When do you become a "doctoral candidate"?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by SE Texas Prof, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. SE Texas Prof

    SE Texas Prof Member


    I'm nearing the end of my coursework for my PhD in Leadership and I would like to recognize this occasion. I've seen some linkedin post and others where people are listing themselves as 'doctoral candidates'. I'm just wondering when the correct time would be to note yourself as a doctoral candidate. Some folks list doctoral candidate the moment they enter a doctoral program and other seem to wait a bit later.

    What is the correct timeframe to begin telling others you're a doctoral candidate in your respective areas?


    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    You are Ph.D/Doctorate Student during course works, and once you pass the comprehensive exam. Then you are now Ph.D/Doctorate candidate during your dissertation.
  3. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    . . . unless one's program doesn't administer a comprehensive exam. (They're not fashionable in all Ph.D. programs.) In some programs, it's when your dissertation proposal has been approved. In my program (Union), it was after the certification meeting - but that's under the old Union Graduate School model, which no longer exists.

    Best bet: So you don't jump the gun (which would leave you up the proverbial creek), ask your lead academic advisor or the chair of your doctoral committee (in other words, your head honchperson) so you don't call yourself a "candidate" prematurely. Find out directly what the protocol is for your doctoral program.
  4. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Many schools use the phrase, "Advancing to candidacy" (or something equivalent); others do not. So . . what Steve said.

    In my wife's case (Vanderbilt) it was a formal process after passing four 36-hour exams, given two to four weeks apart. In mine (Michigan State) it was when my committee was all on board and I'd passed a 3-hour candidacy exam plus the required two foreign language exams.

    Just for the record, the Vanderbilt process in philosophy was very strange and, I think, unique. The student would come into the chair's office at high noon and be given a sheet with six exam question. They would then roll a ceremonial die. Whichever number came up (you could reject a number once), they then had 36 hours to produce a 20-page paper on that topic, to be slid under the chair's door at midnight the next day.* The topics ranged from having to read and critique a long and complex paper, to my favorite, "How do you know that you are not a brain in a bucket." Different set of six questions each of four times.
    *It was rumored but not confirmed that the chair was lurking behind the door at midnight.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2017
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    The "Brain in a bucket" question is a classic. It's popularity as a test question stems from the fact that an adequate answer draws upon knowledge of many aspects of philosophy.

  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I assume you'll fail if you just admit that you don't?
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    If you can adequately explain your answer . . .

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