The Graduate School considers progress to be minimally satisfactory when progress is such that a student completes the MA degree within two years from initial registration, the MPhil degree and the prospectus defense within four years from initial registration, and the PhD within nine years from initial registration. Students who receive credit for an MA completed elsewhere, and/or with two Residence Units of advanced standing, must complete the MPhil and the prospectus defense within three years from initial registration, and the PhD within eight years from initial registration; students who fail to meet this deadline will lose good academic standing and be placed on academic probation.
Students must defend the prospectus successfully by May 31 of their fourth year. Students who do not meet this deadline will lose good academic standing, be placed on probation, and not have their stipend disbursed for the ensuing fall semester. In exceptional circumstances, with a written rationale from the DGS and sponsor and the approval of GSAS, students may receive a final opportunity to defend their prospectus before September 30 of the fifth year. Students who do so successfully by September 30 of the fifth year will receive the full Dissertation Fellowship retroactively. Students who do not pass their prospectus by September 30 of their fifth year will lose PhD candidacy. For students who are off-cycle (those whose fifth year of matriculation begins in January), the corresponding deadlines described above will be December 15 and February 28.
Students must also maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. The cumulative GPA is derived from all courses in which a student has registered and received a grade. Students may not hold more than one mark of Incomplete at a time.
Continuous registration is required of all doctoral degree candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Exceptions are made for students on approved Leaves of Absence, which stop the clock on time-to-degree requirements and multi-year fellowship packages. For more information, see the Leaves of Absence page.
(Note: The rule commonly called the Seven-Year Rule refers to the maximum number of years PhD students are eligible for GSAS financial support.)
To receive the en-route MA, the student must apply for the MA degree with the Registrar. To receive the MPhil, the student must submit an application for the MPhil degree to the DGS, who then submits it to GSAS. For information about receiving the PhD, click here.
Assessment of Progress
The satisfactory progress of doctoral students is assessed annually on the basis of academic performance, including the timely completion of all language examinations and all certifying and comprehensive examinations and thesis requirements, grades, and performance in any required teaching or research apprenticeships.
In addition, each year post-MPhil students and students in their eighth semester who are required to complete the MPhil by the end of the semester must submit the Report on Progress in Candidacy online through SSOL. The dissertation sponsor reviews the student’s report, determines whether or not the student is making satisfactory progress, and reports this evaluation of progress annually to the GSAS Dean’s Office via SSOL. Students have access to the online report from mid-January through mid-March, and faculty have access until mid-April; specific deadlines can be found on SSOL.