Jul 18, 2024  
2022/2023 University Catalog 
2022/2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Requirements for Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral programs at San Diego State University are offered jointly with other doctoral-granting institutions in California. In developing each program, there has been a consistent effort to provide students with a unique educational experience that is not duplicated on either campus alone. The university currently offers 21 doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Ed.D., Au.D., D.P.T.).

The following Ph.D. and Au.D. programs are offered jointly by San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego:

Joint Ph.D. programs are offered in:

The general requirements in these programs are identical; however, each program has some specific requirements that will be found in Curricula by Department  under the program headings.

A doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership PreK-12 School Leadership or Community College Postsecondary Leadership is offered by San Diego State University, http://go.sdsu.edu/education/cclead/ or http://go.sdsu.edu/education/educational-leadership/. The specific requirements for this program will be found at Educational Leadership, PreK-12 School Leadership Concentration, Ed.D.  

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is offered by San Diego State University, http://ens.sdsu.edu/academic-programs/graduate/dpt/. The specific requirements for this program will be found at Physical Therapy, DPT  

The materials presented in the above referenced websites are for information only. The Graduate Bulletin embodies the official policies and curriculum pertaining to each of the doctoral programs.

Admission to Graduate Study

An applicant for admission to a doctoral program must be admitted to regular graduate standing at the appropriate campus of the University of California or the Claremont Graduate University, and to San Diego State University. Fees and regulations governing the doctoral programs are found in the SDSU Graduate Bulletin and in the graduate bulletin of each of the cooperating campuses. Formal admission to the universities with appropriate graduate standing occurs when the student is formally accepted by each of the universities. Applicants are advised to consult the appropriate program director at San Diego State University for specific details on application procedures.

Residence Requirements

After formal admission to a doctoral program, the student must spend at least one year in full-time residence on each of the two campuses. The definition of residence must be in accord with the regulations of the university cooperating with SDSU. At San Diego State University, the minimum of one year of full-time residence consists of registration in and completion of at least nine semester units of graduate level courses or six semester units of research or dissertation courses each semester of the required year’s residence. All doctoral students must be continually enrolled or pay a continuation fee at one campus or the other each semester or quarter in order to maintain good standing.

Financial Support

Ph.D. students are eligible to apply for financial aid through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at San Diego State University. The SDSU Research Foundation provides some scholarship funds to cover all or part of the fees and tuition required by each institution for students in many of the doctoral programs. These funds are partially derived from the Richard G. Ahrens Memorial Scholarship and Reuben C. Marks Endowment Funds. In addition, most programs offer doctoral students financial support by providing appointments as research assistants, graduate assistants, or graduate teaching associates.


Doctoral students are expected to make steady progress toward completion of requirements for the degree. The time required depends less on units of credit or semesters of attendance than it does on the mastery of the subject matter field and completion of a satisfactory dissertation. In doctoral programs with time limits to advancement to candidacy or the degree, students must meet those time limits or a hold will be placed on their registration. Doctoral students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all coursework attempted to remain in good standing. Some programs may have additional GPA requirements.

Information on records, transcripts, fees, details of registration, petitions, and rules and regulations governing graduate students enrolled in the doctoral program is available from each of the two cooperating institutions for each degree program.

Qualifying Examinations, Advancement to Candidacy, and the Dissertation

Although the procedural details of each doctoral program vary somewhat within the different programs, the general requirements are:

  1. The student is examined by a committee representing the faculty of the cooperating institutions for knowledge of the field of study. This qualifying examination ordinarily consists of both written and oral parts. The purpose of this examination is to satisfy the faculty of the cooperating departments that the student is adequately prepared in the discipline to warrant continuation in the program.
  2. After passing the qualifying examination the student applies to the graduate dean at the cooperating campus with which the student is associated for advancement to candidacy. After approval by both graduate deans, the student will be notified of advancement to candidacy by the graduate dean of the University of California campus or the Claremont Graduate University.
  3. A dissertation on a subject chosen by the candidate and approved by a committee appointed by the graduate deans of the cooperating institutions is required of every candidate. Approval of the dissertation by this committee affirms that the candidate has conducted an organized, independent investigation that has added significantly to the body of knowledge in the particular field and that has been reported in a satisfactory manner. Upon completion of the dissertation, the candidate must pass an oral examination conducted by a joint committee in which the student is required to show the relationship of the dissertation to the general field in which the subject lies and to answer specific questions concerning the investigations. In addition to meeting the requirements of the cooperating campus for filing the dissertation, doctoral students are required to submit a copy of the dissertation to Montezuma Publishing for submission to ProQuest. Students should contact the College of Graduate Studies prior to submitting the dissertation to Montezuma Publishing. Binding must meet the ALA library standard. Ed.D. students will deposit their dissertation with the thesis and dissertation review service at San Diego State University. Instead of a dissertation, a doctoral project is required for the Doctor of Audiology and the Doctor of Physical Therapy, and bound copies reside within the respective departments rather than with the library.
  4. San Diego State University requires that the student be enrolled in 899 (Dissertation or Doctoral Project) in the term in which the dissertation is turned in. Students in the Doctor of Audiology program, whose chair is at UCSD, enroll in doctoral project (AUD 299) at UCSD instead of 899 at SDSU. Students are also required to fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates at both SDSU and the cooperating campus at the time the dissertation is submitted.

Subject (Thesis/Dissertation) Research Involving Human Subjects or Animal Subjects

Committee authorization must be obtained in advance of conducting research involving humans or animals. Failure to observe this requirement could result in the refusal of the university to accept the completed thesis/dissertation.

Research in which information is obtained about an individual through the use of a survey, interview, observation or experimentation or which involves analysis of previously collected human tissues, records, samples or other existing or secondary data is subject to review and approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). For students enrolled in a joint doctoral program, IRB review may be required at each campus. Students are responsible for knowing and complying with IRB review requirements at the institution(s) in which they are enrolled. For general information, application procedures, guidance on ethical practices, and submission deadlines, visit http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/researchaffairs. You may also e-mail irb@sdsu.edu or call 619-594-6622.

Students planning to conduct research that involves the use of live, vertebrate animals must be listed on a protocol approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) where the research will take place. If the research will occur under a SDSU approved protocol, the student must be listed on the responsible faculty’s animal protocol form and receive required training. Application materials used to request a review by the IACUC can be obtained via the Internet at http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/researchaffairs.

Upon receipt of written authorization from the relevant committee, IRB or IACUC, students may initiate their research and register for required coursework.

Award of Degree

The degree Doctor of Philosophy in Biology, Chemistry, Clinical Psychology, Computational Science, Ecology, Education, Engineering Sciences (Bioengineering/Electrical and Computer/Mechanical and Aerospace/Structural), Evolutionary Biology, Geography, Geophysics, Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use, Language and Communicative Disorders, Mathematics and Science Education, Public Health, or the professional doctorate in Audiology will be awarded jointly by the regents or trustees of the cooperating institution and the trustees of The California State University in the names of San Diego State University and the appropriate cooperating university campus. The degrees of Doctor of Education in educational leadership and Doctor of Physical Therapy will be awarded by the trustees of The California State University. Students are encouraged to participate in the commencement ceremonies of both institutions providing they have completed all degree requirements, including the submission of copies of the approved dissertation by the deadlines of the respective institutions. The deadline dates of the cooperating institutions will vary. Students who intend to participate in the commencement ceremonies at San Diego State University should consult the academic calendar for the last date to submit an approved copy of the dissertation to the College of Graduate Studies. San Diego State University also requires that students apply for graduation in any term they intend to graduate. Consult the academic calendar for the deadline date.