Graduate Division

Advancement to Candidacy

When a student begins a graduate program, s/he is not yet a candidate for a graduate degree. To become a candidate for a graduate degree, a student must complete certain academic requirements to achieve the milestone of becoming a candidate for that degree. Advancement-to-candidacy signifies that the student has completed his or her coursework and other requirements and is ready to move forward to the dissertation phase for doctoral students or the thesis/comprehensive exam phase for master’s students. University policy requires students to advance to candidacy at least one quarter before they can earn the degree.


Students are admitted to candidacy if they pass by unanimous vote an oral examination administered by a Candidacy Committee. Advancement committee membership requires 5 members: 1 chair, 3 general members and 1 outside member. For students whose committee chair or advisor may have a financial interest in their work, an Oversight member is also required. During the advancement phase, students also select their 3 member dissertation committee. For further policy/procedural guidelines regarding advancement to candidacy please see the Ph.D Advancement to Candidacy form.

Please note: Doctoral students who plan to earn the master’s along the way toward the doctorate must advance separately for the master’s and Ph.D in order to earn both degrees. Advancement to candidacy for a Ph.D does not automatically grant the student a master’s degree.


The master's degree is attained by: Plan I, the Thesis option, or Plan II, the Comprehensive Examination option; both options require students to advance to candidacy. Plan II does not require a committee; however students must consult with their department regarding advancement requirements. Under Plan I a committee of three faculty members is required for advancement, 1 chair and 2 general members. For further policy/procedural guidelines please refer to the Master’s Advancement to Candidacy form.