PhD Checklists

Key Steps, Deadlines, and Forms

Action Deadline Signatures Copies
Complete graduate advising with advisors for registration every semester advisor, advising comm D***
Complete add/drop of classes consult advisor if after drop/add week grad, advisor D
First Years (before scheduling preliminary exam)
Select research advisor first summer–2nd year
Pass qualifying exam by 4th semester
Submit Request for Transfer of Graduate Credit varies by semester;
approval before Plan of Study
none GS, D
Submit Outline of PhD Program (Plan of Study) (The final version of this form must be submitted electronically, initiated by the dept office) by semester of 30 earned hours advisor, chair or grad dir D, (GS)
Preliminary Exam & Advancement to Candidacy
Take prelim exam:

  • Approval of prelim committee
    (advisor not on comm)
  • Prelim report (comm chair to chair and grad director)
    report whether passed or not (2 attempts)
  • Department (usually graduate director) must submit corresponding form to grad school called the “Comprehensive and Proficiency Exam form”.
by end of 7th semester,
after core courses completed
grad, comm, chair; prelim report signed by comm chair DD
Apply for Master’s degree en route:

  • Email grad school to request addition of MS program (see below*)
  • Application for Degree (through myBama**)
immediately after prelim passed
grad, chair or grad dir; Application for Degree signed by chair GS,DGS,D
Complete the  online procedure to appoint your dissertation committee from the graduate school’s student portal.

(Note that the chair of your prelim committee is NOT the co-chair of your dissertation committee.  The dissertation committee co-chair is for what would usually be considered a “co-advisor” or when the primary advisor is in another department.)

start of sem after prelim passed comm, chair or grad dir GS,D
Submit Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree
(after prelim and coursework complete, may be submitted before or after doctoral committee form)  (please fill out this form and submit it to the physics office to initiate the electronic process)****
soon after prelim passed, not after
1st week of graduating sem (date)
grad, comm 4GS,D
Candidates (before scheduling defense)
Enroll in at least 3 hours per semester
of PH 699: Dissertation Research
every semester after prelim
Meet with dissertation committee annually after prelim passed
(comm can request more freq)
Dissertation Defense, Submission & Graduation
Submit application for degree (through myBama*) 1st week of graduating sem (date)
Schedule dissertation defense >10 weeks before graduation
Submit dissertation to committee >2 weeks before defense
Announce defense: Submit the public notice of dissertation defense form available in the graduate school’s student portal with information about your defense.  That will be forwarded to the department and should contain the title, time, and location of your defense along with an abstract.  It is best to follow up with the physics office to ensure the announcement is sent out to the department appropriately.  (Once processed your defense will appear on the graduate school-wide schedule.) >2 weeks before defense D, GS
Complete dissertation defense and submit information for defense electronic approval process to the department office (committee members, date of defense, and concurrence or dissent with decision for each member)**** >8 weeks before grad  D, GS
Submit information for dissertation approval electronic form to department office (example “offline” form showing needed information)**** after dissertation defense,
>6 weeks before graduation
1) comm, chair or grad dir
2) after revision: grad, comm chair
Submit approved dissertation to grad school,

see submission process and preparation manual

6 weeks before graduation (date)
Pay diploma fee to Office of Student Receivables 1 month before graduation


* Email or call the UA graduate school to notify them that you are picking up an MS degree on the way to PhD and need to add the MS degree program as a secondary program in order to do so;  After following the graduate school’s instructions, which may require other steps, having the degree program on your UA record will make it possible to apply to graduate (receiving your MS degree but continuing in the PhD program), the next step.  (Note that you should not have to pay any application fees or submit any materials or letters.  If you are required to submit a statement of purpose, it can just consist of the statement “I am receiving a MS en route to PhD.”)

** After notifying Grad School that you are picking up MS on the way to PhD, apply for MS degree through myBama: myBama > Student tab > Student Services > Student Records > Apply to graduate

*** D = department; GS = Graduate School