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Department of English
PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication

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Policies and General Requirements

This page provides information about residency and credit hour requirements, time for completion, progress milestones, and managing the work load, including policy on incompletes.

Residency and Credit Hour Requirements

As a doctoral student, you must complete at least 80% of the required degree credit for your program (i.e., 48 s. h.) through enrollment in courses offered by East Carolina University. Thus, courses offered as face-to-face or web-based may count toward residency. However, for this doctoral program, some portion of your coursework must be completed face-to-face.

The Ph.D. degree requires satisfactory completion of at least 60 credit hours beyond the master's degree. As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the Graduate School requires you to complete 80% of the required degree credit for your program through enrollment in courses offered by ECU. Thus, you can complete up to 12 s. h. (20%) at another institution. All transferred courses, whether taken before being admitted or while working toward your degree, must be approved by the Graduate School. Normally, courses can transfer if the courses are graduate level, offered by a unit that grants a doctoral degree, and within the allowed length of time the semester that you complete your degree. See "Transfer Credits" in the ECU Graduate Catalog for the official policy concerning transfer credit.  

It is important that you consult with your mentor/ Dissertation Committee chair, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies, before you complete courses outside of ECU.

See "Time for Completion" about length of time courses can count toward your degree whether they are taken at ECU or another university. The ECU Graduate Catalog, which can be accessed from the ECU website, is the final authority in defining residency.

Time for Completion

You must complete the degree requirements within seven years of your admission into the program. With the endorsement of your committee and the department's Director of Graduate Studies, you may request one extension of not more than two semesters. The ECU Graduate Catalog, which can be accessed from the ECU website, is final authority.

For guidelines concerning time limits about financial support, see "Financial Support" in the PhD Handbook and consult with the Director of Graduate Studies if you have questions.

If you earn 60 s. h. (the credit hours required for the Ph.D. in Technical and Professional Discourse), but you have not completed all of the degree requirements (e.g. exams and/or dissertation), you must be continuously enrolled. You must register each semester, but not during summers, until you complete all degree requirements.

Consult with the Graduate Director to determine whether you can receive credit for courses that have been completed 7 to 10 years before the semester that you graduate.

Progress Milestones. Once admitted, you should use the Degree Checklist and Progress Timetable forms to help you plan your advancement through the Ph.D. program. These documents list requirements and accomplishments by which your progress will be evaluated through a typical full-time plan of study of eight semesters (four years). If you are completing your degree based on either accelerated or part-time study, you should consult your faculty mentor or the Director of Graduate Studies.