The Doctor of Philosophy Degree is awarded for high accomplishment in Agricultural Sciences and is measured by the student's ability to:
- Pass the preliminary examination for admission to candidacy
- Meet the research tool requirement of the program
- Perform a piece of original research
- Present the results in proper form in a dissertation
- Defend the dissertation before a faculty committee
Foundation work: The doctoral degree program requires the successful completion of a common core of research methodology courses, including:
- A two semester sequence of graduate level statistics courses for 4-5 credit hours each
- 3-4 credit hour graduate level experimental design course
- A three-credit course in Research and Teaching Communications
- Two semesters of graduate seminar
- 24 hours of dissertation credits
There will be an additional minimum of 20 hours of structured courses appropriate for each student's area of emphasis. The student's graduate advisory committee must approve these courses.
All Ph.D. students in the program will be required to teach or assist in teaching at least two courses within the College of Agricultural Sciences while in the program. This requirement is regardless of the form of stipend of the student, i.e. if a student is on a research assistantship throughout their tenure in the program, they will still be required to teach or assist in teaching courses.
There is no minimum credit-hour requirement beyond the core, the area of emphasis, and the Graduate School's residency and dissertation requirements.
A student in consultation with their major professor will prepare a program of study, including courses in the student's area of emphasis, by the end of the second semester of residency. This plan of study, when approved by the student's advisory committee, will be filed with the Director of Graduate Studies for the College.
By the end of the second semester in residence, students must have chosen an area of emphasis and formed a graduate advisory committee to approve their coursework and oversee their dissertation research.
The graduate advisory committee will consist of at least five graduate faculty members, with the majority from within the College of Agricultural Sciences and no more than three members from one department. The committee chair will be the student's major professor and must be a member of the College of Agricultural Sciences faculty.
Preliminary examination: To be admitted to candidacy, the student must have completed the Graduate School's 24 credit hours residency requirement within four calendar years, plus the core and emphasis area coursework that was approved by their graduate advisory committee.
This should take the student three to four semesters, depending on whether they had any graduate-level research methodology courses during their Master's degree. At this time, they will take both written and oral preliminary examinations designed and administered by the student's graduate advisory committee.
These exams will each have two parts. One will focus on the student's knowledge of the research methodology core and the second part will focus on the student's chosen area of emphasis. If the preliminary examinations are not passed, a student must wait a minimum of three months for the second and final attempt to pass the exam.
After passing the written and oral preliminary exams and with an approved dissertation proposal, the student will be admitted to candidacy. The Graduate School requires that Ph.D. students fulfill all degree requirements within five years of admission to candidacy or they may have to retake their preliminary exams.
Dissertation and dissertation examination: By the beginning of the fifth semester of residence, the students will present to their graduate committee a dissertation research proposal. The student's committee must approve the proposal by the end of their fifth semester of residence. At this time, students must present their dissertation proposal verbally in the form of a graduate seminar.
All faculty members in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the student's graduate advisory committee, all other graduate students in the College, and appropriate individuals from industry groups in Southern Illinois will be invited to these seminars.
Following the seminar, the student will meet with their graduate advisory committee and will be asked to defend the substance and methods of the proposed research.
The student's graduate advisory committee will monitor the student's progress on the dissertation. When the dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the graduate advisory committee, the committee will administer a final oral exam that will focus on defense of the dissertation.
On successful completion of the dissertation and final oral exam, the student is recommended to the Graduate School for the doctoral degree.