Graduate School Requirements

The student is responsible for all Graduate School requirements whether listed here or not. Field requirements may be more stringent than Graduate School requirements in some instances. Please review the Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty for a thorough overview of policies regarding graduate studies at Cornell.

  • Student progression toward an advanced degree is determined not only by the quality of work completed (through faculty evaluations and formal exams) but also by the length of time spent in the pursuit of the degree. For research degrees, the Graduate School measures this progress in terms of registered semesters. PhD candidates are required to obtain a minimum of six registered semesters. Two of these six semesters are required after the A exam. At least half of the registered semesters earned toward the above requirements must be earned from the full-time academic-year study on the Ithaca campus.
  • The special committee chair shall provide qualitative feedback on student progress, from the first year through the completion of the degree, using the Student Progress Review (SPR) form. Students, in consultation with the committee chair, are required to complete a self-assessment, reflect on progress toward established academic goals, report on professional development activities, and identify future plans and timelines. The SPR will be completed by Communication PhD students in May of each year of their graduate career.
  • All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within seven years of the first registration in the Graduate School (see Time-to-Degree Limits policy).
  • A PhD student may petition to have study in another graduate degree program at Cornell or study in other graduate schools counted toward the registration requirement. Upon recommendation of the special committee and approval of the Dean, a maximum of two semesters of advanced standing toward the PhD requirements may be awarded for a master’s degree completed at Cornell or at another university. Requests will not be formally considered until the student is registered as a PhD student in the Graduate School.
  • Students are required to take two examinations: a comprehensive admission to candidacy examination (the “A exam”) after the student has earned at least two registration units, and a final examination after completion of the dissertation (the “B exam”).
  • Students must complete a dissertation.