PhD Timeline

Timeline for PhD Students

This Timeline for PhD Students provides a quick reference to the required steps and necessary forms for completing the degree as well as guidance on the expected rate of progress. Each step is discussed in greater detail on the applicable SAFS web pages; links are provided in the text below and on the left.

1. By end of 3rd quarter (usually spring of 1st year)

FORMING YOUR SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE: Complete the Request to Establish PhD Supervisory Committee form, the Use of Human and Animal Subjects form (i.e., 3rd page of the Committee form), and a brief narrative of your proposed research (typed, no more than a single page). The narrative should address the objective(s), approach, and significance of the research. After all Committee members sign the form, submit the paperwork to the SAFS Graduate Advisor. Note that email approvals from Committee members are acceptable, in lieu of actual signatures on the form. Please print and attach any email approvals before submitting it.

Prior to forming your Committee, you are strongly encouraged to email the names and affiliations of your proposed Committee members to the SAFS Graduate Advisor to ensure that the UW Graduate School and SAFS requirements for Committee composition will be met. PhD Supervisory Committees must have at least four members. Two must be SAFS faculty and the majority of all members must be from the UW Graduate Faculty (e.g., 3 of 4, 3 of 5, 4 of 6, etc.). Use the Graduate Faculty Locator to verify a faculty member’s status, or contact the SAFS Graduate Advisor.

If you are moving from the Master's to the Doctoral program, your PhD Supervisory Committee must be formally established.

2. Within 2 weeks of committee formation

FIRST COMMITTEE MEETING AND PLAN OF STUDY: To properly document your first PhD Supervisory Committee meeting, submit the Plan of Study toward the PhD Degree form. This outlines the courses you will be required to complete before graduation, recommended (i.e., not required) courses suggested by your committee, and your estimated milestone completion dates. Fill it out as best you can prior to the first Committee meeting, in consultation with your Major Professor, then obtain the signatures of all Committee members during the meeting. Return the completed form to the SAFS Graduate Advisor. (Email approvals from absent Committee members are acceptable, in lieu of actual signatures on the form. Please print and attach any email approvals before submitting it.)

If you are moving from the Master's to the Doctoral Program, you still must submit a Plan of Study toward the PhD Degree, which may include your MS courses but may also include new coursework, if your committee requires it.

3. By end of 6th quarter (usually winter of 2nd year)

QUALIFYING EXAM: This is a written exam required by the School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and administered over a maximum period of one calendar week by your Supervisory Committee. After the exam, your chair obtains evaluations from all Committee members and submits the Evaluation of the Qualifying Examination form and supporting documents to the SAFS Student Services Office.

The Qualifying Exam must be completed within 18 months of residency (e.g., if entering in September, by the end of the second Winter Quarter). Registration in at least 2 credits (e.g., Fish 800) is required when completing the exam.

4. Within 30 days of an unsatisfactory Qualifying Exam

REMEDIAL EXAMINATION: If the Qualifying Exam is unsatisfactory, a written Remedial Exam is administered by your Supervisory Committee within 30 days. Your Committee chair then submits the Evaluation of the Remedial Examination form to the SAFS Student Services Office. Registration in at least 2 credits (e.g., Fish 800) is required when completing the exam.

5. Within 24 months of residency (usually by end of the 2nd summer quarter)

DISSERTATION PROPOSAL: To document that your Doctoral Dissertation Proposal has been read and approved by your Supervisory Committee, submit the PhD Dissertation Proposal form and a copy of your approved proposal to the SAFS Student Services Office. (Email approvals from Committee members are acceptable, in lieu of actual signatures on the form. Please print and attach any email approvals before submitting it.) Refer to the Thesis and Dissertation Proposal page for formatting and content guidelines.

6. Within 27 months of residency, but no less than 4 months after committee is constituted

GENERAL EXAMINATION: This is an oral exam required by the UW Graduate School and SAFS, which is administered by your Supervisory Committee during a private exam session. The General Exam concentrates primarily on the subject area of your dissertation research and should proceed from the general to the specific. It is often viewed as an oral defense of your Dissertation Proposal. The Graduate School strongly recommends that the General Examination be held at least four months after your Supervisory Committee is constituted. You must complete the written Qualifying Exam and submit an approved Dissertation Proposal before your General Exam can be scheduled. After passing the General Exam, you are granted doctoral candidacy (PhC) status by the UW Graduate School.

Refer to the General Examination page of the SAFS web site for detailed information about scheduling and taking the exam. Registration in at least 2 credits (e.g., Fish 800) is required when you complete the exam.

7. Usually by end of 4th year, and well before completion of first dissertation draft

FORMING YOUR READING COMMITTEE: The Reading Committee is a subset of your Supervisory Committee, comprised of your Major Professor and at least two other members, who will read and approve your dissertation before the defense and submission. The full Supervisory Committee reads your dissertation prior to the defense, after the Reading Committee recommends that you move forward with scheduling the Final Exam.

You must submit the PhD Reading Committee Request to the SAFS Student Services Office, usually near the end of your fourth year and well before the first dissertation draft is completed. (Email approvals from Reading Committee members are acceptable on the form, in lieu of actual signatures. Please print and attach any email approvals before submitting it.)

Please refer to the Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Checklist for more information about formatting and submitting your dissertation.

8. Ideally during 5th year, but no later than 10 years

FINAL EXAMINATION: You must defend your doctoral dissertation during a Final Examination administered by your Supervisory Committee. It includes a public seminar component, about an hour long, during which you present your research findings. The seminar is then followed by a period of private questioning/examination by your Supervisory Committee. Refer to the Final Examination page of the SAFS web site for detailed information about scheduling and completing the exam.

Registration in at least 2 credits is required when you take the exam (i.e., defend) and when you submit the final dissertation to the Graduate School. When eligible, you may pay the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee to submit your dissertation within 14 days after the quarter in which you defended; registration is not required when the necessary conditions are met. Consult with the SAFS Graduate Advisor if you plan to use this option to ensure that you are eligible and comply with the relevant deadlines.

Please refer to the Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Checklist for more information about formatting and submitting your dissertation.

9. Dissertation Submission

The dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School by the end of the quarter in which the final exam is given or by the deadline specified in the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee, which is 14 days following the last day of the quarter in which all other degree requirements were met.

Degree Programs Home

For student service issues, contact safs@u.washington.edu
For browser issues, contact the webmaster