Qualifying Examination & Dissertation


By the beginning of the third semester of coursework, the student must identify a dissertation chair and form a dissertation advisory committee. Prior to enrolling in EDL 792, Research in Educational Administration and Supervision (proposal writing course taken during last semester of coursework), the student must present a dissertation prospectus for review by dissertation committee. Once the prospectus is approved, the student can enroll in EDL 792 and begin the proposal writing process for the dissertation.

Qualifying Examination

Eligibility to sit for QE is determined by two conditions:

  • Successful completion of the required 42 credit hours of coursework—including removal of all incomplete grades, and
  • Approval by dissertation chair of final versions of Chapters 1-3 of dissertation.

Once eligibility to sit for QE is achieved and with approval from dissertation chair, the student notifies the other members of the advisory committee that he or she is ready to schedule the QE. This process is typically done via an email message to all committee members to which is attached the approved three dissertation chapters and with a request for their availability during a two-week window. Once the committee determines date and two-hour time period for the QE, the student contacts the EDL Administrative Assistant to request a room where the QE will be conducted.

Once the date, time, and location are determined, the student is then ready to complete two other essential tasks:

  • Submit online request to schedule QE, and
  • Register for EDL 767 Dissertation Residency Credit (2 credit hours).

Dissertation Residency

Students must enroll in EDL 767 Dissertation Residency Credit (2 credits) the semester in which the qualifying examination is scheduled and remain continuously enrolled in EDL 767 until successfully passing oral examination (i.e., dissertation defense). The UK Graduate School requires a minimum of 4 residency credits earned during academic year (i.e., Fall and Spring semester). If candidate schedules the final exam during the summer, then he or she must be enrolled in EDL 767 that summer session as well.


After passing the qualifying examination, a doctoral candidate is eligible to proceed with dissertation research. Approval to conduct research must be sought from the UK Institutional Review Board (IRB) and any other entities requiring permission to conduct research at a site or to use existing data.

Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)

The summative assessment for the doctoral program is defense of a completed dissertation during a formal oral examination conducted by candidate's advisory committee and an external reviewer representing the UK Graduate School. Candidates who pass the oral examination have up to 60 days to make revisions to dissertation before submitting a final copy in required format to EDL and Graduate School. Candidate must complete all degree requirements within five years of passing qualifying examination.

IMPORTANT: “All degree requirements for the doctorate must be completed within five years following the semester or summer session in which the candidate successfully completes the qualifying examination” (Graduate School Bulletin, 2011, p. 54).

Doctoral students and candidates should review the Graduate School Bulletin each year to remain informed about their responsibilities and time limits ( http :// www . research . uky . edu / gs / CurrentStudents / bulletin . html ). Information in the Bulletin is subject to change—not knowing is not an acceptable response to missed deadlines.