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tennessee technological university

Exceptional Learning Ph.D. Candidate Responsibilities
Committee | Program of Study | Policies | Comprehensive Exam | Dissertation

Forming a Committee

  • The student's Ph.D. committee includes a minimum of four members. Additional committee members are optional. 
  • The committee must include a chair who has been credentialed by the university and three or more members, who must hold either associate or full graduate faulty status at TTU. 
  • Doctoral students have the right to amend their committees by adding, omitting, or replacing members, during the process of their study and in response to their changing needs.

Filing a Preliminary Program of Studies

  • In pursuing the Ph.D. program, students have primary responsibility for knowing the requirements and meeting them. Students should expect to take the initiative in planning and following their programs of study. This begins with the development of a preliminary program of studies which must be approved by all committee members and submitted to the Director of the Ph.D. program. 
  • A copy of the form to be used may be obtained from the Ph.D. Director. All substantive changes in the preliminary program must be approved by the committee and by the Director of the Ph.D. program. Approval is made either through a memo or initialing changes on the Preliminary Program of Studies.
  • The Preliminary Program of Studies must be turned in early in the program (usually no later than the third semester after formal admission to the program). This program is developed in collaboration with the total committee. Each committee member must sign it before it is submitted to the Director of the Ph.D. program. 
  • The program is reviewed, and the major advisor is notified of its approval or if there are any specific problems. The student will be sent a copy of this memo. 
  • Toward the end of a student's coursework, this Preliminary Program of Studies is used to check the Admission to Candidacy form. Without the Preliminary Program of Studies, approval of the candidacy form and its submission to the Graduate School may be delayed.

Keeping Up With University Policies

  • In addition to the Ph.D. Guidelines (this document), students are to follow the university student handbook and the Graduate Catalog.

Establishing Residence

  • During the Ph.D. program, the student must fulfill a residence requirement of three semesters in full-time enrollment. 
  • Full-time enrollment is defined as 9 semester hours of graduate credit during the academic year and 6 semester hours during the summer. 
  • A student in residence is expected to devote essentially all energies to graduate study on campus.

Comprehensive Examination

  • Following the completion of all coursework, excluding EDU 7920 and EDU 7990, at the closure of the last semester during which coursework is to be completed, students should complete their Comprehensive Examination. 
  • At the request of the Chair, each committee member will submit a number of questions to the Chair who will then choose at their discretion which questions to include in the examination. 
  • The student will be assigned a location on campus where they will have 4 to 6 hours per day over the course of three (3) days in which to complete their Comprehensive Examination. 
  • If the student fails a portion of or the entire exam, they must wait at least until the next semester to retake the exam. 
  • The student may retake the Comprehensive examination only once. If the student is not successful with the retake, they will be dismissed from the program.

Filing the Dissertation Proposal/Notifying Others About the Defense/Submitting Copies of the Dissertation

  • Copies of the dissertation proposal, signed by all members of a student's doctoral committee, must be filed in the office of the leader of the concentration to which the student reports as well as in the Ph.D. Director's office. 
  • The appropriate dissertation proposal form should be obtained in the student's home concentration office. 
  • The dissertation defense, along with announcement of defense that is filed with the Graduate School, must be submitted to the Ph.D. Director's Office. 
  • Two bound copies of the dissertation are filed with the Graduate School and one with the Ph.D. Director, Chair, and each Committee member.

Academic Requirements/Standards/Expectations

  • The student must maintain a cumulative point average of 3.25 and, in addition to adhering to the general regulations of the Graduate School, adhere to the specific regulations for the Ph.D. program. These regulations, standards, and expectations include:
  1. A minimum of 78/79 semester hours of course work, including 36 semester hours in the research component and dissertation requirements and built upon the student's course of study.
  2. A residency requirement of three full-time semesters (at least 9 hours each) must be met following matriculation.
  3. All requirements, including the dissertation, must be completed within a period of no more than eight consecutive years.
  4. Following completion of all coursework, excluding EDU 7920 and EDU 7990, or during the last semester during which course work is to be completed; students should complete their Comprehensive Examinations.
  5. Satisfactory completion of the dissertation requires an oral defense.
  6. The fifteen hours required for the dissertation may be completed in no fewer than two semesters.
  7. "A"s and "B"s are required in coursework. A grade of "C" is considered a failing grade in doctoral programs. The student is allowed to maintain a grade of "C" in only one course completed toward the Ph.D. degree. If a student receives two "C"s, they will be dismissed from the program. If another grade of "C" is received, it may not be substituted or moved out of the student's program of study.
  8. "F"s are not acceptable in the Ph.D. program. If a student receives a grade of "F" in a course, they will be dismissed from the program.
  9. If an Incomplete is granted, the student has one academic year to complete the requirements. The student is not allowed to carry more than one "I" at any time during the program. If the requirements have not been met in the allotted time period, the grade is converted to an "F" and the student will be dismissed from the program.
  10. Approval of the dissertation topic and a successful proposal to the entire Committee must precede any significant work on the dissertation. Approval from the Institutional Review Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects must be obtained for any research project initiated by a student (or faculty member).
  11. A maximum of 12 credit hours may be taken in one semester. Written approval from the Ph.D. Director, the student's concentration leader, and advisor is required to register and take more than 12 credit hours in one semester.

Plagiarism & Academic Misconduct Policy

  • The faculty and staff at TTU are committed to the lifelong learning of students and thus providing an environment for learning that fosters the highest academic conduct. To this end, TTU and its faculty reserve the right to use electronic means to detect and help prevent the inappropriate use of intellectual property. 
  • Student agrees and understands that by taking this course, his or her work may be subject to originality check through Turnitin, and student thereby grants any necessary copyright permission required to do so. 
    • Personally identifiable information (such as student name, social security number, student i.d. number, etc.) should NOT be included in the work submitted to Turnitin. 
    • This work will be encoded and stored in the Turnitin database where it will also be used for originality checks on other works submitted by the student or anyone else using the system. 
    • The faculty may require that the students submit their work through Turnitin or questionable text may be submitted by the faculty for the student. The terms that apply to TTU's use of the Turnitin service are described on the website.

On-line educational resources that provide information for understanding plagiarism and proper ways to cite the work of others are available at:

Students must complete the on-line test available at: 

Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct, such as submitting another student's work as your own or the falsification of data, are grounds for immediate dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. students are held to a higher standard of ethical conduct especially considering the central focus of this program. Working with and for at-risk populations demands the utmost ethical conduct and any evidence of unethical behavior or actions in coursework or research, including plagiarism, will result in the student's dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

There is no statute of limitations on plagiarism or academic misconduct. If a student's plagiarism or academic misconduct goes undetected until after completion of the course and/or project, the student can still be dismissed from the program. The procedure for dismissal is:

  1. An incidence of plagiarism or academic misconduct is presented to the student's advisor, leader of concentration, and Director of the Ph.D. Program.
  2. The Director of the Ph.D. Program will review the evidence in consultation with faculty members, the student's advisor, and concentration leader as well as the student accused of plagiarism or academic misconduct and will make a decision about whether dismissal is warranted. A decision advocating dismissal will be forwarded to the Graduate School.
  3. The student will be informed in writing by the Graduate School of the final, official decision. The student accused of plagiarism or academic misconduct may appeal the decision to the Ph.D. Admissions Committee.

A student accused of plagiarism or academic misconduct may appeal the decision to the Ph.D. Admissions Committee.

Definitions of Plagiarism

  • defines plagiarism as:
    "The improper use, or failure to attribute, another person's writing or ideas (intellectual property)" and explains that "It can be as subtle as the inadvertent neglect to include quotes or references when citing another source or as blatantly unethical as knowingly copying an entire paper verbatim and claiming it as your own work."
  • According to Merriam-Webster Online:
    plagiarism is "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own or to use (another's production) without crediting the source, or to commit literary theft and/or present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source."

Any incidence of plagiarism in the Ph.D. program will result in the student's dismissal from the program.