Doctoral Projects

Each department requiring a doctoral project shall clearly describe its policies in formal written statements to the student, their advisor, the project supervisor and/or committee chair and committee members, and the Office of Graduate Studies. 

In addition, each department and its respective college or school, through the student’s major advisor, project supervisor, or chairperson and committee members, shall be responsible for the content and quality of the student’s work and final project. Approval of the substance of the project shall rest solely with the advisor, or project supervisor, or chairperson and committee members. 

The Office of Graduate Studies shall be responsible for approving proper format and style of the final product. The academic unit shares preliminary responsibility for document preparation by the student through its published guidelines and through faculty advising. 

Doctoral Project Credit and Continuous Enrollment 

Doctoral project credit is typically built into the program of study, with project credit occurring as a result of completing a course or courses, or as a culminating or capstone experience in that program. In all cases, however, the same continuous enrollment policies apply to students enrolled in these programs as those enrolled in master’s or PhD programs. See Enrollment section.

Doctoral Committees 

A doctoral committee may be appointed for each student undertaking a project as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree. The purpose of the committee is twofold: (a) to provide the range of expertise necessary to advise a student in the conduct of the project or dissertation and (b) to ensure that evaluation of the project or dissertation represents a consensus of professionals in the student’s chosen discipline. 

The committee is charged with supervising and evaluating the project, a task that includes, but is not limited to, the following responsibilities: (a) advise the student on selection and/or development of a topic; (b) review and approve a proposal for the project; (c) provide consultation regarding progress on the project; (d) evaluate the final document; and (e) evaluate a public defense of the project.

In addition to the previously described responsibilities that are generic to all doctoral committee members, the chairperson of the committee assumes the following additional responsibilities: (a) in those programs where this responsibility is not discharged through other processes, advise the student regarding selection of doctoral committee members; (b) routinely monitor student progress on the project; (c) call committee meetings at least once each calendar year; (d) evaluate the readiness of the project proposal for committee review and action; and (e) inform the student of the need to adhere to University of the Incarnate Word policies, procedures, and document formatting instructions.

Resolution of Differences Within Committee Over Project Approval 

In cases where committee members differ over the approval of a doctoral project document and/or its public defense, it shall be the responsibility of the committee to undertake every reasonable effort to resolve these differences and come to a unanimous decision.

In case a student wishes to appeal a negative decision by the project committee, the student shall first take the appeal to this same committee, which shall hear the appeal and render a decision.

In cases of a negative, but non-unanimous, committee decision, and the student wishes to appeal, a review committee shall be established consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies, the appropriate academic dean, and the chairperson or director of the academic unit. The review committee shall seek to resolve the controversy without rendering a decision on the project. The review committee’s handling of such a case is limited to procedural actions, such as reconstituting the committee if the case merits it. 

Document Preparation

Students may not offer a doctoral project to the Office of Graduate Studies for review until it has been approved by the supervisor or committee, as indicated by signatures of the supervisor or of all committee members on the official approval forms.

Deadlines for Format Review

All doctoral projects must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for format review by the established deadline for the student’s desired graduation date.

  • October 1 for anticipated December degree conferral
  • March 1 for anticipated May degree conferral
  • July 1 for anticipated August degree conferral

Students should expect format review to take no less than three weeks.

Failure to meet these deadlines may result in delayed graduation.

Doctoral Project Clearance

A clearance form is required for doctoral projects; the completed form confirming the completion of all program and university requirements must be received by the Registrar’s Office by these dates:

  • November 1 for anticipated December degree conferral
  • April 1 for anticipated May degree conferral
  • August 1 for anticipated August degree conferral

Failure to meet these deadlines may result in delayed graduation.

The Athenaeum Repository

Final copies of doctoral projects are deposited in the University of the Incarnate Word's institutional repository of scholarly work, The Athenaeum, maintained by the university libraries. The submission of the doctoral project to the university in partial fulfillment of degree requirements grants the university the one-time, non-exclusive right to publish the doctoral project in The Athenaeum.

University and student rights regarding doctoral projects and publication are outlined below. 

University Rights 

The University of the Incarnate Word retains non-exclusive distribution, reproduction, and archival rights to doctoral projects submitted to the Faculty of the University of the Incarnate Word in partial fulfillment of requirements for a post-baccalaureate degree. Such rights entitle the University of the Incarnate Word to reproduce, archive, and distribute doctoral projects, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, as it sees fit. Distribution is subject to a release date stipulated by the student and approved by the university. 

Student Rights and Responsibilities

As the owner of the doctoral project copyright, students have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, make derivative works based on, publicly perform and display their work, and to authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights. As a condition of graduation, each student’s doctoral project must be published. As part of the process of submitting their work via The Athenaeum to the Office of Graduate Studies, students are given several options regarding access by others to their document. These options include:  

  1. No embargo—Immediate availability. The full text of the doctoral project will be immediately and freely available and searchable online via The Athenaeum.
  2. Embargo—Restrict online publication for a designated period. Students may place an embargo on electronic access to their document through The Athenaeum if there is legitimate reason to do so. Patents or future publication, for example, might be jeopardized by providing unrestricted access. Should a student elect to restrict online publication of his or her work, the metadata—a description of the research including the student’s name, the document’s title, the advisor’s name, and the abstract—will be available via The Athenaeum; however, the full document will be unavailable for viewing or download until the selected embargo period has passed. Embargoes may be set for 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years.
  3. Indefinite embargo—Restrict online publication indefinitely. Students may, in rare circumstances, place an indefinite embargo on access to their full document. In this case, the metadata—a description of the research including the student’s name, the document’s title, the advisor’s name, and the abstract—will be available via The Athenaeum, but the full document will be unavailable indefinitely. Indefinite embargoes require the written approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The indefinite embargo restriction can be lifted at the request of the author at a later date.

Related Links

Graduation Policies

Programs with doctoral projects: