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Candidacy Requirements

A student may advance to candidacy after fulfilling all departmental coursework requirements and passing prelims. Programs submit the request for advancement to candidacy online. An audit for advancing to candidacy includes verifying the following information:


The program name submitted must match the active program on the unofficial transcript. If the program is an IIDP/SIDP or paired with Scientific Computing, there must be approval from each department in the online system.


18 credit hours (CTPs) of non- 990, non-visit, graded (including courses for which a student receives a “S” Satisfactory) graduate coursework registered as a Rackham student.


3 hours of graduate cognate coursework (grade B- or better). If the cognate requirement is met by a cross-listed course or “in spirit” from coursework outside U-M, please list on the cognate line on the form.

Time to Candidacy

If it’s been more than three years since the student started the program, a Petition for Modification or Waiver of Regulation asking for an extension for time to candidacy may be required.

Prelim Registration

Deadlines for prelims for each term are listed on our website. There must be a registration for the date that’s on the form in the Preliminary Date field. Exceptions:

If the student was registered full-time (8 hours, 6 if the student is a GSI, GSSA, or GSRA) fall and winter they could have a prelim date in May or if the student was registered full-time fall, winter, and either spring or summer (4 hours, 3 if the student is a GSI, GSSA ,or GSRA), they get the other term (spring or summer) to use for the prelim date.


There must be a bachelor’s or bachelor’s equivalent degree posted to the student’s unofficial transcript before a student may be advanced. The posting will list the dates of degree, institution, and the degree citation (B.A., B.S., etc.).


Student’s minimum cumulative GPA must be a 3.0 (B) or higher.

RCRS (Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship Training)

All Ph.D. students are required to complete training in the responsible conduct of research and scholarship before advancing to candidacy.

Additional Candidacy Information


If a student is registered for 990 in the term they advance, the registration will be changed by the Registrar’s Office to 8 hours (in a full term) of 995. If they have not registered for 990 or 995 but have registered for any other course, 8 hours of 995 will be added to their record for that term. The Registrar’s Office makes these changes and tuition adjustments approximately the third week of class or monthly thereafter.


The Recommendation for Candidacy is due to Rackham three weeks into the term for which the advancement is requested. We will accept the requests up until the last day of classes for that term, but often students need the candidacy on their academic record for visa purposes, financial, or fellowship reasons. Advancement to candidacy will not be processed retroactively.

Candidacy Course Registration

Ph.D. candidates are registered in the fall and winter terms for 995, “Dissertation/candidate,” which consists of 8 credit hours for a full term or 4 credit hours for a half term. No part-time enrollment is possible. A student who defends in the spring and/or summer half-term must register for 8 credit hours of 995 for the spring/summer full term.

A candidate who registers for a course must seek prior approval from the faculty advisor and also register for 995. A candidate may elect either one course per term, or more than one course for a total of no more than four credits, without paying additional tuition. Courses may be taken for credit or as a visit (audit). A candidate who does not elect a course during a term of 995 enrollment may, in the next term, either register for courses for no more than 8 credits or register for no more than two courses that total more than 8 credits without paying additional tuition. An additional course may not be taken in anticipation of taking none in a future term of 995 enrollment. A candidate who takes courses beyond this limit will be assessed tuition.

When a candidate registers for a course during the fall, winter, or spring and summer half-terms but does not register for 995, the Registrar’s Office will add the 995 to the term and assess any required tuition

Contact Academic Records and Dissertations

0120 Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.763.0171
Fax: 734.936.3335


Academic Records and Dissertations is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.