This checklist is meant to be used as a supplement to information obtained from the University Catalog and the graduate program, and as an aid to meeting Graduate School requirements for the doctoral degree.  The graduate program should be consulted about specific additional requirements.

Pre-Candidacy (Early and mid-way through your degree program)

All courses listed on the Application for Admission to Candidacy must have been taught by members of the graduate faculty, must have grades of B- or better, and must be at the 5000 level or above. For policies concerning academic probation, refer to the graduate school rules in the University Catalog.

All courses 5000 or above must be taught by faculty who have been approved for a graduate faculty appointment. Membership on the University faculty does not automatically constitute an appointment to the graduate faculty. Contact your departmental graduate program assistant for questions concerning these appointments.

After completion of one semester (or six credit hours) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, submit a transfer of credit request if applicable. Transfer credit is defined as any credit earned at another accredited institution, credits earned at another campus of the CU system, or credits earned as a non-degree student within the CU system. Work with your program to complete a Request for Transfer of Credit form. Each graduate program will review the courses for course content and may have requirements above and beyond those listed below.


Transfer of credit minimum requirements:

  • The transfer of credit limit is 21 credits for doctoral degrees.
  • Courses must have been taken at an accredited institution with a grade of B or better. 
  • Transfer work that is five years old or more at the time of transfer must be evaluated by the major department as to current relevance and applicability to degree requirements. 
  • Courses may not have been used toward a bachelor's degree, toward another degree of the same level, or from a doctoral degree to a subsequent master's degree. See the back of the form for further transfer of credit rules.

 If your graduate program requires one of these examinations, work closely with them to determine the timeline and process to complete it.

The comprehensive exam must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance by submitting a Doctoral Examination Report form obtained from your department. The form must list a minimum of 5 committee members who will be approved by the Graduate School. The chair of the committee must have a current regular or tenured appointment. The other four members must have either a regular or special appointment. Students must be registered as regular degree seeking students on the Boulder campus the semester the exam is held. To pass the exam the student must have the affirmative vote of the majority of the committee. Membership on the University faculty does not automatically constitute an appointment to the graduate faculty. Contact your departmental graduate program assistant for questions concerning these appointments.

​Students must submit to the Graduate School a Candidacy Application for an Advanced Degree within two weeks of passing the comprehensive examination.  Applications follow a workflow process and must be approved by the academic department before they are directed to the Graduate School.


A minimum of 30 dissertation hours are required for the PhD.  Up to 10 credit hours may be taken in any given semester.

After passing the comprehensive exam a PhD student is required to be continuously registered each fall and spring semester through the semester of the dissertation defense. The registration requirement is full-time (5 dissertation hours) or part-time status (3 dissertation hours). The semester of the defense full-time registration is required.

The DMA continuous registration requirement is enrollment in dissertation credits having the course number 8200-8399 or TMUS 8029 through the semester in which the final examination is completed. AuD students should register for appropriate coursework/internship credits and full time registration is required during the semester of the final examination.

A student who does not register continuously for required hours after passing the comprehensive examination may be required to retake and pass the examination. If you have questions or concerns, check in with your graduate program.

Degree Award

Graduation deadlines are provied by the Graduate School for upcoming semesters. Forms must be submitted to the Graduate School by the deadlines for the indicated graduation. These deadlines apply regardless of attendance at the commencement ceremony. (Note: if you do not meet the graduation deadline for your final exam, but can complete the exam before the first day of class for the upcoming semester, you will not be required to register for another semester, but your paperwork will be processed for the next scheduled commencement date. Plan ahead carefully, as this means the exam must be done on or before the Friday before classes begin.) International students in F-1 or J-1 status must consult with International Student and Scholar Services (located in the Center for the Community, room S355) in these cases.  F-1 and J-1 regulations require enrollment in order to maintain valid F-1 or J-1 status.  You must be advised by an ISSS advisor if you will not have future enrollment upcoming semesters.

Students must must apply online to graduate through buff portal on the “apply for graduation” card in order to have the degree awarded. This notifies the Graduate School and your department that you intend to graduate, and it provides necessary information to the Registrar's Office for ordering and shipping diplomas. If you do not complete requirements for the graduation you indicate on the online application, you must apply online to graduate for the new graduation date. You must apply to graduate online whether or not you plan to attend the ceremony. Detailed instructions for applying to graduate can be found on the Registrar's site. PhD students must enter their dissertation title as part of the online graduation application. This title will appear in the commencement program and on your transcript. You may update the title through your portal until the deadline to cancel/update.

The defense should be scheduled with the Graduate School by submitting a Doctoral Examination Report at least two weeks in advance. The defense committee is comprised of a minimum of 5 members who must have current graduate faculty appointments. Three of the members must be Boulder campus resident faculty. The chair and outside member should both have a regular or tenured appointment. The other 3 members can have either a regular or special appointment. To pass the defense the student must have the affirmative vote of at least four of the committee members.

A student must be registered full-time for a minimum of five dissertation hours during the semester of the defense. The 30 dissertation hour requirement must be met at the time the defense is scheduled. If you are an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, ask an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services about immigration requirements for the semester following the defense. Students may review their dissertation hours by referring to their unofficial transcript which is available on line.

PhD students must submit their dissertation electronically, along with the Thesis Approval Form (TAF), by the Graduate School’s deadline in order to graduate in any given semester. Students should submit the thesis electronically and must have an approved submission by 5:00 p.m. on the deadline day. The TAF must be submitted along with the dissertation as a supplemental file.   Formatting specifications for the dissertation can be found on our Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission page. The Graduate School recommends that a pre-check of your format be done before you submit the final version. You can request that by e-mailing a pdf of your dissertation to

Additional Information

Students must complete all requirements for the degree within six years of commencing work in the doctoral program. Students who wish to request additional time must petition the Dean of the Graduate School and have their faculty advisor’s endorsement. Completion of requirements includes defending the dissertation and submission to the Graduate School. Any semester(s) on Time Off are included in the time limit to complete the degree.

Graduate students who need to leave school for 1-2 semesters may participate in the Leave of Absence Program (details available in the Registrar’s Office). Doctoral students who have passed their comprehensive exam are not normally eligible for Leave of Absence because of the continuous enrollment requirement. Parental leave is an exception. To request any other exception because of extenuating circumstances a petition to the Dean of the Graduate School should be submitted. Students who do not register for a semester or apply for Leave of Absence will automatically be withdrawn from the University and will need to reapply for readmission. Students who withdraw from school permanently must do so formally with the Registrar’s Office.

If you are an international student and plan to participate in Leave of Absence or withdraw from school, please see an advisor at International Student and Scholar Services.