Below are the steps to complete your coursework, exam, candidacy, and dissertation milestones. 
Note that steps 1-5 must be completed prior to advancing to candidacy and enrolling in dissertation hours.
Please refer to the Academic Calendar for registration and candidacy deadlines. 


Step 1: Formal Coursework Completion
Complete all required core, methods, theory, and area of concentration courses. Review your myUCF GPS to make sure you’ve completed all the formal coursework.

Step 2: Qualifying Exam
The Sociology PhD qualifying exam should be completed after completion of all core/required courses, and all courses in your Major Area of Concentration. The exam is offered at the beginning of the Fall/Spring semesters. You should email the Graduate Director the semester before you plan to take the exam, to let them know you would like to be added to the exam in the upcoming semester. Once you pass the exam, you are eligible to defend your dissertation proposal.

Note: Most students enroll in Doctoral Research hours the semester they take their exam. Please contact if you would like a GPS review to determine if this is appropriate in your particular case. It is wise to review your GPS in MyUCF each semester to make sure you are fulfilling your requirements as well.

Step 3: Dissertation Committee Formation
The semester before you plan to defend your proposal, you should choose a dissertation committee chair, and work with them to choose members of your advisory committee.

Dissertation Committees must have one Chair, two Department members, and one member outside of the Department.

Please refer to the Dissertation Committee Formation page for more information on this process, including step-by-step instructions.

Note: the committee formation process can take several weeks (3 weeks or more) for processing and approval, so make sure you complete this step as early as possible. 

Step 4: Complete your CITI/Academic Integrity Training
Before you can defend your proposal and advance to candidacy, you will need to complete the CITI/Academic Integrity training on your myUCF to-do list.

You can visit for more information about the training, and for instructions on creating your CITI account to complete the CITI portion of the training.

Visit the Academic Integrity Workshops page to register for the four Academic Integrity workshops required.

Step 5: Defend Proposal (Candidacy Exam)
Once you have passed your qualifying exam, formed your committee, and completed all your training, you are ready to defend your proposal, also known as the “candidacy exam”.

Make sure you check your myUCF Graduate Plan of Study (myUCF>Other Academic Dropdown>Graduate Plan of Study) to ensure that you have completed all the requisite requirements prior to your proposal defense. More information about the GPS can be found here.

You will work with your committee to schedule your proposal.  Once you’ve scheduled the proposal, email to let them know the time & date of the defense.

Once your proposal defense is done, the Graduate Admissions Coordinator will contact your Dissertation Chair, and will work with them to get the necessary approval form completed and processed.

You are now ABD! Congratulations!

Step 6: Enroll in Dissertation Hours
In the semester following your proposal defense, you will be able to enroll in Dissertation Hours.

You need a total of 15 dissertation hours by the end of the program. Three hours is considered full-time, but you can enroll in up to nine per semester if you want to complete all your hours in 2-3 semesters.

To enroll in these hours, you will need to complete a Restricted Registration Agreement. You will complete this form with your Dissertation Chair each semester you enroll in dissertation hours.

Step 7: IRB Approval

For any research that involves human subjects, whether it is direct contact with humans, surveys, or analyses of secondary research data that originally came from humans etc., you must submit your protocol through Huron to the Institutional Review Board for approval before commencing new research, or before you start analysis of any secondary research.  This includes research that you are conducting under another researcher’s approved protocol (e.g., when your advisor’s name is listed as investigator on a larger project and your study is a part of that protocol).   As the investigator of your thesis or dissertation, your name should be listed as “investigator” on your IRB submission.

The reason you must do this in advance is to ensure you are using the data properly.  If you already have an approval letter with your name listed as “investigator,” then please email it to so they can update your IRB checklist as Approved.

If you and your faculty advisor are 100% sure your research does not involve any human subjects/human data/specimens, then you do not need to submit to the IRB. Instead, please have your dissertation committee chair write an email to (Bridgett Burk) to update the checklist as Waived. If your research is already completed and your advisor has confirmed that it does not involve any human subjects/human data/specimens, you do not need to submit for retroactive approval, and your program assistant can update the checklist as Waived.

If there is any question about the nature of your research and you are unsure if IRB approval is needed:

  • The NIH Human Research Tool can be used as a starting point to determine what types of studies need to come to the IRB for a determination.  In general, if you select any of the first 4 options in question 1, you should apply to the IRB for review of your proposed research.  If you select the 5 option and have more questions, contact UCF IRB at
  • If you submit to the IRB for a determination, the IRB may decide that you do not need IRB approval. In that case, they will send you a letter or email with a determination of NHSR (not human subjects research) and you can send that to as documentation for a waiver.

If you are using data associated with a Sociology faculty member’s study that has already been approved by IRB, email to find out any steps you might need to take (e.g. if they need to add you as a co-PI).

If IRB is Waived, then the 2nd IRB Closure checklist will also be marked as Waived since there will not be a study that needs IRB closure. However, if your research did require IRB approval, the IRB Closure “to do” item will stay until you are done with the study and take action to go through the IRB Closure process. Once you do that, you can notify by emailing them a copy of the closure letter/email and then the Graduate Admissions Coordinator will update your IRB Closure checklist as Completed.

Your dissertation chair may assist you with submitting to Huron, or you can reach out to for assistance with this process.

Note: If you are using data associated with a Sociology faculty member’s study that has already been approved by IRB, email to find out any steps you might need to take (e.g. if they need to add you as a co-PI).

The Graduate Admissions Coordinator MUST receive your letter of approval/exemption, or an email waiving IRB,  prior to your graduating semester. 

Step 8: Final Defense & Graduation
You are almost done! When you are enrolled in the last of your 15 dissertation hours, you are eligible to apply for graduation and defend your final dissertation.

Please refer to the Thesis & Dissertation Defense page for step-by-step instructions.


Refer to the Academic Calendar for more information about the deadlines. Make sure you select the correct term on the calendar, e.g. Summer deadlines will be on the Summer calendar, etc. These deadlines change each semester. Note that it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of all deadlines and requirements. Missing a deadline can result in a delay in graduation, as CGS will not grant an extension to posted deadlines.