Ph.D. time limitation and extension

Students have a seven-year time limit to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. To allow a student to continue in the Ph.D. program past the seven-year time limit, the department must request a time extension from the Graduate School no later than six months following the student's time limit expiration. The time extension request must be used to transmit the request. A student who has reached the time limit and does not submit a time extension request within six month period will be regarded by the Graduate School as terminated from the program. Approval of a time extension beyond the 10-year mark requires revalidation of credentials through retaking of the written Qualifying Examination in the major area. Additional coursework may be required by the program for revalidation. The total time for earning the Ph.D., including all time extensions and any required revalidation, is 12 years.


Time-to-degree is a national issue in graduate education. The Graduate School concurs with the statement by the Graduate Council at UCLA, summarizing the impact of lengthy times to a degree:

Overly long times-to-degree are costly to students and the University, decrease the influx of new ideas that come with new students, reduce the productive work-life of holders of advanced degrees, diminish the capacity to meet anticipated faculty renewal needs, make it more difficult to diversify our graduate students and ultimately our faculty, and surely discourage some undergraduates from even considering graduate study.  Within limits, a shorter time-to-degree is neither synonymous with high quality graduate education nor antithetical to it.  However, timely progress is a sign of intellectual vigor, competence, and commitment.

Requesting a time extension

To be considered for a time extension, the student must:

  1. Have a completed and approved prospectus
  2. Provide compelling evidence that the dissertation is in progress
  3. Outline a plan and timeline for completion of the dissertation
  4. Include an explanation of how the student has remained current in their field

The time extension request must also include:

  1. Endorsement by the student's advisor and dissertation committee
  2. Departmental approval from the departmental graduate director
  3. A copy of the most recent Annual Review/Individual Development Plan

The length of time extensions will be handled on a case-by-case basis, justified by the timeline. During the extension, the student must meet with the advisor on a regular basis, and documentation of the meetings must be maintained.

Appeal process

If the advisor, dissertation committee or graduate director does not approve an extension, the student has the right to appeal the decision. If the advisor or dissertation committee does not approve the request, the student may appeal to the graduate director, who will meet with the graduate committee to respond to the appeal. If the graduate committee does not approve the request, the student may appeal to the Graduate School. If the Graduate School does not approve the request, the student may appeal to the Provost.