Policy on Extensions of the PhD Programs

The deadline for submission of a thesis is August 31 of Academic Year 6 for students in the four-year program, and of August 31 of Academic Year 7 for students in the five-year program. To compensate for possible delays, you must allow a generous amount of time for final consultations with your supervisor and adviser and for the mechanical stages of bringing the thesis into proper form for submission to the Department.

Registration beyond the deadline requires the approval of both the Department and the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). A student who is unable to meet this submission deadline must apply in writing for an extension to the Graduate Coordinator before August 31. The letter should indicate in brief detail how much of the thesis has been completed in first draft form, what (if any) remains to be done to complete the first draft, and how much redrafting is anticipated. The Department will contact the supervisor for a separate assessment of the work already done, and for an opinion about whether an acceptable thesis can be completed and submitted by August 31 of the following year. This evidence will be reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator in early September and its recommendation will be forwarded to SGS. Extensions can be granted for either all or part of a year; but it is recommended that first extensions be for a full year.

SGS permits a candidate to have no more than 2 year-length extensions. The procedure to be followed for obtaining a second extension is the same as for the first, but a convincing case is made difficult because of previous assurance that an acceptable thesis would already have been submitted. Students must assure SGS that considerable progress has been made during the first extension; and the supervisor must support this claim.

Students who fail to receive an extension and who thus are refused further registration are designated as “lapsed candidates” by SGS. This designation may have a negative connotation, but in fact SGS has adopted a fair policy to those who have been so classified. It is by no means a termination of candidacy. The student is entitled to submit a completed or nearly completed thesis to the Department at a later time, requesting that it be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree. The Department will then solicit an expert opinion on the thesis—the consultant may be but need not be the student’s former supervisor—and, if this opinion is that the thesis is acceptable, or virtually so, the Department will then formally request SGS to revive the student’s candidacy for a period of twelve months. The thesis must be submitted in final form within four months from reinstatement.

SGS reasons that by the end of six [seven] years a student in the four-year [five-year] program will have received sufficient supervision to continue without further formal direction, and that it is now up to the student alone to produce a thesis. There is in this policy, of course, an obvious element of self-interest, for SGS is able to reduce somewhat its enormous burden of paper work. But the policy is not inconsiderate, and it carries no financial penalty to the lapsed candidate. At present SGS sets no upper time limit for the submission of a thesis by a lapsed candidate.

When a candidacy lapses, the Department’s obligation to provide further supervision ceases. However, the Department will do nothing either to encourage or to discourage informal consultation between former supervisor and former candidate.