Program Requirements


Candidates for the Ph.D. degree will complete at least 15 courses. The total number of credits for each student is determined by his or her guidance committee using the following general guidelines and requirements:

  • 2 Proseminar courses (TE 901 and TE 902) taken during the first year
  • At least five doctoral courses about educational inquiry and research, including:
    1. CEP 930 (introduction to educational inquiry)
    2. CEP 932 or TE 934 (a doctoral course in quantitative methodology)
    3. TE 931 or TE 939A, TE 939B, TE 939C, TE 939D, TE 939E, TE 939F, TE 939G (a doctoral course in qualitative methodology)
    4. One course in advanced methodology (e.g., CEP 933, TE 939A, TE 939B, TE 939C, TE 939D, TE 939E, TE 939F, TE 939G) that must be approved by the guidance committee in advance
    5. TE995 (a research practicum to be undertaken after research courses 1, 2, and 3 have been completed).
  • At least three selective core courses offered by the Department of Teacher Education that are selected to contribute to the breadth of one’s understanding of educational issues. Selective courses include all doctoral level courses offered by the department other than TE 901, TE 902, TE 990, TE 994 (except for section 01), TE 995, and courses taken to fulfill one’s research requirements.
  • At least five additional elective courses that form an area of concentration. These may include courses offered by the Department of Teacher Education, by other departments in the College of Education, or by units across campus. The student’s guidance committee must approve both the area and the related courses.
  • Successful completion and defense of the dissertation. Students must earn at least 24, but no more than 30, dissertation credits (TE 999). 

The university’s residency requirement — defined as enrolling in six credits of coursework in two consecutive semesters — must also be met. (Residency does not necessarily mean that a student spends full time on campus, although the program strongly encourages them to do so)


As part of the college requirement in inquiry and research, every doctoral student must complete a research practicum. The practicum should occur after completing the first two requirements in the research experience (i.e. the inquiry course, the methodology course), and preferably prior to comprehensive examinations. The practicum generally results in a journal length research paper that is presented orally and in written form to the Practicum Committee. Students enroll in TE 995 credits when completing their practicum research study. The research practicum support students in learning to:

  • Propose a significant question or questions grounded in existing theory and building on or responding to other research in a field of interest;
  • Select, justify, and implement methods appropriate to the question(s) and research context;
  • Gather appropriate evidence/data;
  • Subject the evidence/data to careful analysis;
  • Reassess prior assumptions and conceptualizations in relation to evidence/data gathered and ongoing analysis;
  • Organize and present oral and written reports, that are cogent, focused, and logical, for a community of scholars;
  • Respond to input and critiques, and provide advice and comments for others’ research; and
  • Revise the written report in response to feedback.

Practicum Committee

The practicum requires a practicum committee. It is the student’s responsibility to construct this committee. The student could form this practicum committee from an already existing group or by creating one that is specific to the practicum. It must include at least one student, who has already completed the practicum, and at least two tenure-stream faculty members to direct the work. One faculty member of the practicum committee must be designated as the practicum director.

Approval of the Practicum Proposal

A written proposal must be approved by the student’s practicum committee and (in the event that the chair of the student’s guidance committee is not part of the practicum committee, also by) the chair of the student’s guidance committee. The written proposal should include: (1) a rationale for the study, including a brief literature review; (2) research question(s) or purpose(s); (3) methodology and method, including plans for data analysis and (4) a brief discussion of educational significance. The student should obtain approval of the practicum proposal and, if applicable, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to beginning the practicum study.

Completion of the Practicum

All members of the committee must approve the written and oral reports. The practicum director is responsible for approval of the final revisions. The practicum director also assigns a Pass/No Pass grade.

Program Plan

The student, advisor/chair and guidance committee share responsibility for planning a program of coursework that both provides the student with appropriate academic knowledge and scholarly perspectives and skills, and satisfies the program’s curricular requirements.

Typically, program plans are submitted before the end of the second year of study—or at a point before the student has completed more than half of the 15 courses in his or her program. This is done electronically through GradPlan.

The GradPlan is always subject to future additions, deletions or substitutions, as long as the revisions satisfy program requirements. Please note that the earliest course on the plan can be no more than eight years older than the oldest course on the plan; all courses, therefore, must be taken within an eight-year period of time

The plan should be organized to conform to the requirements of the program:

Core Proseminar sequence

  1. TE 901
  2. TE 902

Research Requirements

  1. CEP 930
  2. CEP 932 or TE 934
  3. One of the following: TE931, TE939A, B, C, D, E, F, or G
  4. A 3 or 4 credit course in advanced methodology approved by the guidance committee
  5. Research Practicum – TE 995

The department highly recommends that all doctoral students take TE 931 and TE 934 either as part of the above or in addition to it.

Core Studies in Education

Three TE courses (meaning TE is the sole or lead department for the course) numbered 903 – 991 excluding the following: TE 930, TE 931, TE 934, TE 939, TE 990, TE 994 (except for TE 994 section 001) and TE 995.

Area of Concentration

At least five additional courses in the student’s area of concentration.

For assistance with your GradPlan please see the GradPlan Planning Sheet.

College General Liberal Education Requirement

To meet the college’s general liberal education requirement, students must demonstrate they have basic knowledge in at least four of the following areas of general professional education:

  1. administration
  2. curriculum
  3. psychological foundations
  4. research and evaluation methods
  5. social, philosophical and historical foundations
  6. motor development and motor learning
  7. biological foundations
  8. ethical considerations
  9. issues of diversity in education.

Area 4 and area 5 are addressed by the required department proseminars and by the required research methods sequence, thus students must demonstrate they have basic knowledge in two of the other areas listed. This can come from in or outside of the Department of Teacher Education. The student should write a memo to accompany his/her program plan that explains how his/her program provides basic knowledge in two of the other areas listed. The guidance committee will determine whether the program adequately addresses the two areas the student specifies. If the program does not, the committee will provide suggestions to the student regarding how the student can meet the requirement and the student will revise the program plan and accompanying memo until the guidance committee is satisfied that the college’s general liberal requirement is met.

Comprehensive Exams

After submitting the GradPlan and completing the majority of coursework (approximately 80 percent) the next milestone in a student’s progress toward the degree is the comprehensive examination. Students typically take the examination toward the end of their third year of doctoral study. Because the university requires that all requirements for the degree be completed within eight years from the date of initial program enrollment, the examination should be taken no later than the end of the fifth year in the program.

The comprehensive examination wiki has information about the different options.

The Dissertation

After the student has passed the comprehensive examinations, he or she draws upon prior and ongoing work to formulate a dissertation proposal. Students customarily work with their advisors and appropriate other faculty in drafting and revising their proposals before submitting a formal version to their dissertation committee for review and recommendations.

The guidance committee will meet formally to discuss the proposal, ask questions, and evaluate the proposed project in terms of its quality, originality, scope, and appropriateness. The guidance committee may accept the proposal, ask for revisions, or, in rare cases, turn the proposal back to the student for considerable rethinking and rewriting (and another proposal meeting). Three committee members must be present for the proposal meeting to be valid. When they approve the proposal, the committee members sign the appropriate form and forward it to the Ph.D. coordinator, who will file it with the Department Chair and Student Affairs Office.

Depending on the substance and methodology, some dissertation projects will require human subjects clearance from the university. A student’s advisor usually helps with the preparation of the IRB application. Students may not serve as Primary Investigators (PIs) of their dissertation research, and typically the dissertation director serves as the PI and the student is designated as a Secondary Investigator.

Before completing the dissertation, students must have registered for at least 24 semester credits of TE 999 (Dissertation Research). Once the dissertation is complete, the student and committee schedule a final oral examination (often called the dissertation defense) at a mutually acceptable time. Students should consult with their advisor and guidance committee to follow protocol and guidelines regarding timeframe and timeline for submitting the dissertation draft to the committee. The University Calendar specifies a series of dates each semester that should be consulted when scheduling the examination, completing revisions, and submitting the final copies of the dissertation.

After the dissertation has been successfully defended, the student must secure the signatures of all committee members on the Record of Completion of Requirements for Advanced Graduate Studies. In this case, the chair can sign for that committee member in absentia. A committee member who wishes to dissent from the majority decision on the dissertation’s oral defense must submit a statement explaining his or her reasons to the dean of the college.

After the final revisions are complete, the student should follow university guidelines regarding the production of the dissertation. The Graduate School provides forms and guidelines pertinent to producing the dissertation, copywriting the thesis, submitting the product to University Microfilm, and other technical matters. See the MSU Graduate School Guide to Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.

Publication of Dissertation

It is a university requirement that all dissertations are the required deposit with University Microfilms (UMI). It is the hope of the department that all dissertations lead to published articles, monographs or books. Although dissertation research is unambiguously the intellectual property of the student, the expectation is that authorship of subsequent publications will reflect who contributed to the paper (consistent with professional expectations and ethics in the field of educational research). Thus, in cases in which faculty and students worked very closely on the work, publications might include their names as co-authors.

Final Certification

After the oral examination (defense) of the dissertation has been passed, the final certification form is completed and then sent to the Student Affairs Office. These forms certify that the student has completed all courses listed on the program plan; has enrolled for at least 24 dissertation credits; has fulfilled the residency requirement; has completed a dissertation and has passed an oral examination based primarily on the dissertation; has completed all requirements within eight (8) years of admission to the doctoral program (or has appropriate extensions on file) and has a grade point average of no less than 3.0 in graduate courses taken at MSU.