Ph.D. Dissertation

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in statistics are required to take two qualifying examinations, prepare a dissertation, and defend their dissertation before they can earn their degree.


Ph.D. students are required to pass the following two examinations:

  • Ph.D. qualifying examination, which is a written test for certain basic courses in the program.
  • General examination, which is an oral test that covers aspects of applied statistics, linear models, probability theory, and statistics. Contains a dissertation proposal.

Please note: In order for a student currently enrolled in our MS program to switch to the Ph.D. program or to be considered for financial support, they must first pass both parts of the Ph.D. qualifying exam at the Ph.D. level.

Dissertation and Defense

Students are also required to prepare a dissertation, which must present an original contribution to the general area of statistics and/or probability. A Ph.D. degree must include at least 15 credits of GRAD 6950. Doctoral Dissertation Research.

Once complete, Ph.D. students must present a defense of their dissertation before an audience of interested members of the Department.


For students arriving with a bachelor’s degree and receiving financial support from the Department, students should follow the following suggested timetable:

  • Ph.D. qualifying examination - within three semesters from the start of the program.
  • General Examination - within six semesters from the start of the program.
  • Ph.D. thesis defense - no later than five years from the start of the program.

Resources and Notes

The Registrar’s web page on doctoral degrees contains all relevant information and forms that students need to prepare for their dissertations and plan their academic careers.

Please note the following:

  • Doctoral students no longer need to complete and submit a Tentative Approval Page to the Registrar’s Office, the Graduate School, or Degree Audit.
  • Ph.D. students are required to announce their defense on the University Events Calendar at least two weeks prior to the defense date. Visit the Registrar’s web page on doctoral degrees for instructions on how to post
    your defense announcement.
  • After a successful dissertation defense, students must complete the following items. Be sure to submit the required paperwork by the published deadline on the Academic Calendar.