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Department of Educational Administration

Ph.D. in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education

Program Procedures


Upon admission to the HALE doctoral degree program, students are assigned a faculty member who serves as their initial academic advisor (temporary). The student has the right to change academic advisors and should seek the support of the Program Director or the Department Chair if this move is difficult.

Newly admitted students should contact their academic advisor as soon as possible. They should arrange for a personal conference with their advisor to develop a program plan within the first three semesters of his/her matriculation. If the student does not do so, there is no guarantee that credit hours earned prior to the conference will be applicable to the degree. Copies of the program plan will be provided to the student, the academic advisor, and the Student Affairs Office in the College of Education. The HALE program faculty follow the recommendations provided in Guidelines for Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Relationships.

Guidance Committee

Each graduate student admitted to the HALE doctoral program has the responsibility to form a guidance committee with the approval of the advisor. The guidance committee will consist of at least four Michigan State University tenure stream faculty members. The chair of the committee must be a HALE faculty member. In consultation with the student, the guidance committee plans the entire program, and thereafter supervises it, making modifications as needed until the degree is completed.

The guidance committee should be formed within the first three semesters of doctoral study. Within one semester after the committee has met, the chairperson of the guidance committee will file a Report of the Guidance Committee. This guidance committee report, as changed or amended in full consultation between the graduate student and the committee and approved by the appropriate department chairperson and the Dean of the College, shall be regarded as the statement of program requirements.

Any desired or required changes in the membership of the guidance committee may be made by the student with the concurrence of all the committee members, unit chairperson or director or designated representative, or by the unit with the concurrence of the graduate student in accordance with University, college, and unit policy.

The guidance committee is responsible for insuring the adequacy of the overall program, in keeping with the general policy that three or more academic years of study and research beyond the master's degree are required.

The Report of the Guidance Committee (program plan) and Guidance Committe membership are completed through GradPlan.

GradPlan:  Committee Membership and Ph.D. Degree Plan

GradPlan was developed for Ph.D. students to lay out their Ph.D. program of study, record faculty approval, and make notes on all the degree requirements as they are completed.

GradPlan will be the only way final degree certification/degree audit will be conducted beginning in Spring 2017. GradPlan replaces the Report of the Guidance Committee, Record of Comprehensive Exam, and the Dissertation Final Defense form and the final certification form.

  • Following approval by a department or college level designee, the Graduate School will certify the acceptance of each dissertation final format.
  • The Office of the Registrar and departments will complete degree certification once a student completes an application for graduation and all degree requirements are met.


The GradPlan help guides are available at:

Doctoral guidance committees should be formed at the end of the first year or beginning of the second year. The Committee must have at least four regular (tenure stream) MSU faculty or approved (by Graduate School) non-tenured (i.e., temporary/fixed-term) faculty. The Ph.D. Degree Plan should typically be filed early in the second year of the Ph.D. program. Please use the link below to enter GradPlan to form both your guidance committee and your Ph.D. Degree Plan.

Note that CEP 930, CEP 932, EAD 995, and the qualitiative methodology course must be labeled as Research Requirement applied in the program plan.


Visit the GradPlan login.

Annual Review of Student Progress

Written evaluations shall be communicated to the graduate student at least once a year, and a copy of such evaluations shall be placed in the graduate student's file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the Department of Educational Administration.

The academic advisor and academic unit are jointly responsible for evaluating the student's competency (as indicated by, e.g., grades in core and other courses, portfolio development, and development of professional skills) and rate of progress (as indicated by, e.g., the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred). See program form: Annual Progress to Degree.


A 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in the degree program is the minimum University standard. However, attainment of the minimum grade-point average is in itself an insufficient indicator of potential for success in other aspects of the program and the field. The grading system is as follows: 4.0, superior; 3.5, excellent; 3.0, good; 2.5, fair; 2.0 poor; 0/1.0/1.5, failure and in specific courses, P-N (Pass- No Grade). Once grades have been submitted in to the registrar's office, they may only be changed by the course instructor through written application.


Students whose cumulative grade-point average falls below a 3.0 will be placed on academic probation the following semester. The student will work with her/his academic advisor to be restored to good standing. Students on academic probation should regularly meet with the academic advisor. Students shall have the right to appeal in accordance with the GSSR guidelines.

Incomplete or Deferred Grades

A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition their instructor for the grade of Incomplete (I) or Deferred (DF). A form for this request must be completed by the instructor of the course and contain all information requested, including a description of the work the student will complete and the due date, which cannot be later than the date specified in the academic calendar. The form must be signed by the student, instructor, and department chair (or designee). The last day to request an incomplete and submit the form is indicated in the academic calendar. The grade of I or DF shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.

A grade of "I" or incomplete may be given after a student has satisfactorily completed 12 weeks of the course but is unable to complete the work within the allotted time period because of "illness or other compelling reason," and the professor believes that the student can complete the work without repeating the course. The required work must be completed, and a grade must be reported to the Office of the Registrar, no later than the middle of the student's next semester in attendance (summer session excluded) if that semester is within one calendar year following receipt of the I-Incomplete.

A grade of "DF" or Deferred may be given only to graduate students who are doing satisfactory work but cannot complete it because of reasons acceptable to the instructor. Deferred grades need to be resolved within two years, although the instructor may stipulate a shorter time frame. The required work must be completed and a grade reported within six months (190 calendar days from the last class day of the term of instruction), with the option of a single six-month extension (190 calendar days).

Responsible Conduct of Research (

Michigan State University requires that all graduate students be trained in the responsible conduct of research as part of their educational experience. All HALE doctoral students are required to complete five hours of training in the first year, and three hours of training in each subsequent year. The components of the training may be a mixture of on-line and face-to-face educational experiences and include the following topics:


Initial Training Year 1

Refresher Training Annually, after Year 1

Required Hours

5 hours

3 hours

Training Components

Human Research Protection Program (2 hours)

Conflict of Interest (30 minutes)

Authorship Issues and Data Issues (1 hour)

Additional Discussion of Issues Related to Responsible Conduct of Education Research (90 minutes)

Complete the required recertification for human research protection (~1-2 hours)

Additional Discussion of Issues Related to Responsible Conduct of Education Research

Participate in one of the workshops described under initial certification

Each student is expected to enter the relevant information regarding the completion of this training into the Research Training Tracking System (RTTS). Documentation should be completed by May 15 of each year.

To support the Responsible Conduct of Research training requirements, the following resources are available.  Students should consult with their academic adviser and/or research supervisor to determine the appropriate training topics.

Click here to view a PowerPoint presentation on the HALE Ph.D. RCR Requirements

Research Training Tracking System:

Human Research Protection Program modules:

Workshops offered by the graduate school:

Powerpoint resources through the graduate school:

Student Instructions to Document Responsible Conduct of Research

In order to satisfy federal regulations, all MSU graduate students are required to complete training related to research ethics and the protection of human subjects.  Documentation of the training is managed through the RTTS (Research Training Tracking System) maintained by the College of Engineering.

Students are responsible for documenting completion of training.  Documentation should occur by May 15 of each year.

General Instructions:

1.  Go to the following URL:

2.  Enter your MSUNET ID and password

3.  Confirm your account OR click on ?Create/Edit Trainee Account?

4.  Enter the MSUNetID of your academic adviser (or faculty supervisor if you are completing RCR training as a research assistant)

5.  From the ?Training Description? dropdown menu select the appropriate choice.  If you select ?Other?, indicate the training topics in the ?Notes? field

6.  Enter the number of hours

7.  Enter the training date

8.  To add additional training, log in to your account; click ?Create/Edit Trainee Account? and add the appropriate information

9.  Click Save

The Dissertation

Several student-initiated forms related to the dissertation are available from the College of Education website ( These include:

  • Dissertation Director Approval
  • Dissertation Proposal Approval
  • Notice of Doctoral Dissertation Oral Examination

Dissertation Committee

Dissertation committees consist of four tenure stream faculty members. Two members of the committee, including the chair, are HALE faculty. One member is from a different unit. The fourth committee member is either from HALE or another unit. Upon identification of committee members, the student must submit the Dissertation Director Approval/Dissertation Committee Approval form for unit and departmental approval, before it is officially filed with the SAO.

Changes in the membership of the dissertation committee, including change of dissertation chair, may be initiated by the student with concurrence of the department chairperson and acknowledgement of committee members by filing a new Dissertation Director Approval/ Dissertation Committee Approval form.

Dissertation Proposal

A dissertation proposal is prepared by the student with the dissertation director and with approval of the director submitted to each member of the guidance committee prior to a meeting called to review and examine the proposal. At least 3 members of the committee need to be present at the proposal meeting and an approved proposal requires signatures from all committee members before the student is authorized to proceed with the research. The Dissertation Proposal Approval form must be signed by the guidance committee members and filed with the HALE program secretary.

It is necessary to obtain institutional review and approval through the University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) prior to initiating any research involving the use of human or animal or hazardous materials.

Dissertation Defense

After the dissertation director indicates that the dissertation is acceptable for examination, the student will distribute hard copies of the dissertation and abstract to the dissertation director, other guidance committee members, and, if necessary, to any appointed examiner. Dissertation defenses can be scheduled throughout the term, unless the unit sets more limited restrictions. However, the term of official degree completion concludes with the submission of revised copy of the dissertation approved by the guidance committee to the Graduate School.

Final Oral Defense

The final oral defense of the dissertation is conducted and evaluated by the guidance committee and, at the discretion of the dean of the college, by one appointed faculty member whose voting status is determined by the college. Other interested faculty members may attend the examination without vote. The dissertation and the student's performance on the final oral defense must be approved by at least three-fourths of the voting examiners and with not more than one dissenting vote from among the regular faculty members of the guidance committee.

The final oral defense must be scheduled for a date not earlier than two weeks after the dissertation and abstract have been submitted to the chairperson of the guidance committee, other guidance committee members, and any appointed examiner. The student must be enrolled during the semester in which the final oral examination is taken.

Oral defenses are open to other graduate students. An announcement of the final oral defense is publicly posted after the student voluntarily completes the Notice of the Document Dissertation One Exam Form (URL) and submits it to the Student Affairs Office.

Submitting your Dissertation

Following the successful defense of the dissertation, students must submit an electronic copy of the completed dissertation to the Graduate School. Instructions for Thesis and Dissertation Electronic Submissions are available at