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College of Veterinary Medicine

Program and Degree Requirements

Students with a BS Degree

At least 90 semester hours of credits including a minimum of 15 hours of formal course work (800-level or higher) and 30 hours of research credits (DMP 999. Ph.D. Research in Pathobiology), for the dissertation, a preliminary examination, research, a written dissertation, and a satisfactory defense of the dissertation at the final oral examination.

Students with a MS Degree

At least 60 semester hours of credits including a minimum of 15 hours of formal course work (800-level or higher) and 30 hours of research credits for the dissertation (DMP 999. Ph.D. Research in Pathobiology), a preliminary examination, research, a written dissertation, and satisfactory defense of the dissertation at the final oral examination.  

Students with a DVM Degree or in a Dual DVM/PhD Degree Program

At least 90 semester hours of credits, including a minimum of 15 hours of formal course work (800-level or higher) and 30 hours of research credits for the dissertation (DMP 999. PhD Research in Pathobiology), a preliminary examination, research, a written dissertation, and a satisfactory defense of the dissertation at the final oral examination.  Students with a DVM degree or enrolled in a dual DVM/PhD program may transfer a maximum of 30 credit hours from the DVM degree toward the doctoral program of study.  DVM students who do not have a bachelor’s degree or not yet earned a bachelor’s degree and are enrolled in the dual degree (DVM/PhD) program, the doctoral degree shall be awarded concurrently with the DVM or after the completion of the DVM degree (not before the DVM degree).

Core Course Requirements

  1. The following are required courses for all PhD students in Pathobiology:
    1. Three credits of Graduate Seminar.  At least one of the three credits should be DMP 970. Seminar in Pathobiology (PhD).
    2. Two credits of course on responsible conduct and ethics in research (AP 896-Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research).
    3. A minimum of 30 credit hours of DMP999. PhD Research in Pathobiology.

The Supervisory Committee

The supervisory committee will include the major professor, who chairs the committee, and at least three other members of the graduate faculty.  (https://catalog.k-state.edu/content.php?catoid=43&navoid=7631; https://catalog.k-state.edu/content.php?catoid=43&navoid=7675; https://catalog.k-state.edu/content.php?catoid=43&navoid=7642).  The major professor must be certified to direct doctoral students.  On doctoral committees having co-major professors, at least one must be certified to direct dissertation research.  Of the four members, at least two should be from the Pathobiology Graduate Program.  Of the other three members, one member must be from outside the major professor's department.  In addition to the members selected, the Dean of the Graduate School may appoint other members to the supervisory committee from the graduate faculty.  All members of a student's supervisory committee have the collective responsibility for advising and guiding the student, planning the program of study, administering the preliminary and final examinations, ensuring that University Regulations and Pathobiology Program Requirements are met, and ensuring that the student's doctoral program is of high quality.

The supervisory committee also is responsible for ensuring that no conflicts of interest exist.  Conflicts of interest to be avoided include those that may arise from personal or professional relationships between committee members, committee members and the student, with funding sources, and with any other stakeholders.

The Program of Study

Every doctoral student must file with the Graduate School a Program of Study, which is a formal list of the courses the student intends to take to fulfill the requirements of the degree.  The program of study should only list courses directly related to the doctorate.  Students must submit an approved program of study before the end of their second semester of graduate study.  The Program of Study form can now be submitted electronically from the student form dashboard at this link.  The form is not savable and must be filled out completely and submitted in one session.  Therefore, you may want to use the existing paper form to collect the information needed for electronic submission and then submit the necessary information via the electronic form.  The student should prepare a tentative list of courses for the program of study in consultation with the major professor, which is then presented to other members of the supervisory committee in a meeting. 

A complete list of all graduate courses in the Departments of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology and Clinical Sciences and relevant graduate courses in the departments of Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology, Entomology, Food Science, and Statistics are available at http://www.vet.k-state.edu/education/dmp/graduate/courses/.

In planning and preparing the Program of Study, please keep the following points in mind:

  1. A minimum of 15 credit hours at the 800-level or above, in addition to doctoral research credit hours.
  2. No more than 6 hours of course work (outside the major field of study) at the 500 level, beyond those on the master's degree, are permitted on a doctoral program of study. For students who bypass the master's degree, no more than 12 hours of course work at the 500 level are permitted.
  3. Only 6 hours of problems (DMP 999.Problems in Pathobiology) or other individualized study may be applied towards a doctoral degree.
  4. A maximum of 30 hours from a master's degree may be used on a doctoral degree, if the supervisory committee decides that the course work is relevant to the doctoral program.  Indicate the degree, university and the year under the transfer credits section of the Program of Study.  If the whole 30 hours is not being included, course work from a master's degree should be listed individually in the transfer credits section of the program of study.
  5. Course titles, course numbers, and the semester taken (S, Su, or F) should be listed on the program as they are recorded on your transcript and in the order taken.  For courses not yet taken, leave the semester taken blank.  Research hours (DMP 999) should be listed as a total, not by semester.

All members of the supervisory committee must indicate their approval by signing the Program of Study.  The Director of the Pathobiology Graduate Program must then endorse the Program of Study.  It is then submitted for approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.  Subsequent changes in the program of study require approval by all members of the supervisory committee, and if changes are made, a Program/Committee Change form (https://www.k-state.edu/grad/academics/forms/2017forms/g-pcf.pdf) should be submitted to the Graduate School before graduation.  General guidelines for preparing a program of study posted on the Graduate School website should be followed when preparing a program of study (https://www.k-state.edu/grad/students/doctoral/index.html).

Grade Requirements

For graduate credit, the grade in a course must be C or higher.  To remain in good standing and to be awarded a graduate degree, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Preliminary Examination

The examination is designed to test the student's breadth and depth of knowledge and general competency in the field of specialization.  The passing of the preliminary examination is an indication that the student is on track to achieve the learning outcomes of the graduate program.  The examination may be scheduled after the program of study is filed and at a time deemed appropriate by the supervisory committee, generally after completion of two-thirds of the formal courses listed in the Program of Study.  The preliminary examination must be completed at least 7 months before the final dissertation defense presentation and oral examination.  The format of the examination is decided by the supervisory committee and should include an oral examination.  Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date (https://www.k-state.edu/grad/academics/forms/index.html).  A ballot is sent to the major professor by the Graduate School.  Copies of the examination are filed with the academic unit and made available on request to any graduate faculty member for a period of two years from the date of examination.

One of the following formats is suggested for the preliminary examination:

  1. A written examination (open or closed book) from each committee member in areas related to courses taken by the student and or to the research discipline.
  2. A grant proposal writing format.  The student should develop three one-page preproposals in areas not directly related to the dissertation research and submit to the supervisory committee.  The committee selects one and assigns the student to develop a full proposal following the guidelines of NIH, NSF, or USDA.  The student will have approximately one month to write and submit to the committee for evaluation

Approximately two weeks after the completion of the written examination or submission of the grant proposal, an oral examination is scheduled for further examination of the student’s competency.  The results of the preliminary examination are indicated on the ballot by the signatures of those members of the departmental or program examining committee responsible for administration and grading of the examination.  Within one week following the completion and determination of the results of the preliminary examination, including those of any oral portion, the supervisory committee must sign and return the ballot to the Graduate School, indicating that the preliminary examination has been completed and recommending approval or disapproval of the student's admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student is considered to have passed the examination and to be recommended to candidacy if at least three fourths of the supervisory committee voted to approve candidacy.

In case of failure of the first preliminary examination, the supervisory committee may approve a second examination with no more than one dissenting vote.  A second examination can be taken no sooner than three months following the initial failure.  Once the supervisory committee and the student decide when the second examination is to be taken, the student should notify the Graduate School one month before the scheduled date.  The composition of the supervisory committee shall not be changed before a final decision is reached on admission to candidacy.  A second failure constitutes denial of admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree in the field of study of the graduate program. As with the first examination, the signed ballot must be returned to the Graduate School within one week of the determination of the results of the examination.


Upon satisfactory completion of the preliminary examination, the student is automatically advanced to candidacy for the degree.  The period of candidacy may last up to five years from the end of the semester in which the preliminary examination was passed.  If a student fails to complete both the dissertation and final oral examination within this period, the student will be dropped from candidacy.  Any student whose candidacy has thus lapsed may regain the status of a doctoral candidate by successfully retaking the preliminary examination.

When the student is admitted to candidacy, the Dean of the Graduate School appoints an outside member of the graduate faculty to the supervisory committee.  The outside member serves as a chairperson for the final oral examination.  The student should seek an appointment with the outside chairperson to meet in person, brief about the dissertation research and discuss the likely time table for completion of the degree.

Continuous Enrollment

A student working for a doctorate must be enrolled at Kansas State University during the semester in which the preliminary examination is taken and in each subsequent semester (fall and spring) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School. Failure to enroll will result in loss of candidacy.  To regain candidacy, the student must successfully petition the Readmission Committee of the Graduate School.


A dissertation is required of all candidates for the award of a doctoral degree.  Its purpose is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to conduct significant original research of a type appropriate to the Pathobiology discipline, to analyze the information obtained from the research, and to present the results in a form acceptable to the supervisory committee.  

The candidate must provide a copy of the dissertation to each member of the supervisory committee and the outside chairperson at least two weeks before the final examination.

Final Examination

The final oral examination may be taken when the student has completed the program of study and satisfied all other program requirements.  The final examination should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.

The outside chairperson, as the representative of the Graduate School, is responsible for conducting the final examination in an orderly manner, evaluating it as a test of the candidate's expertise, submitting the final ballot, and making other reports as appropriate or required.  As a member of the examining committee, the chairperson also has the right and the responsibility to evaluate the candidate's performance and to cast a vote.

Following a successful final examination and approval of the final form of the dissertation by the examining committee, the candidate shall submit an electronic dissertation to the Dean of the Graduate School.  The final electronic copy must also conform to the stylistic guidelines adopted by the academic unit and to the physical requirements established by the Graduate School, available on the Graduate School website under Requirements and Guidelines for Electronic Theses, Dissertations, and Reports.  When all other requirements have been met, the candidate is recommended by the Dean of the Graduate School to the Faculty Senate for approval to award the degree.