Academic Policies

1. Graduate School Policies

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the Graduate School policies, especially for doctoral programs: The Graduate School Handbook.

Specifically, items related to advising can be found in 3.9 and 3.2:

2. First-Year Advising

The Director of the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program serves as the graduate advisor for all incoming students. The Director will provide advising for a maximum of three semesters. As soon as possible, but no later than the end of the third semester, each student will seek a graduate advisor and select an advisory committee. The Director provides advice and guidance in this process. When the committee is formed, advising duties transfer to the graduate advisor.

3. Choosing an Advisor and Advisory Committee

The purpose of the advisory committee is to help students define a topic for dissertation research, as well as choose examination areas and develop a plan of study that will prepare them for dissertation research. The graduate advisor's role is to chair the committee, oversee the examination and dissertation processes, and to serve as an academic mentor to the student.

The advisory committee consists of four members, including the chair. The chair must be part of the CRDM core faculty. The other three committee members can be selected from the faculty in the Departments of Communication and English, from affiliated faculty (see the list of faculty on the CRDM website), or from UNC-CHUNC-G and Duke University. At least one member must be from Communication and one from English. According to NC State's policy on external committee members and technical consultants [graduate school handbook section 3.2.D], students may select committee members from institutions other than NC State. 

Where applicable, students must complete the appropriate advisory committee appointment form:

Generally, the program advises against a six-person committee. If a student needs a sixth member, however, the DGP can allow the additional committee member.

3.1. CHANGING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

EMERGENCY SUBSTITUTES

Substituting members on a committee requires approval by the Graduate School. In an emergency, approval should be obtained if possible. If approval cannot be obtained in time for the defense (for example, it is after business hours on a Friday), you may proceed with the exam, and submit the request for approval immediately.

Conducting the exam with a substitute without Graduate School approval, you risk invalidating the exam. The student and committee will have to reschedule, reconvene, and redo the exam if the Graduate School determines that the initial exam is void.

3.2 GRADUATE SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVE

  1. No CRDM core faculty member can serve as GSR, even if they are representing their department in the defense.
  2. COM and ENG faculty members who are  not affiliated with the CRDM program may serve as GSR if they feel they can be an unbiased observer in the exam.

  3. Students may choose a GSR who does not conflict with the statements above and include the GSR name on their exam request form.

  4. If students cannot find a GSR or prefer that the Graduate School assign one, a request should be sent to the Program Associate, who will then submit it to the Graduate School at least 15 business days prior to the oral exam date.

  5. The program recommends that the student selects a GSR as soon as the reading lists have been accepted by the committee and the student is officially studying for exams.

Approved by the CRDM committee on February 25th, 2016.

4. Student Progress Report

4.1 STUDENT ASSESSMENT LETTERS 

Each year, students are evaluated according to their academic achievement, professional development, and teaching/research duties (where applicable). Where appropriate and needed, the Director offers advice for the coming year.

Starting Spring 2016, each student will be responsible for meeting with their advisor and reporting their progress to the DGP.​

  1. In April, the DGP will send out a survey to the CRDM grads and faculty list to ask students to report on their academic, professional, teaching and research progress during the year (links below).
  2. Students will be asked to schedule an appointment with their advisors to review their progress for the academic year.
  3. Prior to the meeting, students should collect and summarize (two paragraphs max):
    1. Their yearly student evaluations (stats and comments)

    2. Their peer-review evaluation of teaching

    3. Their research / administrative evaluation from their mentors (in case the student had a graduate assistantship in lieu of teaching)

  4. During the meeting, the student should:

    1. Complete the survey appropriate for their year in the program.

    2. Include their advisors’ assessment and two-paragraph evaluation about their performance in the previous academic year.

  5. The deadline to fill in the survey is May 15th.

  6. The Director will review this data and contact students, when appropriate.


4.2. PLAN OF WORK

A Plan of Work should be completed by time the student has completed 18 hours of coursework (for full time students, that means the end of their 2nd semester). Students must consult with their graduate advisor and members of their advisory committee to complete the Plan of Work. The Plan of Work contains the following:

  • A list of advisory committee members,
  • A dissertation topic, and
  • A list of courses the student will take in fulfillment of the program requirements and when they will be taken.


Students will submit the completed Plan of Work in MyPackPortal for review and approval by the CRDM director. Prior to submission, the advisor and student should ensure that the coursework meets all CRDM requirements to fulfill the doctoral degree.

The 56 credit-hours include the following requirements:*

  • 15 hours of core courses
  • 3 hours of research methods (3 may be transferred from MS degree)
  • 12 hours of elective focus
  • 6 hours of professional preparation (3 hours = 809)
  • 20 hours of exams and dissertation

Download Timeline

The Graduate School has final approval of the  Plan of Work. If the student has not appointed a Graduate School Representative, then the GSR must be requested at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled preliminary exam. This can be done when submitting the Preliminary Exam Request Form.   

Students may change a Plan of Work. Any change made to the Plan of Work will require reapproval by the advisor, committee members, DGP, and Graduate School

A signed and completed Plan of Work must be completed and approved by the Graduate School in MyPackPortal before students will be allowed to schedule the preliminary exam.

Helpful Links:

5. Preliminary Exams

All students must pass a preliminary examination consisting of two parts: a written and an oral. A student will pass the preliminary exam only by the advisory committee's unanimous vote of approval after the oral defense of the written portion of the exam.

During the last semesters of coursework, the student works in consultation with members of the advisory committee to develop reading lists in subject areas that reflect the student's Plan of Work and/or areas of dissertation research. Based on these reading lists, members of the advisory committee will write exam questions intended to test the student's mastery of the designated subject areas.

Students may choose exam method A or B.

Exam option A
The student will have up to 4 hours per question to write an answer, with no notes, no outside sources, and no Internet connection
. All questions must be answered within a 72 hour (3 day) period. The advisory committee will determine the location of the exam and the method for distributing the student's answers to the advisory committee.

Exam option B
The student will have up to 4 hours per question to write an answer. The student will receive a question via email from their advisor, and will answer the question in a location of their choice. They must send the question back to the advisor within 4 hours. All questions must be answered within a 72 hour (3 day) period.

After the student has completed the written portion, the graduate advisor will consult with members of the advisory committee to determine if the student is ready to proceed to the oral defense. In cases where the committee determines that parts of the written examination are not adequate, the student may be requested to prepare a supplementary response to bring to the oral portion of the exam.

The oral portion of the exam follows successful completion of the written portion and will last approximately two hours. While it may include material covered in the written examination, it is not limited to the written work. The committee may also add time to this meeting for an initial discussion of the dissertation prospectus (see below). The graduate school representative will attend the preliminary oral examination and sign the Report on the Preliminary Examination to signify that a fair process took place. However, the representative is not a voting member of the committee. A unanimous vote of approval from the examiners is required for students to pass this examination. A student who fails the preliminary examination will be dismissed from the CRDM program.

Scheduling the Preliminary Examination: Written and Oral Components

Students are required to schedule the written portion of the exam no earlier than the end of the second year of graduate study (in the 5th semester for full-time students) and no later than one semester (four calendar months) prior to the final oral examination (i.e., the dissertation defense).

After the advisory committee determines that the student is ready to proceed to the oral portion of the exam, the student works with them to determine a date for the oral portion of the exam. Should members of the advisory committee require any sections of the written exam to be revised or rewritten before the oral exam, the student will receive notice at this time.

The oral portion of the exam cannot be scheduled without prior approval from the Graduate School. The student should download the Request to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination, complete the top portion, and gather signatures from the graduate advisor and DGP. The student should return this form to the CRDM Program Associate, who will submit it to the Graduate School. This form must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the proposed date for the oral portion of the exam. 

This allows time for the program associate to confirm compliance of policy. Please allow additional time if a Graduate School Representative needs to be assigned. In order for the DGP to approve the request to schedule the oral exam, the student should have a Plan of Work approved by the Graduate School. Any other applicable forms should also be approved by the Graduate School such as request to conduct a remote examinter-institutional member request, and external member request.

After successful completion of the preliminary exam, the graduate advisor, advisory committee, and the graduate school representative will sign the Report on the Preliminary Examination (provided by the Graduate School after the request to schedule an exam is approved). The CRDM Program Associate must file this form with the Graduate School within 5 business days of the examination.

All voting members of the committee must also complete the CRDM Preliminary Exam Assessment Rubric. The advisor should ensure that all members complete this assessment immediately following the oral exam. This rubric is for program’s assessment purposes only, and will not be shared with the student or faculty. Forms can only be accessed from your NC State google log in. If the committee has an external member, then the chair can request a hard copy of the form.

6. Dissertation

Students will work closely with their graduate advisor and members of the advisory committee to plan, write, and defend a dissertation. The dissertation should demonstrate the student's ability to conduct original research and to present the results of that research in a way that makes a meaningful contribution to existing research. The dissertation process, consisting of a prospectus, a dissertation, and a final oral defense, will be the student's culminating experience in the doctoral program.

Advisory Committee Meeting

The CRDM Program Committee recommends that doctoral students organize a meeting of their advisory committees to discuss the theoretical foundation and general approach planned for the dissertation during the process of studying for the preliminary examination. Because of the interdisciplinary makeup of each student's advisory committee, it is important to seek input and consensus from the committee before writing the prospectus. This meeting should occur before the Preliminary Exam.

Dissertation Prospectus

Following completion of the preliminary written examination and before the oral preliminary exam, the student will submit a draft dissertation prospectus to the advisory committee. The prospectus should:

  • Identify a significant problem or opportunity for which the dissertation will be a researched response.
  • Articulate a clear topic and direction for research; often, the topic will be expressed as a question or a set of related questions.
  • Ground the problem to be addressed in existing scholarship in order to argue that the dissertation will be an original contribution to published discussions on the topic and that it will not significantly overlap with previous research.
  • Discuss details of a workable and appropriate research method, including any literature to be surveyed, data to be collected, field research to be conducted, or other relevant methodological processes.
  • Outline the chapters of the dissertation.


​The discussion of the prospectus may take place:

  1. At the end of the oral portion of the preliminary exam. By the end of the oral portion of the preliminary exam, the advisory committee will suggest any necessary changes to the prospectus and will recommend whether or not the student is ready to advance to the next stage of the dissertation.

  2. At a separate committee meeting, after the student has passed the preliminary exam.

It is at the discretion of the dissertation chair to decide when the prospectus will be discussed. Nevertheless it is highly encouraged that it is discussed face to face, with all the committee members.

After completion of the prospectus discussion, all committee members must answer a survey about the student’s performance on the prospectus [http://goo.gl/forms/uoWklfXoA9]. The advisor should ensure that all members complete this assessment immediately following the oral exam. This rubric is for program’s assessment purposes only, and will not be shared with the student or faculty. Forms can only be accessed from your NC State google login. If the committee has an external member, then the chair can request a hard copy of the form.

The Dissertation

Coursework: Students should take CRD 895 while doing research. Once research is completed, students should take CRD 899 while writing the dissertation. This is important for accurately recording student work and progress through the degree.

The dissertation is a comprehensive study based on original research that is written in partial fulfillment of requirements for the CRDM doctorate. It has a clear theoretical foundation and employs a rigorous methodology. The manuscript is written so that it reflects the highest standards of writing valued in the Communication and English disciplines. Although all dissertations will be different, most successful dissertations will:​​

  • Articulate a meaningful and precise topic that contributes to existing research.
  • Advance our understanding of the phenomena, processes, histories, or contexts that are the focus of the study.
  • Ask meaningful research questions and then report original research that answers those questions.
  • Articulate the consequences of the research so as to highlight their significance.
  • Demonstrate the author's mastery of relevant theories and methods of research.
  • Demonstrate the author's ability to write clearly and at a level that would be suitable for publication.
  • Read like a book as opposed to a collection of essays. All components of the dissertation should be woven together and presented as a coherent discussion of a single topic.
  • Present the author's voice as one that is authoritative and confident.


Final Oral Examination (The Dissertation Defense)

The final step in a student's successful completion of the doctoral degree is the oral dissertation defense. In this examination, the doctoral candidate defends the methodology, data, and conclusions developed in the dissertation, and relate its overall significance to the field. A unanimous vote by the advisory committee is required to pass the examination. The graduate school representative will attend the final oral examination to ensure a fair process and will sign the report on the final oral examination. However, the representative is not a voting member of the committee.

After completion of the prospectus discussion, all committee members must answer a survey about the student’s performance on the defense  [http://goo.gl/forms/aj9EfyAuth]. The advisor should ensure that all members complete this assessment immediately following the oral exam. This rubric is for program’s assessment purposes only, and will not be shared with the student or faculty. Forms can only be accessed from your NC State google log in. If the committee has an external member, then the chair can request a hard copy of the form.

Scheduling the Final Oral Examination

In order to graduate within a particular semester, doctoral students must successfully pass the final oral examination by the deadline listed in the Graduate School handbook calendar [graduate school handbook section 3.21] and submit an approved, completed dissertation within the required time frame. These deadlines are not flexible, and missed deadlines have consequences. For instance, students may be required to pay another semester's tuition to remain a doctoral candidate.

Thus, students in their final year are encouraged to develop a clear schedule that lists all Graduate School due dates and work backwards from those to schedule the oral examination. Scheduling the committee meeting for the final oral examination is no easier than scheduling the preliminary examination, so students should consult with their advisory committee and set the date at least one month in advance. The committee should include the Graduate School Representative (GSR) from the preliminary exam, so students should ensure that the GSR is available on the dissertation date proposed. The committee should have at least 3 weeks to review the dissertation prior to the defense date.

Once the date is set, the doctoral candidate should initiate the Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination, complete the top portion, gather signatures, and return the form to the CRDM Program Associate at least 10 business days before the final oral examination date. The Program Associate will ensure that it is submitted to the Graduate School. After approving the request, the Graduate School will send to the graduate advisor the Admission to the Final Doctoral Oral Examination form.

After successful completion of the final oral examination, the graduate advisor, advisory committee, and the graduate school representative will sign the Report of the Advisory Committee section on the Admission to the Final Doctoral Oral Examination form. The CRDM Program Associate must file the completed form within 5 days of the examination.

Thesis Editing and Microfilm Charges

The student must schedule an appointment with the Graduate School's thesis editor to ensure that the Graduate School's requirements for dissertations are met, in addition to those already required by the CRDM program. The student can schedule an appointment with the Graduate School's thesis editor as soon as the Graduate School has approved the Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination. Please note that as Graduate School deadlines near, it becomes more difficult to schedule time with the thesis editor.

NC State also requires that doctoral students pay for their dissertations to be microfilmed by University Microfilms International (Ann Arbor, MI). This fee includes publication of the abstract in Dissertation Abstracts International. A microfiche of the dissertation is held in the NCSU Libraries collection.

Completing the Degree

By the end of the sixth week of classes in a student's last semester, the student must apply to graduate via MyPackPortal.

When doctoral students submit the final copy of their dissertation to the Graduate School, they must also submit:

NC State will not release the diploma or record the student's degree until these forms have been submitted. Please note that a survey or additional feedback may also be required by the CRDM Program.​