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Ph.D. Plan of Study 

The Plan of Study for PhD is "Form XV" and must be obtained from the Graduate School; a practice form is included with this handout. However, the simplest approach is to access the form on the Graduate School web page, type in the information, and print the form. The Plan of Study must have a minimum of 60 hours of graduate credit beyond the Bachelor degree. Only 6000, 7000 and 8000 level courses can count towards the final degree.

Format for Plan of Study (also see the "Checklist for the Plan of Study"):

  • There must be a minimum of 30 hours of graded course work beyond the bachelor’s degree; these 30 hours must be 6000 or 7000 level courses. At least 18 of these hours must be completed while enrolled in a PhD program at Auburn University.
  • A student must enroll for a minimum of 10 hours of BIOL 8990 (Research and Dissertation); this is ungraded course work and can be included in the 30 additional hours (see below). These 15 hours must appear on the Plan of Study.
  • In addition to the 30 hours of graded course work, there must be an additional 30 hours of work (6000, 7000, 8000 level). Some of these additional hours can be ungraded course work, e.g., as BIOL 8990 (no more than 8 hours of 7970 and 4 hours of 7980 may appear on the plan of study or count toward the degree).
  • A student must enroll for BIOL 8950 (Doctoral Seminar) twice,1 hour credit each time taken; a student earns credit by giving a departmental seminar. BIOL 8950 can be included in the 30 hours of ungraded course work.
  • A 3.0 GPA must have been earned on all transfer credit from other universities.
  • The following courses (or equivalent) must have been completed by a graduate student during the undergraduate or graduate career before he/she is permitted to graduate:
    • 1 course Physics (General Survey)
    • 1 course Calculus
    • 1 sequence Organic Chemistry (General Survey or Higher)
    • 1 course Genetics
  • Any subdisciplinary course deficiencies, as identified by the Graduate Studies Committee and the Student’s Advisory Committee, must be completed in the 2nd year of residence.
  • Please remember that "course deficiencies" must be completed before the degree is awarded. Course deficiencies must be listed on the Plan of Study.
  • The Plan of Study must be approved by the student’s advisory committee and submitted by the end of the student’s second semester (excluding summer); if a student begins in Fall 2013, the Plan of Study is due by the end of Fall Semester, 2014.
  • After the student has enrolled in the doctoral program, an advisory committee should be selected by the student, major professor and department/program head or chair. The advisory committee is responsible for developing the student’s Plan of Study and conducting the doctoral general and final examinations. It should consist of at least four members of the Auburn Graduate Faculty. Additional voting members may be appointed to the committee (including no more than one non-Auburn University faculty member, who must hold the terminal degree in the field). A majority of the Auburn University affiliated committee members, including the major professor, must be members of the Graduate faculty at Level 2. The major professor must also be a graduate faculty member in the department/program granting the degree. The formal appointment of the advisory committee occurs when the Plan of Study is approved by the Graduate School.
  • There is no foreign language requirement.
  • The Compliance Form for use of animals and human subjects must be signed and attached to your Plan of Study.

Research Proposal: 
The dissertation Research Proposal should be approved by the advisory committee and submitted by the end of the student’s third semester (excluding summer). If a student enters Fall 2009, then the proposal is due by the end of Fall Semester, 2010. Students should consult the major professor for guidance in preparing the Research Proposal.

Preliminary Exam:
This exam consists of oral and written components and is given by the student’s advisory committee in the student’s major and minor fields. Course work should be completed before these exams are taken. The written segment does not require approval in advance by the Graduate School. The oral portion does require approval by making application to the graduate school at least 1 week in advance. The oral exam is given after the successful completion of the written exam but well in advance of the final exam. At least 1 complete semester must intervene between the oral exam and the final exam (thus, the 2 exams cannot be taken in consecutive semesters). A unanimous vote of approval is required for successful completion of the oral exam. If the exam is failed, a re-examination may be given on approval of the advisory committee and the Dean of the Graduate Council. A student becomes a candidate for the PhD degree upon successful completion of the preliminary exam.

Final Exam:
After the final draft of the dissertation has been approved by the student’s advisory committee, it is submitted to the Graduate School, and an outside reader is appointed to read it. When the Graduate School has approved the dissertation, then the student can apply for the final exam (obtain this form from the Graduate School). This application must be filed with the Graduate School at least 1 week in advance of the final exam. The final exam is administered by the student’s advisory committee and the outside reader attends. Successful completion requires a unanimous vote (excluding the outside reviewer; see page 6 of this booklet).

Graduation Check:
It is the responsibility of the student to request a graduate check from the Graduate School to determine if all requirements have been met. To do this, indicate expected graduation date on registration card during registration for final semester. It is essential that the graduation check be done no later than the end of the semester prior to the semester of graduation.



Last Updated: 08/16/2016