Return to: Academic Policies and Procedures
Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy
The Registrar’s office will automatically confer the status of Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy upon students who have achieved the academic requirements cited below in their respective doctoral programs.
Students can check with their Graduate Program Advisor or the Registrar’s office at any time to see if they have met Advancement to Candidacy requirements, or use the degree audit/program evaluation tool in WebAdvisor.
Students should refrain from referring to themselves as doctoral candidates until official advancement to doctoral candidacy status has been reached.
Advancement to candidacy requires the following academic requirements be completed:
Policy Revised 09/01/2022
Dissertation Committee Formation
Fielding Graduate University is committed to the integrity of the academic interest of doctoral students and, simultaneously, the highest ethical standards in the education of said students, including the development and review of the doctoral dissertation. This process is overseen by the student’s Dissertation Committee.
Minimal Committee Composition
The Dissertation Committee composition shall consist minimally of three members, two Fielding faculty members and an external examiner. Fielding schools or programs may require additional minimal membership, including a third faculty member and/or a student member. All faculty members and external examiner members of the committee must be doctorally qualified. The committee chair must hold a faculty appointment in the student’s home program, unless an exception is granted by the student’s program director to permit a faculty member from another program to chair the committee, and the home program of the proposed chair also approves.
School and program specific policies on committee membership are published in myFielding.
The external member (examiner) broadens the dissertation committee beyond Fielding to represent a different perspective by virtue of their field, location or knowledge application. For all programs, the external examiner on doctoral dissertations must be doctorally qualified and academically respected in a field appropriate for the student’s dissertation. This is typically evidenced by recent publications in relevant peer review journals or other scholarly publications.
External examiners usually have prior experience advising doctoral dissertations.
For all programs, external examiners may not have current or historical relationships which constitute real or apparent conflict of interest that could compromise the ability of the external examiner to provide unbiased review. Thus, the external will have no current or prior affiliation with Fielding as a student, faculty (regular or adjunct), staff, alumnus/a, or administrator.
External examiner appointments for HOD and SoP PhD committees are approved by the chair and Program Director, and, depending on the external’s qualifications, may require both chair and program director approval. For all other doctoral programs, external examiner approval is reviewed by the chair.
The below is to further clarify the School of Psychology’s expectations for external examiners beyond what is required of the institutional policy above.
External examiners for School of Psychology dissertations must:
1. Have recent experience supervising doctoral dissertations. Dissertation supervising experience of the external examiner can be waived if:
- the focus of the dissertation is sufficiently narrow that there are relatively few scholars to ask;
- the proposed examiner’s CV includes supervising research in multiple domains where he or she has been applying evaluation criteria equivalent (or higher) than those applied to a dissertation (e.g., grant evaluator, editor of a peer reviewed APA journal);
- the dissertation chair signs off on a written rationale for waiving this requirement using the SoP external examiner checklist form.
2. Evidence scholarly experience in the field of the student’s dissertation through empirical research publications, preferably recent publications.
3. Not be the owners of datasets to be used in the dissertation, or gatekeepers controlling access to participant samples. Such persons are ineligible and will not be approved to serve in this capacity.
Exceptions to the external examiner appointment, supported by the Program Director, must be reviewed by the Dean or their designee for approval.
Program Faculty Eligibility
When composing their dissertation committee, students may wish to have a faculty from a different Fielding doctoral program than their own, serve on their committees. While we are cognizant of potential human resource issues being raised by students utilizing dissertation committee members from other programs, our goal is to promote this collaborative practice as much as reasonable.
SLS students may have one faculty member from another SLS program as a member (not chair) of their dissertation committee, with no approvals needed. If the desired faculty member and the student are in different schools, the student must have approval from the dissertation committee Chair and the program Director, i.e., the student’s school/program and the potential faculty member’s school/program. In all cases, committee composition is subject to the individual school and/or program dissertation policies.
Across Schools, it is the Program Director’s responsibility to ensure that this extra assignment will fit within the faculty member’s workload prior to approval.
Within the SLS doctoral programs, it is the faculty member’s responsibility to ensure that this extra assignment will fit within their workload prior to accepting the assignment.
There will be no sanctions if a faculty member declines to serve for any reason.
When faculty serve on cross-school dissertation committees, the Registrar’s Office is to verify the permissions are in order.
Academic Interest and Conflict of Interest
A student’s academic interests include:
- ability to move freely from advisor to advisor and to change topic areas or research direction free from influence or pressures outside the realm of scientific appropriateness and personal choice;
- ability to complete and publish a dissertation and to freely publish, present, or otherwise disclose the results of research both within the academic community and to the public at large
- ability to use research results in future research and educational activities
It is essential that the members of the dissertation committee have not only the requisite professional credentials, but that they are also free of conflicts of interest that could bias or have the appearance of biasing their judgment about the academic interests of the student and the scholarly merit of the dissertation.
Doctoral students must address the issue of potential conflicts of interest regarding data, support for dissertation research, and the composition of the dissertation committee. The student and dissertation committee chair have the responsibility to provide the dissertation committee with information on potential conflicts of interest or any arrangements concerning data sets.
Potential conflicts of interest with committee membership are when committee members stand to gain from specific results of the study or who may be relatives, friends, employers, or employees of the student.
Upon disclosure, the committee will determine whether the potential conflict of interest or arrangements concerning data sets are consistent with and pose minimal risk of harm to the student’s academic interests and can be continued. If not, consideration will be given to methods of resolution of these conflicts. If an unavoidable conflict is identified in regard to committee membership, continued participation by the committee member requires approval of the committee chair.
For all potential conflicts a written plan to manage the conflict must be submitted by the chair to the program director.
Policy Revised 09/01/2023
Fielding Graduate University upholds the tradition that doctoral candidates have an obligation to make their research available to other scholars. This policy was developed to ensure the widest possible dissemination of student-authored dissertation research.
Doctoral candidates must publish their proofread and corrected dissertations with ProQuest Dissertation publishing. When candidates electronically submit their dissertations to ProQuest:
- Candidates may choose either the “Open Access” option or the “Traditional Publishing” option.
- Fielding Graduate University has no restrictions on embargos. Candidates may choose whether they wish to embargo their work or not.
- Candidates must select to have ProQuest copyright their dissertations on their behalf. Fielding Graduate University will pay the copyright fee.
As of Fall 2019 students who wish to have physical copies of the dissertation may order bound copies directly from ProQuest after filing. ProQuest offers softbound, hardbound and author milestone bindery options.
Policy Revised 09/01/2019
Dissertation Research Assistance
The student is responsible for the dissertation under guidance from the faculty members and readers on the dissertation committee. This responsibility can in no way and to no extent is externalized to others. The student is fully responsible for the substance, methodology, quality, completeness, and appropriateness of the dissertation, and must understand all of the work sufficiently to be able to present it independently and justify and explain it to others.
Students sometimes receive assistance from other than committee members and readers with tasks such as editing, data collection, data management and data analysis. None of these tasks may be delegated completely to another individual. Assistance from someone other than a committee member or reader implies that this person has a secondary role in terms of effort and decision-making responsibility.
The dissertation committee members, and in particular the committee chair, should be consulted regarding assistance prior to obtaining it. In addition, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application requires, among other things, detailed specification of the process of collecting data from participants. This is expected to include descriptions of who will be conducting the actual data collection, what the qualifications of such individuals are, and how they will be supervised by the author of the dissertation. The students should seek their guidance regarding how much assistance is appropriate and how much might exceed acceptable levels in the judgment of the committee. The student must identify in the dissertation those individuals who provided approved assistance and describe what was provided.
Failures to comply with this policy should be referred to the Committee on Academic Integrity as described in the policy on Academic Honesty .
Policy Revised 01/01/2009
Final Oral Review Scheduling
The Final Oral Review (FOR) is designed for the doctoral candidate to present their research. The FOR has two major purposes:
- It’s an evaluative checkpoint for the student and the committee.
- It’s a respectful celebration of scholarly research.
Students are encouraged to complete their FORs via web conferencing or similar technology if the school/program allows. FORs may also occur at a regularly scheduled Fielding event, such as national/research/clinical sessions, professional development seminars, cluster meetings, or New Student Orientations. Prior to an FOR being scheduled, the full dissertation committee must have reviewed and recommended approval of the dissertation upon the completion of revisions. It is permissible for the dissertation draft incorporating the required revisions to be reviewed only by the chair, and not the full committee. The chair of the committee and one committee member (determined by individual schools) authorize the scheduling of the FOR.
FORs held at a venue outside National Sessions (e.g., at a professional development seminar) should take place no sooner than 6 weeks after the developed dissertation has been sent to full committee review. The deadline for distribution of students’ dissertations to full committee review prior to any planned FOR being held at a National Session will need to be earlier to accommodate session scheduling needs. The student must consult the University Master Calendar for current relevant deadlines.
The FOR is announced to the Fielding community and is open to all members of the Fielding community and invited guests. The announcement should include the date, time and place where the FOR is to be held. The minimum number of committee members in attendance at the FOR should include the chair and one faculty committee member (additional requirements are left to each School’s discretion). All committee member(s) can be present either in person or through teleconferencing/video conferencing.
The chair may elect to sign the dissertation title pages at the FOR or may choose to wait until any requested revisions have been completed before signing. In the latter event, it is the student’s responsibility to see that the signature pages are signed by the chair before submitting the final version of the pages to Fielding administration.
Specific scheduling requirements per doctoral program/school appear below:
Clinical Psychology Program
Final oral reviews need to be conducted at a Fielding residential event (e.g., national session, professional development seminar, or regional meeting) with one or more Fielding faculty being present in person. A minimum of two committee members, including the chair, must attend either via video conferencing or in person.
This policy only applies if the chair and student are in agreement to hold the FOR in this manner. The Chair is not required to agree to this FOR format. When the chair does not agree to attend virtually, then the Chair will need to be physically present at the FOR. Thus, such discussions should occur early in the dissertation process- especially when chair and student do not reside in the same area.
When the FOR occurs at a professional development seminar, the faculty member would need to agree to host the event at a time convenient to the student attendees.
This policy is designed to encourage the scheduling of Final Oral Reviews (FORs) outside of National Sessions.
The University and EdD program require that the chair plus one other member of the core committee is to be in attendance at an FOR. The committee members may be in attendance virtually.
In addition to Fielding’s University-wide policy that the FOR should take place no sooner than 6 weeks after the developed dissertation has been sent to the full committee review in the case of FORs not held at National Sessions, EdD policy is that there must be 30 days between the date the chair authorizes the student to schedule the FOR and the date on which the FOR actually occurs. This 30-day period allows for the student, staff, and faculty members to complete all the logistical work needed to support an FOR (e.g., making the required announcement, completing any needed phone or video conference training and scheduling, and producing the FOR booklet when an audience will be present). This also provides dissertation committee members time to re-familiarize themselves with the dissertation draft before the FOR is held.
HD, HOS, IECD, Media Psychology, and OD&C Programs
This policy encourages the scheduling of FORs outside of National Sessions. FORs may be virtual, via video-conferencing, or in-person at cluster meetings or other Fielding sessions. The University and the above listed programs require the dissertation chair plus at least one other faculty member of the core committee to be in attendance either in-person or virtually.
In addition to Fielding’s University-wide policy that the FOR should take place no sooner than 6 weeks after the developed dissertation has been sent to the full committee review in the case of FORs not held at National Sessions, and the above listed programs require that there must be 30 days between the date the chair authorizes the student to schedule the FOR and the date on which the FOR actually occurs.
Notification of the date, time, and location of FORs should be posted to the Fielding community at least one week in advance of the FOR.
Policy Revised 01/01/2020
Maximum Units Completed with Individual Faculty
Doctoral and postdoctoral Respecialization students may assess for no more than 29 course units with a single faculty member unless further restricted by an individual program. Dissertation courses are excluded from this measure. The following programs have set these additional restrictions:
- Clinical and Media Psychology doctoral programs/RCP certificate program: Students may assess with the same faculty member for a maximum of 20 units. Dissertation courses are excluded from this measure.
Policy Revised 06/01/2008