Doctoral Graduation Information

a photo of a student wearing a graduation cap and gown holding her diploma in front of a large wall hanging of the official seal of Western Michigan UniversityThe information is intended as a guide to completing your degree requirements. It is not intended to substitute for departmental advising! See your departmental advisor to confirm that you have met all the following requirements and to determine what additional departmental requirements may exist.

Steps towards graduation 

  1. A doctoral program of study must be filed in the Records Office. Please make sure your department has forwarded the original program and any revisions that may have been made. Please do not send to the Graduate College. Some departments or colleges may require a different doctoral program of study form.
  2. Pass all qualifying and comprehensive exams. Notification of successful completion of exams must be sent by the department to the Records Office before the audit can be completed. Please do not send notice of exam completion to the Graduate College.
  3. File a Doctoral Dissertation Committee Appointment form with the Dissertation Specialist, Jennifer Holm, no later than one week after the committee is formed. Click here for committee requirements and form.
  4. Apply for graduation by the stated deadline. Earlier submission is strongly encouraged; you may change your graduation date at any point after the audit without paying an additional application fee.
  • April graduation deadline: October 1
  • June graduation deadline: February 1
  • August graduation deadline: February 1
  • December graduation deadline: February 1

Review audit letter for any unmet requirements:

  • Any incomplete grades must be removed.
  • If not finishing the degree within the 7-year time limit, an extension of time must be sought from The Graduate College extension form.
  • If completing a thesis, it must be successfully defended and submitted to the Graduate College by the deadline for graduation submission deadlines.
  • Must have overall 3.0 GPA to graduate with a doctoral degree.
  • All graduation requirements must be completed within 30 days after date of commencement.

Participation in the commencement ceremony:

  • There is no commencement ceremony at the conclusion of the summer II semester. Doctoral graduates are the only students who receive their actual diploma at the ceremony; undergraduates and master's graduates receive a commemorative diploma tube and their official diploma is mailed at a later date. For this reason doctoral graduates may not participate early in commencement before all of their requirements are met. For example, if a Ph.D. student plans to graduate in August, they cannot participate in commencement in June but must wait until December to participate in the ceremony.

Schedule defense of dissertation:

  • All of the above requirements must be met before the defense can be scheduled.
  • Defense must take place at least one week before dissertation submission deadline submission deadlines.
  • Notification must be submitted to the Graduate College at least two weeks prior to defense date defense scheduling form.
  • Prepare three original copies of the dissertation approval form for signature by your committee (details available at
  • At least three members of your committee must attend the defense.
  • Submit defended dissertation to the Graduate College by the deadline for graduation submission deadlines.

If graduation requirements are not completed by the deadlines, you must change your graduation date by contacting the Office of Graduation Auditing at (269) 387-4300.