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Admission to Candidacy — Doctoral Degree

The Admission to Candidacy application, when approved, is a contract between a student and the university, establishing the coursework required to graduate with a degree in their chosen program. Once the application has been submitted and approved, any later changes to the degree requirements for a program will not apply to the candidate. If for any reason (class unavailability, etc.), a course listed on this application cannot be completed, the candidate may submit a Revision to Admission to Candidacy form. These revisions will need to be approved by the candidate’s major professor.

You may submit the Doctoral Admission to Candidacy application after admission as a potential candidate to the doctoral program, having passed the comprehensive exams. In addition, your doctoral committee must be officially established through the Graduation Specialist by submitting a Doctoral Committee Form before your Admission to Candidacy will be approved.


  1. Obtain a copy of your academic history from the Registrar’s Office, your academic department, or the Graduate School.
  2. Fill out the identifying information (name, email, major, degree, etc.). Be certain to fill out information regarding residence, comprehensive examination, and doctoral language examination, if required.
  3. List in chronological order the graduate coursework you will apply toward your degree, paying close attention to the requirements for your major. Check the current Graduate Catalog and consult your major professor to ensure that you meet the requirements for your degree. For coursework used from a prior Master’s degree, you may list those hours in a special section and list the university in which the degree was awarded.
  4. Print the form and sign where indicated. Obtain the signatures of your committee chair, your committee members, and the graduate program director. Note that the signature of the committee members must match the signature listed on the approved Doctoral Committee Form.
  5. Bring the signed form (with original signatures) to the Graduate School at the address above. If you are having difficulty getting original signatures, please contact the Graduate School at 865-974-2475 (, and we can help find a solution.
  6. You should submit your graduation application through MyUTK by the same deadline date as the Admission to Candidacy, the last day of classes preceding the term in which you expect to graduate (see current deadline dates).

Important Considerations

When evaluating your application, the Graduation Specialist will first ensure that you have listed the correct major and degree to which you have been admitted. Then, your coursework will be checked against your academic history for accuracy. The Graduation Specialist will also look for the following:

  • Degree requirements (Each department or program has its own requirements for candidacy, in terms of required coursework, 600-level coursework, and hours of dissertation credit. The applicant should check with the department, program, or the Graduate Catalog to be certain that the correct requirements are listed on the application.)
  • Time limit (No course used toward the degree may be more than eight years old at the time of graduation)
  • Language requirements, cognate area coursework, or computer courses, if applicable
  • Signatures of committee members and Director of Graduate Studies (be sure to print each name next to signature).
  • Residence requirement (The application must list two consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment [9 hours] or three consecutive semesters of part-time enrollment [6 hours]).
  • Completion of exams (include the date of your successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive examination where indicated)

The next step is to complete a graduation application for the term in which you plan to graduate. If your admission to candidacy is approved, you and your Director of Graduate Studies will receive an email notification. If not, you will receive a letter explaining what problems exist. It is your responsibility to handle any problems in a timely manner so that your graduation is not delayed.

This application will not be accepted by the Graduate School without original signatures of the approved committee members and the Director of Graduate Studies. If you are having difficulty getting original signatures, please contact the Graduate School at 865-974-2475 (, and we can help find a solution.