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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Doctoral Degree Requirements

UCSB offers three doctoral degrees: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) (Closed to new applicants). The Ph.D. is not a unit-count degree, but a research degree awarded upon demonstration of the student’s academic excellence and research capability. To that end, doctoral students must pass doctoral qualifying examinations to demonstrate mastery of their chosen field and produce a dissertation acceptable to their doctoral committee. Doctoral students normally follow a plan of study determined in consultation with their advisors. The D.M.A. is a professional degree with distinct course, performance, and research requirements and the Ed.D. is a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Specific degree requirements for each discipline are described in the department’s section in this catalog.

Doctoral Committee
Nomination of a doctoral committee is required prior to advancement to doctoral candidacy. In most departments, the same doctoral committee is nominated to administer and assess the student's qualifying examinations and supervise dissertation work. In some departments, separate qualifying examination and dissertation committees are nominated. The Doctoral committee is approved by and responsible to the Graduate Dean under policies established by the Graduate Council. The Doctoral committee consists of at least three UC Academic Senate members, with a tenure-track faculty member from the student’s major (home) department serving as chair or co-chair. At least two members of every doctoral committee must be tenure-track faculty. The majority of the three members shall be from the student’s UCSB major (home) department.   Recommendation of the appointment of additional members to the doctoral committee is at the discretion of the department.

Doctoral Advancement
Departments set different requirements for the qualifying examination(s) to advance to doctoral candidacy. Students should refer to their department-specific advancement to doctoral candidacy requirements in the General Catalog and department handbook (designated by admission year).

Qualifying Examinations
To take the qualifying exam(s), students must meet the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory completion of all preliminary requirements established by the University and their department (Senate reg. 350D). Students should understand their department-specific requirements as many departments have additional standards above those established by the University
  • Registration in three consecutive quarters prior to the quarter of the qualifying exam(s)
  • Registration in the quarter taking the qualifying exam(s)
  • An approved doctoral committee on file with the Graduate Division - To advance to doctoral candidacy, students must first pass the department-specific written and oral exams conducted by a doctoral committee. (Senate reg. 350D)

After the exam(s), the committee completes and signs the Doctoral Degree Form II, indicating if the student passed or failed. If a student does not pass all or part of the qualifying exam(s), the Committee Chair should submit to the Graduate Division the Doctoral Form II including a brief summary explaining committees' decision and re-examination requirements.

Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy
To advance to doctoral candidacy, students must:

  • Pass the qualifying exams
  • Pay the $50.00 advancement to candidacy fee at the Cashier's Office
  • Submit to Graduate Division the completed Doctoral Form II and Cashier's receipt
  • After advancing to doctoral candidacy, a student's class level changes to P2 the next registered quarter, non-resident tuition is reduced (if applicable), and additional borrowing privileges are granted at the Davidson Library.

Preparing for the Dissertation Defense
When preparing for a dissertation defense, students should:

  • Verify with their department that all University and departmental degree requirements have been met
  • Verify the defense format required by your department (Senate reg. 355)
  • Review and use the Thesis and Dissertation Formatting and Filing Requirements resources
  • Verify with your department that dissertation committee membership is current. If there has been a change in the committee from the time of advancement, a Committee Form 1-A must be submitted to the Graduate Division
  • Have a Graduate Division Academic Advisor conduct a "pre-check" of your dissertation
  • Have signature page(s) and Doctoral Form III ready for committee to sign

Preparing to File and Completing the Filing Process for a Dissertation
For details about the dissertation filing process, visit the Graduate Division's website at