Career Development Programs

Click here to download a list of Career Development Programs for Graduate Students Spring 2017. Please note that registration is required for these programs through the NUCareers calendar.

Graduate Program Policies and Procedures

The General Regulations booklet reviews the minimum academic requirements established by the University and the Graduate Office. This booklet is updated annually and the academic year is noted on the cover. Students may also obtain a copy of the booklet in their department.



Academic advising is a critical part of a student’s experience in the graduate program. New students are assigned faculty advisors and are welcome to subsequently change advisors as they fine-tune their academic and career objectives. Advising covers substantive questions in the student’s field of study as well as long-term academic and career planning. Students are strongly urged to speak to an advisor before registering for courses each semester. Any change in advisor must be reported to the program director.


Directed Study

A directed study is an individual reading and research course arranged between a student and a faculty member. A directed study is an opportunity for more in-depth analysis of a particular topic or the study of a subject matter not covered in the program’s curriculum. Directed studies carry three semester hours for academic credit. Prior to the start of a directed study, the student and the faculty member must prepare a syllabus that outlines required readings, writing assignments, and other work to be performed by the student, as well as criteria for determining the student’s grade. The syllabus represents a contract that clarifies the responsibilities and expectations of both the student and the faculty member. The proposed directed study must be approved by the director of the program in which the student is enrolled before the start of the semester.


Transfer Credit

Up to nine semester hours of graduate level credits can be transferred into the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Master’s degree programs. These credits must be earned at an accredited institution in the US, must not have been used toward a prior degree, and must be graduate level. In addition, the student must have earned a B or better and the credits must be valid at the time that the student will complete the Northeastern degree. A petition for transfer should be submitted to the director of the program. If transfer credits are recommended by the program, the College will consider the petition.


Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory progress means satisfying the requirements of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities Graduate Programs General Regulations and of the regulations specified in the department booklet. The College sets minimum standards for all students to fulfill. Masters students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.000 as well as a 3.000 in the core courses. Each PhD student will have an annual review of his/her progress toward the completion of the degree. Receipt financial support administered by the Graduate Office is contingent on satisfactory academic progress toward the degree and on meeting department-specific guidelines.


Academic Probation

Any student failing to make satisfactory progress is placed on academic probation, a warning that serves to alert the student to the fact that he/she may not be allowed to continue in the program unless the deficiency is addressed. Students should monitor their own academic records to ensure that they are meeting program standards. Program personnel monitor transcripts each semester and will report any failure to maintain satisfactory progress to the individual student, to the student’s advisor, and to the director of the program.


Resources for PhD Students

Annual Student Progress Review

All PhD students are required to meet with their faculty advisors for an annual student progress review. The reviews will be submitted to the Department’s Graduate Studies Committee, which will determine whether satisfactory progress is being made and students are eligible to proceed to complete their graduate work. The College’s Graduate Office will receive a copy of each student’s review.


Qualifying Examination

After completing all course requirements, each PhD student must pass the comprehensive examination – a written examination that covers materials from the core courses and other representative literature. The examination is offered at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination in the semester following the completion of all coursework. Students are allowed to re-take the exam once.


Degree Candidacy

Degree candidacy is established when the student has completed all coursework and has passed the comprehensive examination. Once a student reaches doctoral degree candidacy, the Graduate Office will certify the student’s status in writing. After establishing degree candidacy, registration must be continuous until graduation requirements are complete. For each of the first two semesters of candidacy, the student must register for a section of Doctoral Dissertation with their respective advisor. During each semester thereafter, students must register for Doctoral Dissertation Continuation until the dissertation has been defended, approved by the College, and submitted to Proquest.


Dissertation Proposal

During the two semesters of Doctoral Dissertation, degree candidates are required to attend a bi-weekly research seminar. The purpose of the seminar is to assist students in deciding on a thesis topic, developing an outline for a dissertation, and establishing a dissertation committee. The key outcome  is for students to identify a research topic and to have, at a minimum, a plan for a research design and outline of the dissertation. By the end of two semesters, the student must form a dissertation committee and must present the research design to the seminar.

Students should consult the “Guide to Dissertation Requirements” for specific information on how to select committee members and complete the requirements in a timely fashion. Students who do not submit a proposal within this timeframe are deemed to be making inadequate progress in the program and are required to register for dissertation continuation. Students who have not had their proposals approved by the end of the second semester will have one additional semester to work with their committee to complete a final draft.

Dissertation committees have to be approved by the executive committee. In order to receive approval, students should submit a dissertation committee proposal to the executive committee. The proposal should identify the respective faculty members whom the student would like to have serve on the committee and should describe how each faculty member’s field of expertise relates to the topic.

Once the proposal has been approved by the dissertation committee, students should notify the research seminar instructor. Students then continue dissertation research under the guidance of their committee.


Final Oral Examination

Doctoral candidates defend their dissertations in public meetings conducted by the chairs of their dissertation committees. The public meeting must be advertised for two weeks prior to the defense.