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Doctoral Students

Dissertation Guidelines for Doctoral Candidates

All doctoral students must work with the Graduate School for submission of all forms and dissertation approval.  Contact for the Graduate School is:

  • Jessica Halliday
    Phone: 303-315-5879
    Location: Lawrence Street Center, 1380 Lawrence Street, Suite 1249

Courses applied to a PhD Degree

Doctoral programs require a minimum 30 semester credits of courses at the 5000 level or above and a minimum of 30 semester credits of dissertation. All courses that count toward a graduate degree must be approved by the degree-granting graduate program.

Dissertation Credits

Prior to their comprehensive exam, it is recommended that students do not take more than ten (10) hours of dissertation credit so that the majority of their required dissertation credit hours are completed following their comprehensive exam. Following the comprehensive exam, students must register for a minimum of five (5) hours of dissertation credit in each Fall and Spring semester. If necessary, registration for other coursework can substitute for part of the required registration during the Fall and Spring semesters as long as the minimum of 5 hours is maintained. However, coursework credits will not apply toward the minimum requirement of 30 dissertation credit hours. Students may register for a maximum of ten (10) hours of dissertation credit in any one semester. Once a student has completed 30 dissertation credits, s/he needs to enroll for only one (1) credit in each Fall and Spring semester until a successful defense of his or her thesis (Students are required to check with their specific Programs, as many program require the student to continue to register for 5 credit hours until a successful defense of the dissertation).

Human Subjects

The Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) is responsible for reviewing and overseeing human subject research conducted at the University of Colorado Denver.

Legal requirements to protect human subjects apply to a much broader range than many researchers realize and applying the regulations is not always a straightforward process. In light of this difficulty and the potential consequences of noncompliance, researchers are advised to consult with the COMIRB when uncertain whether the activity is considered human subject research. 

Students contemplating the use of human subjects in their research (includes surveys, interviews, and/or any kind of information obtained by using humans as test subjects) must obtain approval from the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) before beginning such research.  A project involving humans, which has not been reviewed by the Committee, may be disallowed.  Please contact 303-724-1055 for more information.

Animal Subjects

Students doing research that uses animals in any form must have their research protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Links to the guidelines and forms are available on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee website.

Dissertation Preparation and Formatting

See the Electronic Thesis Dissertation submission process page for dissertation guidelines.

The purpose of these guidelines is to enable you to publish a completed dissertation that meets the criteria appropriate to a scholarly work, and is acceptable to both the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver and to the academic and professional communities at large.

Candidates preparing dissertations are strongly advised to read and follow the guidelines carefully. The purpose behind the specifications is to achieve a uniform and professional appearance.

Dissertation Defense

PhD dissertation defense committees include a minimum of four Graduate Faculty members. The PhD dissertation defense committee chair must be a regular member of the degree-granting program, and the other members must hold at least a special Graduate Faculty appointment. The student's dissertation advisor may not chair the examination committee.

The student must submit finalized draft copies of the thesis to the defense committee at least two weeks before the defense date; some programs may require an earlier deadline. The Request for Graduate Examination/Thesis Defense Form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense date. It is the student's responsibility to set the date and time of the defense, in consultation with his/her advisor.

  • Students must be registered when they defend the dissertation.
  • The Graduate School conducts the final review of dissertations for format.
  • The defense will be administered and evaluated by the student's dissertation committee, which files the record of the defense with the Graduate School.
  • The committee must unanimously approve the defense.
  • A student who fails the defense may defend again only once.
  • At the defense, the student may be asked to revise or add to the dissertation before it is approved. The revised dissertation is then submitted to the student's committee for final approval.
  • Once approved by the committee, the student has all committee members sign the Statement of Approval of the Thesis form to submit to the Graduate School. The student is authorized by this signed form to submit the dissertation electronically through the established procedure.

To obtain all needed forms, please visit the Graduate School Webpage.