Program and Degree Policies

The department abides by the established student advisement, candidacy, continuous registration, readmission, degree conferral timetable, qualifying exams, thesis dissertation and placement policies.

Student Advisement Policy

Advisors assist students in developing programs of study that meet individual interests while satisfying degree requirements. All students shall have a primary advisor and may also have an adjunct advisor. The degree program and/or academic concentration to which the student has been admitted will assign an initial academic advisor. Students are responsible for securing their permanent academic advisor as well as their adjunct advisor. No student shall be without a primary academic advisor longer than one semester. If no member of the faculty or a person acceptable to the faculty within the student's degree program or area of concentration is willing to serve as primary academic advisor, the matter will be referred to the Academic Standards Committee for resolution.

Normally, a student's academic advisor is a faculty member of the degree program to which the student has been admitted. Students pursuing EDA degrees, for example, are usually supervised by faculty in Educational Administration. Similarly, SPF students are supervised by SPF faculty in the concentration to which the student has been admitted.

Students wishing to change primary advisors within the degree programs or concentrations to which they have been admitted may do so upon written consent of both advisors, signed by them and filed with the Department chair. Forms are available in the Department Office.

If a student seeks, for any reason, to have an advisor who is not a faculty member within his/her degree program (for example, a student whose concentration in SPF is Comparative Education might seek to have an advisor in the Political Science Department, or an EDA PhD student might opt for supervision by a SPF faculty member), he or she shall petition the faculty of his/her degree program. The petition shall (a) state the reason(s) why the student seeks to have an advisor outside his/her degree program, and (b) name the prospective advisor and state why he or she is appropriate. In any informal discussion with the prospective advisor prior to action on the petition, the student shall emphasize that program reasons may preclude the arrangement under consideration. Only after the petition has been approved both by the faculty of the student's degree program and by the Department Chair, shall the student formally approach the person named in the petition to secure a signed statement by him or her agreeing to supervise the student's academic work. Said statement shall be filed with the Department Chair. Forms are available in the Department Office.


A student becomes a candidate for a degree once his or her Application to Candidacy form (a formal listing of courses and research to be completed to satisfy the requirements of a degree or diploma) is officially approved. For the MEd degree, this must occur at least one semester prior to graduation; for the PhD and EdD degrees, candidacy must be achieved at least two semesters prior to graduation. Students are encouraged to seek candidacy as early in their program of study as possible.

The statement of program should be developed by the student in consultation with his/her advisor and typed on the appropriate forms which can be obtained from the Department Office. Completed forms should be left with the student's advisor who will initiate the review process. All degree programs must be approved by the major advisor, the area, the Department Chair, and the GSE Graduate Degrees Committee. PhD programs must also be approved by the Graduate School. Certification (SEA) programs are approved by the EDA area only.

Candidacy is but the first step in reaching the degree objectives. Table 1 reports other steps which must be taken and the latest date when they can be taken.

Continuous Registration

Once admitted to the Graduate School of Education, a graduate student is required to maintain continuous registration. If such registration should be impossible, the student must petition for a leave of absence.


If a student fails to maintain continuous registration each semester (fall and spring) and does not petition for and receive a leave of absence, his/her student status is automatically terminated by the University.

In order to request reinstatement to the department, a student must complete a "Readmission Form," pay a $350 fee, and have the form signed by his/her advisor. If the advisor has left University service or is unwilling to sign the form, the request goes before the regular admissions review for a final decision. The Educational Leadership and Policy Department reserves the right to deny any request for readmission to its programs.

Degree conferral timetable for receipt of paperwork

It is the responsibility of the student to check with the Office for Graduate Education (716-645-2939) and the Office of Records and Registration (716-829-2361) prior to the deadline dates to be sure all the requirements and paper work for his/her degree have been completed.

Dates are subject to change. It is advisable to check with the appropriate office one semester prior to the deadline date listed for up-to-date information.

Qualifying Exams

Educational Administration

Educational Culture, Policy and Society

Higher Education

The Thesis or Dissertation

Master's Degrees

Master's students may write a thesis but are not required to do so. More typically, master's students complete their degrees through an examination. Students choosing to write a thesis should consult their advisor for procedures.

Doctoral Degrees

The following procedures regarding the dissertation are required by the Graduate School for all PhD students. EdD students follow similar procedures but the procedures are monitored by the Graduate School of Education.

After passing the comprehensive doctoral examinations in the case of SPF and Higher Education students or the Research Qualifying Paper in the case of EDA students, the student prepares a dissertation proposal with the assistance of a three-member dissertation committee. The dissertation committee consists of a major advisor (who may but need not be the same as the initial advisor) and an adjunct advisor chosen for the contributions he/she will make toward the dissertation research. The major advisor will normally be in the student's major concentration, and both advisors are normally members of the area faculty from which the student is getting his/her degree (i.e. EDA or SPF). A third committee member with appropriate qualifications will be selected from inside or outside the Department faculty in the case of the PhD For the EdD, the third member must be from outside the Department.

A public discussion of the dissertation proposal is required for both doctoral degrees. Written notice of this examination should be provided to all members of the Department at least two weeks in advance of the examination date through the program secretary in the Department Office.

An oral defense of the completed dissertation is also required. In the case of the PhD, the completed dissertation is submitted to a faculty member with appropriate expertise from outside of the Department (the "outside reader") for evaluation. Responsibility for arranging the defense is in the hands of the major advisor and the Department. Written notice of this examination must be provided to the entire Faculty of the Graduate School of Education at least two weeks prior to the examination date through the program secretary in the Department Office.

After successfully passing the defense of dissertation oral examination, the student fills out appropriate forms (Survey of Earned Doctorates and Microfilming forms) for graduation, submits an abstract and a copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School in the case of the PhD and the Graduate School of Education in the case of the EdD and pays microfilming and any other fees. For details on current graduation procedures, consult the Department Office, the Graduate School of Education and, for the PhD, the Graduate School. Each student must also submit a bound copy of the dissertation to the Department for the Department library.


The Department cooperates with the University's Career Planning Office which serves students and alumni seeking professional positions. Each student is encouraged to register with the placement service, establish a credential file with them and maintain the credential file in a current state. Individual questions concerning placement may be raised with the student's advisor or Judith C. Applebaum, the Education Officer, at the Career Planning Office, 266 Capen, telephone 716-645-6858.

The Department is involved in placement procedures in the following ways:

  1. current vacancies in the field of education are posted on the bulletin boards outside of the Department Library (479 Baldy)
  2. the faculty in their advisement roles are willing to check a student's placement credentials with a view to improving the student's presentation of his/her qualifications