduate School maintains a comprehensive overview of the minimum enrollment requirements for different kinds of students. While we will summarize some key aspects of these requirements here, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the full breadth of these requirements in their most current form, for which you are responsible: grad.wisc.edu/documents/enrollment-requirements/

Full-time rule for Ph.D. students

All C&I doctoral students must spend at least two semesters enrolled in full-time study (i.e., enrolled in at least 8 credits per semester), preferably within the same academic year.

Dissertator enrollment requirement

Dissertators must enroll in 3, and only 3, credits for each semester in the academic year. Additionally, dissertators are not allowed to audit classes. The consequences for not maintaining enrollment as a dissertator are quite severe, so please ensure you remain enrolled once you have achieved dissertator status.

Use of university facilities enrollment rule

Every student who uses university facilities or confers with faculty on a regular and continuing basis must register for a minimum of 2 credits. Dissertators must register for 3 credits, as explained above.

Enrollment requirements for funding received from the Graduate School

Those graduate students who have received funding from the Graduate School, such as in the form of research assistantships, fellowships, or scholarships, must maintain enrollment in a full academic load (i.e., a minimum of 8 credits per academic-year semester, or 3 credits if you are a dissertator). Certain fellowships may have additional requirements. Please contact the Graduate School if you have questions.

Enrollment requirements for C&I graduate assistants (TA/PA)

Teaching and project/program assistants who are employed by C&I must maintain enrollment in a full academic load during the semester in which they are employed (i.e., a minimum of 8 credits per academic-year semester, 4 credits for summer, or 3 credits if you are a dissertator). Ph.D. students who have completed at least 30 credits of their coursework and who will be taking preliminary exams while a TA/PA can be registered for 6 credits during the fall or spring semesters. All dissertator TAs/PAs must enroll in 3 graded credits in each academic-year semester. C&I students employed as TAs/PAs by departments other than C&I should contact that department for their minimum enrollment requirements.

Enrollment requirements for research assistants (RA)

Research assistants (RAs) have a different set of minimum enrollment requirements; detailed information can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

Minimal satisfactory progress

All masters & Ph.D. students are required to meet the minimum criteria for satisfactory progress outlined below. If you do not meet one or more of the criteria, you may be informed of your unsatisfactory progress by the department and have your enrollment terminated. Any student whose progress has been declared unsatisfactory can appeal to the Graduate Program Committee for reconsideration of their status.

  • Have an advisor. You must have an advisor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction who approves your studies and degree objectives. See “Faculty advisor” section above for more information on the role of the advisor, as well as how to change advisors if needed.
  • Maintain a 3.25 overall GPA. You must maintain an overall/cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 in graduate courses completed at UW-Madison for credit toward the graduate degree. If your overall GPA falls below 3.25, you will have the next term in which you are enrolled to raise the average to the minimum satisfactory level. If you do not succeed in doing so, your progress will be considered unsatisfactory. Note: Grades of “P” or “S” will be equivalent to a “B” for this GPA calculation.
  • Clear incomplete grades in a timely manner. The Graduate School considers a student to be making unsatisfactory progress whenever an incomplete has not been removed by the end of the next academic-year semester during which the student enrolls. As a C&I graduate student, if you have 6 or more credits of incomplete that have not been removed within this time frame, the department will block your future enrollment by placing a hold on your registration. This departmental hold will be lifted when all of your incompletes have been removed. Exceptions require a written and date-specific plan for completion from you, a written appeal from your advisor, and approval by the C&I Graduate Program Director.
  • Finish your degree or complete the requirements within the time limits as noted within each degree program (see “Time limits” sections below).
  • If you are an international student required to take ESL classes by the UW-Madison ESL program, then you must enroll in those classes to be considered by the department to be making minimal satisfactory progress.

Information pertaining to international students

International students are served on campus by the Office of International Student Services (ISS). ISS should be your first point of contact for questions regarding your visa status, enrollment requirements, health insurance requirements, employment, and travel. ISS can also connect you with resources specifically designed to help international students during their career at UW-Madison. Points for international students to keep in mind:

  • International status usually requires full time enrollment. Check with ISS to see if summer enrollment is required. International students also have special rules for online courses.
  • The dates you take your master’s exam or defend your dissertation and deposit are very important, and can affect your employment and expected exit date from the U.S.A. Please contact ISS to discuss your dates and the consequences. Then, please notify the Graduate Program Coordinator of your expected exit date to prevent your degree being deposited before you had planned (Note: This pertains to master’s students, as Ph.D. students control their deposit date).
  • The SPEAK Test: UW System policy requires non-native English speakers to demonstrate proficiency in spoken English before they are assigned classroom duties as teaching assistants. If you are a non-native English speaker who desires to be hired as a TA, you should contact the C&I Graduate Program Coordinator to schedule your SPEAK test. The test is free and can be done before classes begin for students who have been newly admitted. You can find more information about the test, test dates and exemptions on the SPEAK test website.

Deficiencies

Students who do not have a sufficient background in professional education coursework prior to admission are “admitted with deficiencies.” Students admitted with deficiencies are required to take additional courses foundational to the discipline of education while a UW-Madison graduate student. Should this apply to you, your admissions letter will notify you of your deficiency status and list the number of credits you will be required to take in addition to the standard program requirements. The specific courses you should take to remove the deficiency must be chosen in consultation with and approved by your faculty advisor, and each of these courses must be taken for a letter grade (i.e., not pass/fail). The required courses must be taught in the UW-Madison School of Education. Workshop credits do not count, and no more than 3 independent study/independent research credits may be counted toward meeting deficiencies. These courses may be taken at the same time as your regular graduate courses. However, they cannot be used to fulfill any of the credit requirements of the master’s or Ph.D. programs. Additionally, these courses should be taken in the first year of your program. No later than the end of your third academic-year semester of graduate study, you will need to submit a completed and signed Completion of Deficiencies Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator. The amount of deficiency credits you are required to take is determined at admission. If you believe the amount stated on your admissions letter should be modified, you can appeal to the Graduate Program Committee for a readjustment of your deficiency credits.

Leave of absence & re-admission

Any student who fails to enroll for a fall or spring semester is no longer considered a student by the Graduate School and will have to reapply for admission and pay a new application fee. If you are planning to take a leave of absence for any reason, you should contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for the rules and costs associated with re-admission. Dissertators are highly encouraged to never take a leave of absence as the consequences are severe. If you are a dissertator considering a leave of absence, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator before taking any action. Master’s degree students who have been absent for 5 or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Doctoral degree students who have been absent for 10 or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Please also see the section on time limits for your respective degree to know how long you have to complete your degree, as time limits continue running even during absences. Students applying for re-admission should visit the C&I Graduate Program Admissions page for more information or contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Transfer

Students wishing to transfer to C&I from another UW-Madison department should visit the C&I Graduate Program Admissions page for more information or contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Signing of paperwork

C&I will allow faculty members to sign off on your paperwork via email when an in-person signature is not possible or convenient. Should a faculty member be willing to submit an electronic signature for one of your forms, please have that member email their consent for signature to both you and the Graduate Program Coordinator. In that email, the faculty member should clearly state what the signature is approving.

Graduate Degree Program Overviews

Graduate study in C&I is distinguished from undergraduate study by its depth of subject matter and its more intense consideration of research and professional issues. C&I offers two kinds of graduate degree programs: the Master’s of Science (M.S.) and the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Each is overviewed below.

Master’s of Science in Curriculum & Instruction (M.S.)

At this level, graduate study focuses on your more immediate goals of professional growth and development. In certain specialties, it may lead to advanced certification. This degree also begins your training for educational research. Master’s level study in C&I has following knowledge and skills goals:

  • BREADTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Examples of competencies developed may include demonstrating awareness of historical and intellectual context, educational practices, critical research paradigms within the broader field of Curriculum & Instruction, and theories and approaches from other fields as appropriate for their research.
  • DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Examples of competencies developed may include demonstrating mastery of concepts, theories, and research, and understanding of relevant educational practices and contexts, sufficient to pose questions that extend the current boundaries of knowledge within their chosen subfield of Curriculum & Instruction.

Note: The Master’s of Science for Teaching / Secondary Teaching & ESL Certification is a separate master’s program not covered by this handbook. Please contact Joey Lubasi for information on this program.

Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction (Ph.D.)

Graduate study beyond the master’s degree is primarily research-oriented. As a research degree, the Ph.D. is never awarded solely as a result of any prescribed period of study or the completion of a prescribed program of course work. It is granted only upon evidence of general proficiency, distinctive attainment in a special field, and a demonstrated ability for independent investigation as reflected in a dissertation that presents original research or creative scholarship with a high degree of literary skill. Doctoral study in C&I has the following knowledge and skills goals:

  • BREADTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Examples of competencies developed may include demonstrating awareness of historical and intellectual context, educational practices, critical research paradigms within the broader field of Curriculum & Instruction, and theories and approaches from other fields as appropriate for their research.
  • DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE: Examples of competencies developed may include demonstrating mastery of concepts, theories, and research, and understanding of relevant educational practices and contexts, sufficient to pose questions that extend the current boundaries of knowledge within their chosen subfield of Curriculum & Instruction.
  • RESEARCH APPROACHES AND EPISTEMOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS: Examples of competencies developed may include articulating research problems that build on history, theory, research, and practice within their subfield of Curriculum & Instruction; choosing research methods appropriate to those problems and demonstrating understanding of epistemological foundations underlying those methods.

Master's Degree Program Requirements

Course requirements

Minimum of 30 graduate credits

You are required to take a minimum of 30 total graduate credits. Research/thesis credits (C&I 790), pass/fail classes, credit/no credit, and credits earned to remove deficiencies (if applicable) do not count toward these 30 total graduate credits.

Minimum of 15 C&I credits

Of those 30 minimum graduate credits, at least 15 credits must be coursework from the UW-Madison Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Independent study (C&I 799), master’s project/thesis (C&I 790), and all pass/fail and credit/no credit coursework does not count toward these 15 credits. These credits must be taken after admission (with the exception of any special student credits transferred in – see below) and cannot be brought in from another institution.

Prior graduate coursework accepted for program credit

Graduate-level coursework taken after you have completed an undergraduate degree and prior to admission to the C&I master’s program may be counted toward your master’s degree (known as “accepted for program credit”) in certain cases. Only graduate-level courses other than independent reading/study may be counted for this purpose, and the specific credits in question must be recommended to be considered for transfer by your advisor. Three types of credits are eligible to be accepted: special student credits, outside credits, and credits from a UW-Madison degree. While students can bring in credits from multiple sources, no more than a total of 9 total credits are allowed to be accepted for program credit from all sources combined.

Special student credits: Graduate coursework at UW-Madison without enrollment in a degree program

Graduate coursework may be undertaken in specific circumstances under the code “special student,” which is a unique kind of enrollment. A special student is defined as someone who takes a graduate class without being admitted to a specific program. Examples of special students may include a practicing teacher who has returned for brief professional development, or an international student who is considering which professor to work with prior to applying to a degree program. Up to 9 credits taken at UW-Madison as a special student may be accepted for program credit, upon review and approval. Courses taken in C&I as a special student may count toward the 15 credit C&I credit requirement, while courses taken outside of C&I may count toward the 30 credit requirement (upon acquiring the approvals noted below). Courses more than 5 years old will not be accepted for program credit. If these credits are approved, upon being converted to graduate credit, you will have to pay the difference in tuition (i.e., graduate credits cost more than special student credits). The difference in tuition cost must be paid before they will be accepted.

Outside credits from non-completed graduate degrees at another institution

Up to 9 credits taken at another institution that did not result in a degree or certificate may be accepted for program credit upon review and approval.

Outside credits from multiple graduate degrees

Should you have more than one completed graduate degree, you may apply to have up to 9 credits from your previous degrees accepted for program credit upon review and approval.

Credits from a UW-Madison degree (finished & unfinished)

If you have completed another degree at UW-Madison, credits from that degree cannot be counted. If you started but did not complete a graduate degree at UW-Madison, up to 9 credits from that graduate level work at this campus may be accepted for program credit upon review and approval.

Not accepted: Outside credits from a single previous graduate degree

No credits used to fulfill the requirements of a single previous graduate degree or certificate will be accepted for program credit. For example, graduate credits used to fulfill the requirements of a single master’s degree at another institution will not be accepted for program credit. This is called the “no double-dipping rule.”

Procedure for requesting acceptance of prior credits

To initiate a request for acceptance of previous credits, you should first discuss this with your advisor. If your advisor approves of the previously-taken courses as counting for your current master’s degree and has verified that the courses are of graduate-level, your advisor should then send a request to the Graduate Program Coordinator. This request should take the form of a letter or email from your advisor addressed to the Graduate Program Coordinator, and include the following:

  • List of the classes to be counted, and a description of how each class in question relates to your C&I master’s study and/or fulfill an area of study requirement. Classes that do not directly support your current plan of study will not be approved.
  • Transcript with the course(s) listed.
  • Syllabus from each course.

After the request has been received, the Graduate Program Director will have the final decision on whether the credits will be counted. Please keep in mind that the department does not accept credits merely to shorten your degree time or because you have taken previous graduate credits. The credits must relate to education or your area of study and the letter, syllabi, and transcript required above must support this.

Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction: C&I 712 (optional)

Master’s students are encouraged, but not required, to enroll in a 3-credit introductory course (C&I 712) during their first or second semester of master’s level study in the department.

How to plan your remaining course credits

The remainder of your required credits should be planned in consultation with your faculty advisor. Each student’s academic program will be tailored to their individual needs and interests by the faculty advisor.

Typical timeline for a full-time master’s student

      Should you need to maintain part-time enrollment, please consult your advisor and the Graduate Program Coordinator to discuss a plan that works for your circumstances and that meets the Graduate School requirements.

Master’s project /thesis

The rich environment of research and scholarly writing within the department provides all students with opportunities to come in contact with substantive issues that are appropriate for investigation. Therefore, to be awarded a master’s degree from C&I, you will need to identify, analyze, appraise, synthesize, and report a problem of scholarly significance through your master’s project.   Typically, students complete their master’s project through preparing a master’s paper, thesis, or substantial study project. While this project is usually completed under the supervision of your advisor, it may be completed under the supervision of another professor with the approval of your advisor. As this process is unique to you and your supervising professor’s interests, further guidance and parameters for the master’s project will be clarified by your supervising professor. Your supervising professor may require that you submit a bound copy of your final work to them prior to certifying the completion of your project.

Master’s examination

Once you have completed your thesis or project, you will be required to take a master’s examination to complete your degree. You are eligible to take the master’s examination when:

  1. All incomplete grades (if applicable) have been removed from your record.
  2. All deficiencies (if applicable) have been satisfied and removed from your record.
  3. You have completed all course and program requirements by the end of the semester or summer session in which the examination will be taken.
  4. At least 3 weeks prior to the examination date, you have submitted the following completed items to the Graduate Program Coordinator:
  • Application for the Master’s Examination (LINK FORTHCOMING)
  • Master’s Degree Warrant Request Form (LINK FORTHCOMING)

You have three options for the form of your master’s examination ‒ please consult your advisor to determine which option is best for you:

  • 1.5 – 2 hour oral exam. This option is available to students whose master’s project/thesis is written and has been read and approved by three members of the examination committee. This is the most frequently selected option.
  • 4 hour written exam. Examination questions will be prepared by your master’s committee.
  • 1 week take-home exam. Examination questions will be prepared by your master’s committee.

This examination will be evaluated on the criteria in the learning goals for the master’s outlined above. Should you fail your master’s examination (i.e., not receive 2 or more passing ratings), you may have one additional opportunity to pass it. Before retaking the exam, your committee may require you to complete additional credits in courses to be determined by your advisor. You may be writing your master’s thesis while finishing up your last semester of coursework required for the master’s degree. Should you choose to do so, please note that you must still meet the required GPA and grade requirements for that semester. Failure to do so will result in your degree being put on hold until you have satisfactorily completed all courses.

Master’s committee

Your committee will review your master’s examination and provide valuable feedback to you. It should be composed of the following:

  • At least 3 members.
  • All members must have a Ph.D. or MFA.
  • The chair and any co-chairs must be from C&I. The chair is a specialist in your area of study, and frequently is your faculty advisor.
  • At least 2 members must be from C&I (graduate faculty or academic staff).
  • At least 2 members must be UW-Madison graduate faculty.
  • No more than 1 academic staff member.

Students desiring to have a non-UW Madison employee serve on their committee must get approval of the Graduate Program Director if that person is not a faculty member of another institution. To begin the process of selecting committee members, you should consult your advisor (or committee chair, if it is not your advisor) and discuss who might best support your academic goals. All committee members must be approved by your advisor. Some chairs prefer to talk to their colleagues before the student invites them to join their committee, while others encourage students to contact potential agreed-upon members to request participation. If you have a question about your committee composition meeting the rules above, please check with the Graduate Program Coordinator before your paperwork is due.

Additional roles of the committee chair

In addition to guiding your committee member selection, the chair will:

  • In the case of a written examination, prepare, with the assistance of other committee members, the examination questions and submit these questions to the Graduate Program Coordinator well in advance of the scheduled examination date.
  • In the case of an oral examination, request at least two other committee members to fill out master’s examination evaluation sheets at the end of the oral examination; also, obtain signatures on the master’s examination warrant from all committee members who were involved in the oral examination.
  • Provide you with a summary of the evaluations of your examination and return the evaluation sheets to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • Should your examination not result in at least two of your committee members rating it as “pass,” convene the committee and arrive at a decision, ask a 4th reader to rate the examination, or schedule an additional oral examination with you.

Degree & paperwork deadlines

Each semester, including the summer session, the Graduate School sets deadlines that dictate when your paperwork must be received in order to receive a degree within that semester. Each kind of deadline is described below. You can find all dates for deadlines on the Graduate School’s Degree Deadlines page.

Warrant request deadline

This is the last day for the Graduate Program Coordinator to request a warrant for you. You should have turned in all your paperwork before this date or spoken to the Graduate Program Coordinator about your graduation plans before this date. If this date has passed without doing either of those two things, your opportunity to receive a degree in that semester has passed.

Master’s degree deadline

You must defend your thesis or have taken and passed your master’s examination by this date to receive your degree that semester. Please look up this date before scheduling your defense and check with the Graduate Program Coordinator if your defense will occur close to this date.

Window period

A window period exists for those students who fail to meet the Degree Deadline (note that there is a beginning date and an end date listed on the degree deadlines page). If you successfully defend or pass your exam during the window period, you will receive your degree in the next term, but you will not have to pay tuition for the next term. If you miss the window period, you will have to register for classes again in the next term and will only receive your degree at the end of that term. Any student who is ready to complete the degree requirements is welcome to call or stop by the Graduate Program Coordinator’s office for an explanation of terms or for help regarding scheduling their master’s defense.

Brief abstract & curriculum vita submission

Once you pass your master’s exam, please email a copy of your Curriculum Vita and a Brief Abstract to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Time limits

You must complete all requirements for your master’s degree within 8 years of your graduate admissions date. If you fail to do so, you may not take the master’s examination until your program of study has been reviewed by your advisor and the C&I Graduate Program Committee. This review could result in a termination of your program enrollment for failure to make satisfactory progress, or it could result in a stipulation that your program of study be updated with additional courses.

Checklist for the master’s degree

  • Complete your required coursework:
    • At least 30 total graduate credits, excluding C&I 790 (Master’s project/thesis), all pass/fail classes, and any deficiency coursework (if applicable).
    • At least 15 graduate credits from C&I courses, excluding C&I 799 (Independent study), C&I 790 (Master’s project/thesis), and all pass/fail classes.
  • In consultation with your advisor, assemble your master’s committee.
  • Complete your master’s project/thesis.
  • Make sure you are registered for at least 2 credits in the semester in which you want to graduate.
  • Schedule an appointment to speak with the Graduate Program Coordinator about paperwork requirements and degree deadlines.
  • At least 3 weeks before your master’s examination date, complete and submit the paperwork packet for the master’s examination to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • Take and pass the master’s examination.
  • Submit a Brief Abstract of your master’s project/thesis and a copy of your CV to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Ph.D. Degree Program Requirements

Course requirements

Minimum of 51 total graduate credits

You are required to take a minimum of 51 total graduate credits to earn your Ph.D. degree. Credits earned to remove deficiencies (if applicable) do not count toward the 51 credit minimum.

Minimum of 36 fresh credits

Of those 51 minimum graduate credits, 36 of them must “fresh.” This means these credits must be taken after admission and cannot be brought in from another institution. Pass/fail and credit/ no credit classes do not count towards this total. If you are a student who has transferred to C&I from another department or took classes as a special student, please see the section on special rules for transfer & special students below.

Minimum of 18 C&I credits

Of those 36 fresh graduate credits, at least 18 should be from UW-Madison’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Independent study (C&I 999) and all pass/fail and credit/no credit coursework does not count toward these credits. For those students who completed their master’s degree in our department, only 12 credits are required to be from C&I. The remainder of the 36 fresh credits can be from other departments on campus.

Rules for special cases

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program without a master’s degree

Ph.D. students admitted to the program without a master’s degree must take 30 credits of coursework in addition to the 36 fresh credits (for a total of 66 credits). Of that coursework:

  • At least 27 of the 66 total credits must be taken in C&I (i.e., 15 required C&I credits for the master’s + 12 required C&I credits for the Ph.D. w/ C&I master’s = 27 total required C&I credits). Independent study (C&I 999) and all pass/fail and credit/no credit coursework do not count toward this total.
  • The remaining 39 credits (to reach a total of 66 credits) must be taken on the UW-Madison campus after admission (with the exception of credits earned as a “special student” at UW-Madison – see below). These credits cannot be brought in from another institution. Pass/fail credits and credit/no credit classes do not count toward this total. If you are a student who has transferred to C&I from another department, please see the section on special rules for transfer students below.
  • If a student is admitted to the C&I master’s program and is then later admitted to the C&I Ph.D. program, all credits taken as a C&I graduate student will transfer over to apply toward the Ph.D.

Note: Students admitted to the Ph.D. without a master’s degree may choose to obtain a master’s degree after completing 30 credits and a master’s thesis, provided those 30 credits meet the requirements of a master’s degree as noted in the master’s degree section of this handbook.

Transfer students from another UW-Madison department

Ph.D. students who have been admitted to C&I after transferring from another UW-Madison department can count any C&I credits they took before admission to C&I toward the 18 C&I credit requirement. Any other credits taken as a student in another department may count toward the 36 fresh credits if they relate to your area of study and with the consent of your advisor and Graduate Program Director. All graduate credits will count toward the 51 credit minimum, with the exception of deficiency credits (when applicable).

Prior graduate coursework accepted for program credit

Graduate-level coursework taken after you have completed an undergraduate degree and prior to admission to the Ph.D. degree may be counted toward your Ph.D. degree (known as “accepted for program credit”) in certain cases. Only graduate-level courses other than independent reading/study may be counted for this purpose, and the specific credits in question must be recommended to be considered for transfer by your advisor. Three types of credits are eligible to be accepted: special student credits, outside credits, and credits from a UW-Madison degree. While students can bring in credits from multiple sources, no more than a total of 9 credits are allowed to be accepted for program credit from all sources combined (this applies to all Ph.D. students, including those admitted without a master’s degree).

Special student credits: Graduate coursework at UW-Madison without enrollment in degree program

Graduate coursework may be undertaken in specific circumstances under the code “special student,” which is a unique kind of enrollment. A special student is defined as someone who takes a graduate class without being admitted to a specific program. Examples of special students may include a practicing teacher who has returned for brief professional development, or an international student who is considering which professor to work with prior to applying to a degree program. Up to 9 credits taken at UW-Madison as a special student may be accepted for program credit, upon review and approval. Courses taken in C&I as a special student may be counted toward the 18 credit C&I credit requirement, while courses taken outside of C&I may be counted toward the 36 credit requirement (upon acquiring the approvals noted below). Courses more than 5 years old will not be accepted for program credit. If these credits are approved, upon being converted to graduate credit, you will have to pay the difference in tuition (i.e., graduate credits cost more than special student credits). The difference in tuition cost must be paid before they will be accepted.

Outside credits from non-completed graduate degrees at another institution

Up to 9 credits taken at another institution that did not result in a degree or certificate may be accepted toward the 51 credit requirement upon review and approval.

Outside credits from multiple graduate degrees

Should you have more than one completed graduate degree, you may apply to have up to 9 credits from your previous degrees considered for acceptance toward the 51 credit requirement.

Credits from a UW-Madison degree (finished & unfinished)

If you have completed another degree at UW-Madison, credits from that degree cannot be counted. If you started but did not complete a graduate degree at UW-Madison, up to 9 credits from that graduate level work at this campus may be considered for acceptance toward the 51 credit requirement.

Not accepted: Outside credits from a single previous graduate degree

No credits used to fulfill the requirements of a single previous graduate degree or certificate will be accepted for program credit. For example, graduate credits used to fulfill the requirements of a master’s degree at another institution will not be accepted for program credit. This is called the “no double-dipping rule.”

Procedure for requesting acceptance of prior credits

To initiate a request for acceptance of previous credits, you should first discuss this with your advisor. If your advisor approves of the previously-taken courses as counting for your current Ph.D. degree and has verified that the courses are of graduate-level, your advisor should then send a request to the Graduate Program Coordinator. This request should take the form of a letter or email from your advisor addressed to the Graduate Program Coordinator, and include the following:

  • List of the classes to be counted, and a description of how each class in question relates to your Ph.D. studies and/or fulfill an area of study requirement. Classes that do not directly support your current plan of study will not be approved.
  • Transcript with the course(s) listed.
  • Syllabus from each course.

After the request has been received, the Graduate Program Director will have the final decision on whether the credits will be counted. Please keep in mind that the department does not accept credits merely to shorten your degree time or because you have taken previous graduate credits. The credits must relate to education or your area of study and the letter, syllabi, and transcript required above must support this.

Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction: C&I 712 (required)

You are required to enroll in a 3-credit introductory course (C&I 712) during your first or second semester of doctoral-level study in the department. Students with a Master’s in C&I are exempt from this requirement.

Research methodology requirement (3 courses)

You are required to enroll in at least 3 research methods courses: 2 courses from one research tradition and 1 from another research tradition. What counts as a “research methods course” and as a “tradition” is unique to each area of study, so your advisor will determine what 3 courses will count for this requirement.

Ph.D. minor

You are required to complete a doctoral minor that is designed to broaden your graduate study to include a coherent body of work outside of C&I. There are two ways to meet this requirement:

Option A: External minor / Named minor (e.g., “French”)

Requires a minimum of 9 credits in graduate courses within a single department or program outside of C&I.* Most departments require more than the Graduate School’s 9-credit minimum for satisfying the Option A minor in their department. With the advice of a Ph.D. minor advisor, you will develop a program of courses that will satisfy the departmental minor and list them on the Ph.D. Minor Agreement Form. This completed form must be signed by your C&I faculty advisor and your Ph.D. minor advisor, and then submitted to the C&I Graduate Program Coordinator.

*Courses in C&I may not count toward a minor unless they are part of the Option A “Doctoral Minor in Qualitative Methods in Education.”

Option B: Distributed minor

Requires a minimum of 12 credits in graduate courses from two or more departments. C&I may not be either of those departments. You and your C&I advisor will develop a program of courses for this distributed minor, forming a coherent topic or theme, and detailing all of this on the Ph.D. Minor Agreement Form. If the basis for thematic consistency would not be generally recognizable, you should attach an additional explanation to the form. This form must be signed by your C&I advisor. Introductory courses in professional education, graduate courses taken for initial teacher certification, and independent study/reading courses are not acceptable for the Option B minor. Courses taken five or more years prior to admission to the Ph.D. program require special justification.

How to plan your remaining course credits

The remainder of your required credits should be planned in consultation with your faculty advisor. Each student’s academic program will be tailored to their individual needs and interests by the faculty advisor.

Typical timeline for full-time Ph.D. study

        Should you need to maintain part-time enrollment, please consult your advisor and the Graduate Program Coordinator to discuss a plan that works for your circumstances and that meets the Graduate School requirements.

Admission to candidacy for Ph.D. / dissertator status / A.B.D.

You will be eligible to enter “candidacy” for the Ph.D., also known as “dissertator status” and “all but dissertation” (A.B.D.) upon completing all of the Ph.D. course requirements and passing the preliminary examination. This status provides a significant reduction in tuition and may be required for certain funding opportunities.

Preliminary examination

The preliminary examination provides you with an opportunity to synthesize and apply your learning while preparing for the research you will undertake in your dissertation. It also provides the C&I faculty with evidence that you have reached a highly-advanced level of scholarship and conceptual development in your area of specialization, and that you are ready to begin your own original research.

Content & form

The preliminary examination is not standardized in C&I. Exams take different forms in each area of study that reflect the unique knowledge bases in specialized subfields. Your exam will be tailored to your individual research interests, experience, and preparation by your faculty advisor and preliminary examination committee. It will also reflect the specific requirements determined by your area of study and your faculty advisor. Given this, it is important to discuss the expectations for your preliminary exam with your faculty advisor early in your program so that you may prepare accordingly. There are two forms your preliminary exam may take:

  • An 8-hour “sit down” examination
  • A “take home” examination over a period of time determined by the committee, typically 2 weeks (most frequent option chosen).

The questions you are asked will be written and determined by your committee after consultation with you about your research interests and future directions. The word length or number of pages permitted for responding is set by each advisor. Your faculty advisor may also require an additional oral examination. You will receive feedback, quantitative and qualitative, from your preliminary exam in C&I (see “Evaluation & outcomes” below).

Preliminary examination committee

Your advisor will chair your preliminary examination committee, which will evaluate your performance on the exam. This committee should be composed of the following:

  • At least 3 faculty (including your advisor who is the chair), with a maximum of 5 faculty.
  • At least 2 of the faculty must be from C&I. Your C&I advisor counts as one of the two required C&I faculty. A common option is to have 3 C&I professors grade your preliminary exam and serve on your committee.
  • Additional, non-C&I committee members may be selected from other departments related to your area of study.
  • Note: Academic staff do not serve on preliminary exam committees, but can serve on the committees for the proposal and final oral defense.

To begin the process of selecting committee members, you should consult your advisor and discuss who might best support your academic goals. All committee members must be approved by your advisor. Some advisors prefer to talk to their colleagues before the student invites them to join their committee, while others encourage students to contact potential committee members directly. It is customary for students to discuss with committee members the area(s) to be covered in the examination, such as the kinds of research questions you are going to pursue and the theoretical framework/s and/or methods you will be using. Because this is an examination, it is not permitted for you to know the questions in advance of taking the preliminary examination.

Eligibility

You are eligible to take the preliminary exam when you have:

  1. Completed the following course requirements:
  • Deficiencies have been completed (if applicable)
  • Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction (C&I 712)
  • Research methodology requirement
  • D. minor
  • Minimum of 18 C&I credits, in accordance with rules in “Course requirements” above. Note: You can be in the process of completing the final few credits to satisfy this requirement while taking the preliminary exam. See the Graduate Program Coordinator if you have questions about this.
  • A majority (typically at least 30) of the 36 fresh credits that have been recommended by your advisor (see “Course requirements” above). All 36 credits must be completed by the end of the semester in which your take your preliminary exam.
  • Any specific course requirements outlined by the faculty in your area of study (see your advisor for more information)
  1. Removed all incomplete grades and progress grades.
  2. Submitted the following completed documents to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior to your preliminary examination date:

Scheduling

Provided you have met the above eligibility criteria, your preliminary examination can be scheduled at any time that is mutually agreed upon by you, your faculty advisor, and your committee members. However, if you are taking your exam during the summer session, you can start your exam no later than August 7. It is very important to make sure your paperwork (outlined in eligibility criteria #3 above) is completed and turned in to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior to the start of your preliminary exam, in order to provide enough time for the processing of your preliminary examination warrant from the Graduate School. Without this warrant, you are not allowed to take your exam. Please note that not all faculty are available over the summer months. You should check with your advisor and committee members about summer availability. If taking the exam during the academic year, you should check with your committee ahead of time to make sure they are willing to read and provide feedback on your preliminary exam during the timeframe you plan on taking it. Due to the large number of committees that many faculty serve on, committee members are typically given four weeks to read and provide feedback on the prelim exam. Please plan accordingly to avoid missing deadlines set by the Graduate School. For you to receive the financial advantage of registering with dissertator status during the following semester, your preliminary examination committee must have submitted its passing evaluation of your exam to the Graduate Program Coordinator no later than one week before the start of the following semester. Because committee members may not be able to meet this deadline during breaks between academic terms, if you agree to schedule your exam near the end of a term or between terms, you risk not receiving dissertator status during the upcoming term.

Evaluation & outcomes

Your preliminary examination will be evaluated on the criteria in the learning goals for the Ph.D. outlined above. When your committee members have finished evaluating your preliminary exam, you will receive their feedback in summarized form through your committee’s chair (i.e., your faculty advisor). If your chair is unable or unwilling to provide this feedback, please contact the Graduate Program Director. If you pass your exam, the committee members and the Department Chair will sign your preliminary exam warrant and forward it to the Graduate School to begin the process of conferring your candidacy. You will receive a letter from the Graduate Program Director detailing your new status and an email from the Graduate School with important information about your new dissertation status. If you fail all or part of your preliminary examination, at the discretion of your committee, you may be given a second opportunity, such as the chance to rewrite sections of it or address one of the questions in a more adequate way. The conditions for this opportunity to take the examination again will be determined by the committee and detailed to you and the Graduate Program Coordinator in a written report. You will not have more than two opportunities to pass your preliminary examination, and your enrollment will be terminated if you fail your second attempt.

Dissertator status requirements

Once your dissertator status is in effect, you must remain continuously enrolled in 3 credits per academic-year semester until your dissertation has been completed, defended, and deposited with the Graduate School. The consequences for not maintaining enrollment are quite severe. Please ensure you enroll each semester once you reach dissertation status and contact the Graduate Program Coordinator immediately if you believe you will not be able to enroll. Students with dissertator status are considered to have completed coursework, and except for rare circumstances which their advisor would approve and request an exception from the Graduate Program Committee for, may not take regular classes.

Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation constitutes a substantial part of the work toward a Ph.D. degree. It is a culmination of all other activities during your doctoral study and is the result of your creative efforts under the guidance of a dissertation proposal committee with potential advice from other faculty consultants.

Dissertation proposal committee

The purpose of the dissertation proposal committee is to help you make effective use of resources in C&I and the university while you plan and conduct your research. Your preliminary exam committee members may be carried forward to your proposal committee; however, this is not always the case and is not required. Consult with your advisor as you begin the selection process for your proposal committee. This committee should be composed of the following:

  • At least 3 faculty members, including your faculty advisor who will chair the committee.
  • A majority of members must be from C&I.
  • An optional additional member, beyond the 3 required faculty members, can be an academic staff person, upon approval of your chair.

Proposal

Before you can begin collecting data for your research, you will need to have a completed and approved dissertation proposal submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 1 semester before the semester in which you take your final oral examination, and no later than 2 years after completing your preliminary examination. You should include the C&I proposal cover page with your submission.

Conducting research

If you are conducting human subjects research as part of your dissertation work, you will need to seek approval by the Education Research Institutional Review Board (“IRB”) prior to beginning your data collection. All other research processes are unique to each area of study. Consult your advisor for further guidance.

Preparation

The final draft of your dissertation should follow the formatting specifications provided by the Graduate School. Effective Fall 2017, all dissertations must acknowledge contributions received from other individuals. You should feel free to collaborate as appropriate (with faculty, students, and others) to advance your scholarship, and you should also be prepared to document the nature of that collaboration in order to ensure that the dissertation committee can confidently assign credit for the dissertation to you.

Final oral examination committee

In addition to continuing to support your dissertation work, your final oral examination committee will evaluate your dissertation during your final oral examination (also known as the dissertation defense). Typically, your proposal committee members are carried forward to your final oral examination committee. Consult with your advisor as you begin this selection and finalization process. This committee should be composed of the following:

  • At least 4 members, up to a total of 5. Students wishing to have more than 5 committee members will require approval of the Graduate Program Director (except joint Ph.D. candidates).
  • Every member must have either a Ph.D. or M.F.A.
  • At least 3 members must be from C&I
  • At least 1 member must be from a discipline outside of curriculum & instruction
    • Faculty who have a budgeted appointment in C&I may not serve as the outside member
  • At least 3 members must be UW-Madison graduate faculty
    • Graduate faculty = All university faculty with professional rank in any department with a graduate program authority. This includes professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors, and emeritus faculty who have one year of graduate faculty status.
  • No more than 1 member who is not graduate faculty (e.g., academic staff)
    • Academic staff = Professional and administrative personnel other than faculty with duties and types of appointments that are primarily associated with higher education institutions or their administration. Their principal role is related to research, teaching, outreach, student services, information technology, libraries, communications, clinical/health services, or other responsibilities.
  • Any 3 members can be designated as readers, but at least 2 readers have to be from C&I
    • Reader = a committee member who reads the entire dissertation.

Additional considerations for the committee:

  • In circumstances where no expertise is available from qualified persons on campus, an outside of UW-Madison researcher may be a member of your committee. Any off-campus member must have a Ph.D. or MFA and it is preferable that they are employed at a research institution. Use of such a non-UW member is contingent upon approval of your committee chair.

Please see the Ph.D. Committee Confirmation Form for more details on committee composition. For the final oral examination committee, committee members need to indicate in writing that they have agreed to serve. This usually occurs in an email that they send to you responding to your request for them to join your committee. Note that the Graduate School will also review and need to approve your list of final oral examination committee members. This typically occurs during the processing of your signed final oral examination warrant; if you have questions or concerns about this prior to sitting for your exam, you are encouraged to ask the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Final oral examination

Every candidate for the Ph.D. degree is required to take a final oral examination. You must complete the final oral examination (which includes successfully defending your dissertation) and deposit your dissertation within 5 years of passing your preliminary examination. If you fail to do so, the Graduate School may require that you retake the preliminary examination and be admitted to candidacy a second time. The Graduate School calls this the “five-year rule.” Should you believe you have extenuating circumstances that warrant an extension of this 5-year time limit, you and your advisor will need to provide a persuasive request for an extension to the Graduate School to consider.

Eligibility

You are eligible to sit for the final oral examination when:

  1. The academic term (semester or summer session) in which you passed your preliminary examination has passed.
  2. The academic term (semester or summer session) in which your proposal was approved has passed.
  3. All incomplete grades have been removed from your record.
  4. Three members of your dissertation proposal committee have verified that your dissertation draft is complete enough for you to proceed to the final oral examination, and indicated this by signing the Oral Defense Form [LINK FORTHCOMING]. You need to submit this form to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior to your final oral examination date.
  5. You have submitted a completed Final Oral Examination Committee Approval Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior to your final oral examination date. This form is signed by your advisor and indicates their approval of your committee composition and oral defense schedule.

Scheduling

The time and place of your final oral examination are arranged by your advisor. It may be given at any time during the year, but may only be administered on the UW-Madison campus. If you plan to take your final oral examination during the summer or over winter break, make sure your committee members are willing to read your dissertation and hold a defense then. You must be enrolled for 3 credits in the semester in which you complete your final oral examination. See “Degree & paperwork deadlines” below for further, crucial information about Graduate School deadlines. You must take these deadlines into account when scheduling your final oral exam.

Process, evaluation, & outcomes

Although the oral examination is primarily based upon your dissertation, the committee may ask about your major and minor fields of study. Upon successful completion of your final oral examination, your advisor will notify you and the C&I Graduate Program Coordinator. Additionally, your committee members will sign the final oral examination warrant that you will return to the Graduate School upon depositing your dissertation. It is very common to be asked to make revisions to your dissertation by your final oral examination committee. Should this occur, your warrant will not be signed by your advisor until all revisions are satisfactorily completed. Your advisor will provide you with a list of expected revisions, and will review your revisions upon completion. Once your final revisions are approved, your final oral examination warrant will be signed by your advisor and you may then begin the process of depositing your dissertation with the Graduate School.

Depositing your dissertation with the Graduate School

When you have finished making any necessary revisions to your dissertation and its abstract, you will begin to format your dissertation documents to align with the formatting requirements set by the Graduate School. This, as well as the opportunity to have your dissertation “pre-checked” by the Graduate School before your final deposit, is detailed further on the Graduate School’s webpage for doctoral students. It is highly recommended that students make a pre-check appointment with the Graduate School.

Degree & paperwork deadlines

Each semester, including the summer session, the Graduate School sets deadlines that dictate when your paperwork must be received in order to receive a degree that semester. Each kind of deadline is described below. You can find all dates for deadlines on the Graduate School’s Degree Deadlines page.

Warrant request deadline

This is the last day for the Graduate Program Coordinator to request a warrant for you. You should have turned in all your paperwork before this date or spoken to the Graduate Program Coordinator about your graduation plans before this date. If this date has passed without doing either of those two things, your opportunity to receive a degree in that semester has passed.

Doctoral degree deadline

You must defend your dissertation and electronically deposit by this date to receive your degree that semester. Please look up this date before scheduling your defense and check with the Graduate Program Coordinator if your defense will occur close to this date. This is a hard deadline of 11:55 PM CST, and if you miss it you will not receive a degree in that semester. Keep this in mind if your defense date is close to the deadline, as your committee may require revisions that take time for you to complete and the committee to review. Depositing your dissertation usually takes some time, so do not expect to be able to deposit in less than an hour.

Window period

A window period exists for students who fail to meet the Degree Deadline (note that there is a beginning date and an end date listed on the degree deadlines page). If you successfully defend and deposit during the window period, you will receive your degree in the next term, but you will not have to pay tuition for the next term. If you miss the window period, you will have to register for classes again in the next term and will receive your degree at the end of that term. Any student wishing to complete the degree requirements are welcome to call or stop by the Graduate Program Coordinator’s office for an explanation of terms or for help regarding scheduling their dissertation defense.

Time limits

Preliminary exam

You are expected to pass your preliminary exam within 3 years of being admitted to the Ph.D. program. After 3 years, you will be considered to not be making minimal satisfactory progress and will have to request an extension of time from the Graduate Program Director with written support from your advisor. A student who has not passed the preliminary examination within 5 years will have to apply to the C&I Ph.D. program for readmission.

Dissertation proposal

You must submit a dissertation proposal within 2 years of passing your preliminary exam. After 2 years, you will be considered to not be making minimal satisfactory progress and will have to request an extension of time from the Graduate Program Director with written support from your advisor. You cannot submit your dissertation proposal and graduate in the same semester, therefore you must submit your proposal at least one semester before you plan on defending your dissertation.

Final oral examination / “5-Year Rule”

You must also successfully complete the final oral exam (i.e., defend your dissertation) within 5 years of passing your preliminary exam. See “Final oral exam / defense” section for more information. While you can request an extension of the 5-year time limit, this is a rule set and administered by the Graduate School and the department cannot guarantee that an extension will be granted. The Graduate School may require that you retake the preliminary examination and be admitted to candidacy a second time. Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator if you think you will not meet this time limit.

Checklist for the Ph.D. degree

  • Complete your required coursework:
    • At least 51 total graduate credits
    • Of those 51 total credits, at least 36 “fresh” graduate credits
    • Of those 36 fresh credits, at least 18 graduate credits from C&I courses (excluding C&I 990, and 999). For students with a UW-Madison C&I master’s degree, this requirement drops to a 12 C&I credit minimum.
    • C&I 712: Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction
    • At least 3 courses of research methodology
    • D. minor (Option A: 9 credits, Option B: 12 credits)
  • In consultation with your advisor, assemble your preliminary exam committee.
  • Apply to take the preliminary exam by submitting the required paperwork to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks before your examination date.
  • Take and pass the preliminary examination within 5 years of admission to the Ph.D program.
  • In consultation with your advisor, assemble your dissertation proposal committee.
  • Prepare and obtain approval of your dissertation proposal within 2 years of passing your preliminary exam. File this approved proposal with the C&I Graduate Program Coordinator at least one semester prior to your final oral exam (i.e., dissertation defense).
  • Conduct your research, meeting the requirements of the Education Research Institutional Review Board (IRB) whenever applicable. Prepare your dissertation.
  • In consultation with your advisor, finalize your final oral exam committee.
  • In consultation with your advisor, send your finished dissertation to your final oral exam committee members at least 7 weeks prior to your oral defense date. This includes 4 weeks for the committee to read and 3 weeks for the Graduate Program office to work with the Graduate School to complete your paperwork.
  • Set up a meeting with the Graduate Program Coordinator to discuss the oral defense, depositing process, and paperwork (optional, but highly recommended).
  • Once your committee has read your dissertation and believes it is ready to be defended, complete and submit the necessary paperwork to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 3 weeks before your oral defense date, to generate a warrant for your defense.
    • Three members of your committee must sign the Oral Defense Form to indicate that they think you are ready to defend.
    • Complete the Final Oral Examination Committee Form, including your advisor’s signature that approves your committee’s composition.
    • Return both of the above forms to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • Pass the final oral exam within 5 years of passing the preliminary exam.
  • Deposit your completed dissertation and the signed warrant with the Graduate School for final approval and acceptance.
  • Attend commencement, if desired.

Very important reminders & tips

  • You must register for classes each fall and spring in order to remain a current student. This is especially important for dissertators, who will be assessed a degree completion fee equal to 12 times the current per-credit rate in effect at the time that they submit their dissertation to the Graduate School for final review, should they not remain continuously enrolled during their candidacy.
  • The Graduate School, University Health Services, and other units on campus provide resources for graduate students to help them with their studies and overall wellness. Students are encouraged to attend professional development events and to utilize these resources during their time on campus. See the Graduate School’s webpage for current graduate students for more info.
  • Warrants take time to process, and will not be fast-tracked. Please plan accordingly.
  • Your committee members must be given a minimum of 4 weeks to review your exams, theses, dissertations, etc.
  • Dissertators must successfully defend their dissertations within 5 years of becoming candidates.
  • The degree deadlines for each semester are hard deadlines of 11:55 PM. This means that if you miss it you will not get a degree that semester; instead, it will be issued in the following semester. Ph.D. students should keep this in mind when depositing online, as it does take some time to fill out the paperwork.
  • Graduation and commencement are related but separate events, with different procedures. Please see the C&I Graduate Program Information Page for more information.

Climate

Annual graduate student survey

Each spring you will be invited to participate in C&I’s annual graduate student survey. This anonymous survey captures your highly-valued feedback about your experiences in the department as a student. That data is used to make future programmatic decisions and to apply for more funding for our graduate students. Please consider participating to help further our department’s success in supporting all graduate students.

Conduct expectations

C&I faculty value respectful, intellectual exchanges, including the right to express different points of view in the spirit of academic freedom. The right to expression of different points of view comes with the responsibility to not engage in harassment, bullying, or discrimination. For further information about proper and improper conduct as a student and/or as a TA/PA/RA working for the UW, please visit the Graduate School’s website.

Reporting misconduct

The Graduate School maintains resources on academic misconduct and non-academic misconduct. All C&I students are encouraged to become familiar with how these two kinds of misconduct are defined, as well as to seek support via the resources available through the Graduate School’s website should you find yourself impacted by any kind of misconduct. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking are forms of harassment strictly prohibited by UW-Madison. More information, including sources of support and procedures for reporting harassment can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

Grievance procedures

If a student feels unfairly treated or aggrieved by faculty, staff, or another student, the University offers several avenues to resolve the grievance. Students’ concerns about unfair treatment are best handled directly with the person responsible for the objectionable action. If the student is uncomfortable making direct contact with the individual(s) involved, they should contact their advisor or the person in charge of the unit where the action occurred (program or department chair, section chair, lab manager, etc.). For more information see the Graduate School Academic Policies & Procedures: Grievances & Appeals.

Procedures for seeking resolution of student grievances

  1. The student is encouraged to speak first with the person toward whom the grievance is directed to see if a situation can be resolved at this level.
  2. Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved, the student should contact their faculty advisor or the C&I Director of Graduate Programs whose contact information is noted at the beginning of this guide to discuss the grievance. The faculty advisor or Director of Graduate Programs will facilitate problem resolution through informal channels and facilitate any complaints or issues of students. The first attempt is to help students informally address the grievance prior to any formal complaint. University resources for sexual harassment, discrimination, disability accommodations, and other related concerns can be found on the UW Office of Equity & Diversity website.
  3. Other campus resources include:
    1. The Graduate School
    2. McBurney Disability Resource Center
    3. Employee Assistance Office
    4. Ombuds Office
    5. University Health Services
  4. If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student can submit the grievance to the Director of Graduate Programs in writing, within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. Upon receipt of a written complaint, a Graduate Programs Committee meeting will be convened by the Director of Graduate Programs to manage the grievance. The Graduate Programs Committee will obtain a written response from the person toward who the complaint is directed. This response will be shared with the person filing the grievance.
  6. The Graduate Programs Committee will determine a decision regarding the grievance. The Director of Graduate Programs will report on the action taken by the committee in writing to both the student and the party toward whom the complaint was directed within 15 working days from the date the complaint was received.
  7. At this point, if either party (the student or the person toward whom the grievance is directed) is unsatisfied with the decision of the faculty committee, the party may file a written appeal. Either party has 10 working days to file a written appeal to the School/College.
  8. Documentation of the grievance will be stored for at least 7 years. Significant grievances that set a precedent will be stored indefinitely.

The Graduate School has procedures for students wishing to appeal a grievance decision made at the school/college level. These policies are described in the Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures.