PhD in Business Administration and Management
Mount Kenya University
School of Business and Economics
Business Administration and Management
1.0 The Degree Program description
The proposed PhD degree program has two tracks. One track is designed to train men and women who seek careers in academia as lecturers, professors and researchers. The second track is designed for those individuals in the public or private arena who desire, seek or need to develop and/or enrich their careers in organizational leadership and management. Both tracks have four common core courses after which each track emphasizes its goal.
After the 4 core courses (Multivariate statistics, O&B, Macroeconomics and Research Methods), individuals will pursue their broadly based career aspirations. The idea here is that no matter who they are or end-up being, they will need to know something about people and their organizations and how and why people behave the way they do in and out of organizations; they will need to have more than just a casual acquaintance with the economic system in which they live and especially so if they are organizational leaders; they will also need to know something about how information is generated, utilized in and within their or other organizations.
For those desiring to pursue careers in academia, it is necessary for each one of them to prepare to have the kind of academic preparation and skills which will enable them to productively engage in creating knowledge, its diffusion and utilization. This means that they must have research skills --- especially those skills that enhance knowledge creation --- that are essential for this track including research and publications. It is expected that the individuals seeking to join this program will have some statistical abilities to enable them to conduct regression analyses. In other words, where and when an applicant to this program lacks background in these quantitative skills, it shall be their responsibility to ensure that this background is fulfilled within the first trimester of enrollment in this program. After the core courses for each of the tracks, there will be four courses in their specializations. One applicable elective course will also be available. This track carries 27 credits of coursework plus 6 credits for dissertation research and writing for a total of 33 credits.
The track in Organizational Leadership and Management: This PhD track is primarily for those individuals who do not wish to pursue careers in academia or are not currently involved in academic activities such as teaching, research and publishing and research. They are basically individuals who wish to pursue or enhance their leadership and management careers in organizations. In addition to the core courses, (Basic statistics, O&B, Macroeconomics, Research Methods) this group shall be required to take an additional15 more credits in their specialization to make a total of 27 credits plus 6 credits for dissertation research & writing to make a total of 33 credits.
1.1 Program objective
The twofold goal of the proposed MKU PhD program is on one hand to prepare students for careers in academia as professors, lecturers and researchers and on the other to train men and women for careers in organizational leadership and management. To do this, the program proposes to build students’ understanding of substantive academic domains and literature within their selected areas of concentration through extensive exposure to the pertinent literature in their domains. That is to say:
- understand their academic domains thoroughly, the program shall provide the student with the requisite methodological and analytical tools required for executing research and creating knowledge that will add and inform the teaching process.
- ground students into coursework which, first and foremost, deepens their knowledge and understanding of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary materials, builds their skills in formulating, conducting, and communicating research findings through teaching, publications and/or consultancy.
- foster students’ ability to acquire disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and skills which enable them to be effective teachers and researchers.
- acquire academic skills for both research and quality teaching.
- appreciate that teaching and research go hand in hand because effective teaching requires good academic research to enrich and update it continuously.
1.1.2 Program rationale
The rationale for this PhD proposal is that it seeks to supplement and upgrade Kenya’s higher education manpower needs by developing university teachers with competency in teaching and research. Although individual students may or will opt to do or pursue other interests, this program’s focus is to train university teachers who do research that increases generation of new knowledge that Kenya and the region need in order to be and stay competitive in the global economy. Secondly, the program seeks to develop and upgrade leaders and practitioners in organizational leadership and management. With that focus, MKU hopes to attract and be academic and professional home for those individuals who have the necessary personal drive, academic preparation, self discipline and intellectual curiosity to meet and satisfy the challenges of a demanding academic program.
1.2 The curriculum structure
The MKU PhD curriculum is structured into three general phases. The first phase is coursework which consists of mandatory 12 credits followed by 12 credits in the concentration area and 3 elective credits for a total of 27 credits of coursework. The second phase shall involve sitting for written and oral comprehensive examinations, identification, development and presentation of an acceptable and researchable dissertation research proposal. The third phase covers acceptance of the dissertation research proposal followed by data collection, interpretation, analysis, findings and defense of the dissertation.
1.2.1 The coursework rationale
The purpose of coursework in business and public management is primarily to equip students with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills and tools to enable them to ably engage in both effective teaching and rigorous academic research. By its very nature and origin, business and public management are hybridized disciplines. They borrow heavily from both social and natural sciences. It is therefore essential that for a serious lecturer and/or academic researcher in this area to be aware of and accordingly embrace both disciplinary specific and interdisciplinary perspectives in his/her work. For example, one cannot be serious about human resources management or marketing without sufficient exposure and grounding in organizational theory and behavior and, similarly, marketing and consumer behavior have borrowed heavily from both sociology and psychology.
1.2.2 Credit hour weighting
A MKU credit hour is described as the composite of the amount of time actually spent in a and with lecturer’s presentations, class discussions, student contributions, viewing materials or other participatory activities on one hand and the amount of time that the student spends searching, reading and preparing materials for presentation or submission or discussion on the other hand. The traditionally used standard of contact time is 2400 minutes for 3 credit hours per one trimester of about 3 months. For purposes of this MKU degree, a seminar class meeting shall require 180 minutes per sitting for 3 months plus an estimated 240 minutes per each assignment that the student shall be required to use to search, read, organize and prepare assigned materials for formal class presentation and discussions. The amount of time thus expended for both class-sitting and preparation shall be 2520 minutes during which the student shall be intensely engaged in assignment preparation and presentation.
1.2.3 Course and credit loading
To start with, students shall be required to enroll for a maximum of 9 graduate credits and/or a minimum of 3 graduate credits per trimester. MKU trimester is approximately 14 weeks. An average of 6 graduate credit hours per trimester is the recommended norm. Successful completion of 27 credits of coursework as outlined below shall be required before a student can advance to the next stage. Additional 6 credits shall be awarded after the successful writing and defending the dissertation. This degree has 4 required common core courses, 4 required courses in concentrations, 1 elective course; there are 6 credits allocated for the dissertation. There are six possible concentrations. To complete the degree, the student must earn a total of 33 credits and maintain a GPA of 3.3.
2.0 Common Core courses
Upon admission, students shall be required to take the mandatory 12 credits of coursework considered critical to the successful completion of this program. The 12 credits are provided as follows:
(a) Research methodologies 3 credits
(c) Multivariate statistics 3 credits
(d) Macroeconomic theory and analysis 3 credits
(e) Organization theory and behavior 3 credits
2.1 Course loading
As shown here below, the proposed program’s curriculum is structured in such a way that it provides different academic research options for students depending on individual career interests and pursuits. To be sure, 9 of the program’s 12 mandatory credits are research and methodological oriented while one of the concentration courses is similarly research oriented. That is a total of 12 credits of academic research. In other words, 1/3 of the program’s coursework load is in academic research skill development. Additionally, both the mode of teaching and learning continuously requires and involves students in participative individual research activities.
2.1.1 Areas of concentration
The purpose of doctoral concentration is to provide depth and direction in a student’s academic and research career interests. After the completion of the 12 mandatory credits of coursework, students shall be required to take another 12 credits of coursework in their chosen areas of concentration. Twelve (12) of these credits shall be directed courses in the specific concentration and the remaining 3 credits shall be elective in any course that the students may choose to further enrich or strengthen their career and/or research capability. MKU program’s curricular concentrations are intended and structured to make a student learn, in greater depth, the art and science of research in their concentrations and how to work in an interdisciplinary environment as they seek to advance the state of research and knowledge in their areas of specialties. This PhD offers a degree with 6 areas of concentrations. These are
- Banking & Finance,
- Human Resources and Organizational Management,
- Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management,
- Strategic & Organizational Leadership and Management
2.1.2 Program’s research orientation
MKU PhD students shall be trained to engage in generating and disseminating knowledge that will benefit the teaching and the learning processes as well as enriching society in general, the program shall offer three (3) academic research approaches which shall be designed and suited to serve students’ individual interests. The three approaches are;
- Learning and pedagogical research – when properly structured and executed, this research approach shall make real intellectual contributions which add and enrich the teaching-learning activities of the university. That is, preparation of new materials for use in courses, creation of teaching aids, and research on pedagogy all qualify as learning and pedagogical research contributions,
- Applied research – research activities connected with this type of research contribute to practice which contributions influence and add to professional practice in the lecturer’s field or the general public arena. Put differently, this is to say that articles in practice-oriented journals, creation and delivery of executive education courses, development of discipline-based practice tools, published reports on consulting and such other contributions, all qualify as research contributions to practice,
- Basic research --- This is basically what is otherwise known as discipline-based scholarship which adds or contributes to the theory or knowledge base of the student’s field of specialty. To this effect, published research results in the student’s specialty or, for that matter, in different areas may also be the basis for theoretical development or innovation. These kinds of intellectual contributions do also qualify as discipline-based scholarship.
It bears repeating here that the use of one or the other of the preceding modes of academic research in and within the framework of our curriculum (mirroring 6 concentrations), the PhD students shall have the necessary venues within or with which to pursue the planned academic careers in teaching and research. Should need arise, MKU School of Business and Public Management may deem it useful to customize some aspects of these research venues to conform to or serve our student academic needs better. But all such unforeseen curricular adjustments shall be done at the request of the student and his or her PhD Advisor. These three venues of intended research pursuits for our PhD students are not, in any way, intended to narrow the scope of the research mission and activities of the university in this or other area. Instead, what they do and what is intended here is to indicate a clear direction for the MKU PhD program.
In line with the preceding comments, it needs to be added that there are other major research issues that are the subject to academic inquiry and subsequent intellectual contributions derived there-from which require cross-disciplinary approaches and perspectives. Research contributions that are cross-disciplinary in content and scope are appropriate results of faculty scholarly activities and are consistent with the spirit and intent of this proposal. In such these instances, additional tenets that good research contributions should meet include some of the following tests, if not all of them:
- That they exist in public written form, and have been subjected to scrutiny by academic peers or practitioners prior to publication.
- That they specify the expected targets or outcomes of the activity,
- That they set the priority and value of different forms of intellectual contributions consistent with the program ’s goals and objectives,
- That they set clear expectations regarding quality of the intellectual contributions and how quality is assured (e.g. specific target journals or outlets, selectivity requirements, etc), and
- That they indicate the quantity and frequency of scholarly productivity needs to be met and includes peer reviewed discipline-based scholarship, contributions to practice, and/or learning and pedagogical research.
- That our student’s expected portfolio of intellectual contributions shall include a significant proportion of peer reviewed journal articles, scholarly books, research monographs, or chapters of books that are also subject to a peer review process.
2.1.3 Student Advisor
All PhD students are assigned an advisor during the very first trimester of enrollment. The duties of this advisor including working with the student in at least two critical areas:
• how to strengthen the student’s area of academic and research interests, and,
• to assist the student to start thinking, early in the program, about future and potential areas of academic career and research interests and then cultivate the development of the same.
2.1.4 Admission to the PhD program
To be admitted to MKU PhD program, applicants are required to submit a 2-paged hand-written statement of career goals and objectives showing their specific area(s) of doctoral-level interests, preparation and future research interests along with the other credentials. The required statement is expected to be sufficiently specific to enable the department and the Graduate Office to make as accurate an assessment of the applicant’s academic and research intentions, capabilities and preparation as possible.
The admission process to MKU PhD program shall have the following additional requirements:
- Submit completed application forms to the Graduate Office
- The successful applicant will have to have both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees from recognized universities; it shall be preferable (but not necessary) that at least one of the degrees be in an area of business or related to management. Also, the master's degree shall have been done with a thesis prescribed and supervised by a professor to serve as evidence of research aptitude and skills. (In this program, a “thesis” refers to a master’s degree final research-based paper while a “dissertation” refers to a doctorate in philosophy).
- Applications shall be accompanied by official transcripts for both bachelors and masters degrees,
- Pass a doctoral qualifying test; the test is both written and oral in order to determine applicant’s suitability for admission to a rigorous doctoral program,
- Submit two letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s academic preparedness and ability to successfully undertake doctoral studies; at least one of those letters should be from the applicant’s past graduate instructors.
- Individuals with other than business degrees may also apply to the MKU PhD providing measures will have been taken or shall be taken to ensure proficiency in the business administration and management knowledge and skills that are comparable to those of MKU’s PhD students.
3.0 Course and seminar offerings
3.1 Common Core
3.1.2 Accounting (select any 4 courses - 12 credits)
Accounting Theory 3Credits
Managerial Accounting 3 Credits
Advanced Accounting Seminar 3 Credits
Accounting Research Seminar 3 Credits
Financial Accounting Theory Seminar 3 Credits
3.1.3 Banking and Finance (select 4 courses)
Theory of Finance 3 Credits
Financial Markets and Institutions 3 Credits
Investment Analysis and Portfolio Theory Seminar 3 Credits
Commercial Banking Research Seminar 3 Credits
Corporate Finance Seminar 3 Credits
3.1.4 Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management (select any 4 courses)
Theories of Entrepreneurship and Innovations 3 Credits
Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development 3 Credits
Social Innovations and Social Entrepreneurship Seminar 3 Credits
Seminar in Value Chain Analysis and Markets Linkages for SME 3 credit
Entrepreneurship Research Seminar 3 Credit
3.1.5 Human Resources & Organizational Management (select 4 courses)
Advanced Human Resource Management 3 Credits
Leadership and Organizational Behavior Seminar 3 Credits
Motivation, Work Design and Performance Management 3 Credits
Seminar in Organizational Research Methods 3 Credits
Human Resource Management Seminar 3 Credits
3.1.6 Marketing Management (select 4 courses - 12 credits)
Advanced Marketing Management 3 Credits
Marketing Research and Brand Analysis 3 Credits
Markets Analysis and Marketing Strategy Seminar 3 Credits
Marketing Seminar 3 Credit
Marketing Research Seminar 3 Credits
3.1.7 Strategic Organizational Leadership & Management (select 4 courses)
Strategy Formulation and Strategic Analysis 3 Credits
Strategy Implementation, Control and Evaluation 3 Credits
Project Management Seminar 3 Credits
Strategic Management Seminar 3 Credits
Research Issues in Strategic Management 3 Credits
3.1.8 Electives (select one course - 3 credits)
Forecasting Theory and Applications 3 Credits
Production Planning and Cost Management Seminar 3 Credits
Advanced Knowledge Management Seminar 3 Credits
Managing in Global Environment Seminar 3 Credits
Information and Technology Management 3 Credits
4.0 Mode and duration of study
The program is designed to be offered to full time and part time students. A student who registers for 3 credit hours shall be considered to be on part-time mode while those registering for 6 to 9 credits shall be considered to be on full-time mode. The program is designed to take a minimum of three (3) calendar years or 9 trimesters and a maximum of five (5) calendar years or 15 trimesters for those studying on full time mode. At the request of the student and with the concurrence of his/her Advisor, the Dean, with concurrence of the PhD Committee, may extend this time frame for an additional one (1) calendar year. But barring any extenuating circumstances, when and if a full-time student shall complete 5 calendar years and fail to complete his/her degree requirements, the Dean shall recommend to the University Senate that the student be discontinued in the program. For those taking the program on part-time basis, there shall be no extension of the maximum time of 7 calendar years or 21 trimesters allowed for the completion of the program. In the event of failing to complete the program within this period, the Dean shall recommend to the University Senate that the student be discontinued in the program.
5.0 Teaching and Learning Strategy
MKU PhD program is centered on student-learning more than it is professor-lecturing teaching. At the doctoral level, students are both academically and intellectually mature enough to stand on their own professionally. With this in mind, professorial role is and should be more of a facilitator and nurturer than a lecturer. It is for this reason that the proposed program’s mode of delivery puts less emphasis on lecturing and more emphasis on student assuming greater role in his or her learning. Students are assigned materials for reading, researching the same for formal refereed class and/or seminar presentations. We offer a preferred or recommended reading list of books and journals instead of requiring or a designating one or two text books for a particular course. At the end of each area of concentration, we provide a recommended reference material for the student’s use for his/her formal refereed presentation. In summary, teaching and learning methods shall include introductory material summaries by the supervising professor, case studies, class discussion assignment on the formal and refereed Individual student presentations. (See the following three sections)
5.1 Student assessment
5.1.1 Assumptions and principles guiding student assessments
The purpose of teaching is to learn. Teaching loses its value if and when there is no learning. To facilitate and enhance learning, this program shall have an interaction forum for students and their teachers.
The workshops/seminars proposed for this program shall provide learning framework and create opportunities for sharing of knowledge and experience from professors to students, from students to professors, from students to students, and from professors to professors. A forum shall emerge for students to have access to disciplinary and interdisciplinary experts in curricular and extra curricular perspectives.
Effective teaching entails much more than just one-way communication from lecturer to students. Instructional presentations, deprived of additional student-lecturer interactions, are no more than just another form of information delivery, more to reading a book than providing doctoral-level business education. Doctoral level teaching and learning require a great deal of responsive interactions to transform the experiences into more informed advanced learning. To fulfill this requirement, this program shall have formal and regular student participation in the teaching-learning process by being required to make regular formal class presentations based on assigned and/or searched materials. All professors in the program shall rotationally guide and supervise the PhD mandatory monthly doctoral workshops and/or seminars as described here below. It is this practice of student-to-student-to-lecturer interaction that is intended to create the setting for students to have access to a variety of materials, opinions and perspectives as well as interactions with the peers on one hand and the supervising professor(s) on the other hand in order to inform and enrich the learning process. This interaction is expected to create a more coherent and integrated learning experience. Good degree programs result from coordinated professor-student interactions as well as student-to-student interactions which provide systematic and truly cumulative learning.
5.1.2 Assessing teaching and learning
In this program, both teaching and learning are interactive. Students shall be expected and required to be active participants in classroom sessions. Except for the qualifying and the comprehensive examinations (provided for elsewhere in this proposal), there shall be no other sitting examinations for the PhD students. Instead, the students shall be immersed in critical thinking and evaluating materials presented to them for formal preparation and presentation in class. This is considered to be the more effective mode of teaching and learning for prospective lecturers and researchers. Preparing a lecturer requires not only good grasp of the material but also research and presentation skills. In program’s mode of teaching and learning, the presiding professor shall lay out both the scope and depth of the material to be covered and then assign specific portions or articles or chapters or topics and/or issues to individual students to research on and prepare formal presentations in class in accordance with syllabus specification and requirement and then make formal class presentations on or off power point. The student shall submit formally prepared write-up on her/his presentation to the supervising professor. All the other students in that same class shall be required to make reasoned summary assessments of their peers’ formal presentations in writing and in accordance with provided criteria. The written assessments (both from the presenter and peers) shall be properly formatted and with specific reference to the presentations at hand and then be submitted to the supervising professor during the next seminar meeting. Finally, the supervising professor shall receive all the written materials for his/her assessment and assigning of grades both for the presenters as well as the peer assessors. This process facilitates learning through active participation in seminar-type of class meetings. All grades shall be as described here below.
5.1.3 Monthly doctoral workshops
Another key feature of MKU’s doctoral learning process shall be provided for in form of mandatory monthly workshops/seminars. These monthly meeting sessions, presided over by a professor, shall be in the form of workshop/brainstorming sessions. The practice is emulated from University of Texas, Austin, USA. In these workshops, participating students shall update their peers on their progress and challenges; provide mutual assistance and collaboration where needed and desired. Students shall be learning together and from each other. These workshops/brainstorming sessions shall continue throughout the duration of one’s enrollment in the program. Like the trimester research colloquia, there shall be no marks or grades attached to these sessions. Their value is in-built in what each student shall be able to learn from this peer interaction.
5.1.4 Grading System
The grades given for all the assessments shall be in form of letter-grades where the letter A shall represent the best performance as adjudged by the supervising professor and the lowest acceptable grade for the MKU PhD student shall be the grade of B. But MKU PhD students shall be required to maintain a GPA of 3.3 to be in acceptable academic standing in the program. This GPA may be achieved by various combinations of grades of A’s and B’s. Otherwise, the student must maintain a B+ average to stay in acceptable academic standing in the program.
5.1.5 Examination Regulations
There shall be only two sit-in written examinations as mentioned above - the qualifying and the comprehensive examinations. Also, there shall be four (4) oral examinations (after the qualifying test, the comprehensives, the research proposal defense and the dissertation defense). The rest of assessments shall be conducted as provided above.
5.1.6 Type and mode of Examinations
- Qualifying test: this shall be both written and oral; the written part is similar to the American GMAT while the oral part is similar to the comprehensive oral examination. The purpose of this test is to gauge applicant’s academic preparation for admission purposes. It shall be pass or fail as deemed by the panelists.
- Comprehensive examination; this will be both written and oral. It will be either a pass or fail.
- Dissertation research proposal defense; this is an oral examination for the dissertation research proposal and will be assessed at either pass or fail.
- Dissertation defense: this is an oral defense of the dissertation and will be assessed in accordance with the common rules and regulations governing the defense of the dissertation for the graduate programs.
5.1.7 Examination malpractices
These shall be managed as provided for in the University Policy regulations governing graduate programs
5.1.8 Comprehensive Examination
The purpose of the comprehensive examination
The purpose of the comprehensive examination is
- To establish how well the student is grounded in disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills and tools for future careers in academia, and
- To confirm that the student can indeed articulate and convey the materials absorbed both in written and oral form. The oral part of the exam is intended to check on and inquire into any actual or potential theoretical gaps in the literature as cited, presented and articulated by the student.
- To show that the student has the broad familiarity with the pertinent literature and expertise in their field because that is the mark of a good doctoral education.
- To serve as the checkpoint that confirms that the student is ready to pass on from being a student to a scholar.
- To help the student to organize and reflect on the variety of things he/she has learned from the coursework as each course taken ought to have serve as a distinct learning experience and that this examination provides the student with an opportunity to demonstrate his or her intellectual growth and the cohesiveness of the knowledge he/she has thus far acquired as a scholar
- To enhance student’s ability and preparedness to publish the recommended two refereed articles in the area of their intended research before the dissertation is successfully written and defended.
5.1.9 Where and when does comprehensive examination come in?
Comprehensive examination stands between a student’s coursework on one side and the independent, supervised research on the other. It is both retrospective (that is, what is known) and prospective (that is, preparation for research). It is also simultaneously an assessment process and an educational opportunity in oral and written communication skills, critical appraisal skills, specialized knowledge of literature, and theoretical and methodological knowledge within the discipline and beyond. The examination also comes in at that stage of the learning process when the student must develop and demonstrate her/his ability to propose, conduct, and write the dissertation. It bears repeating though that this examination does not start until and unless all the coursework is successfully completed because coursework comprises an essential part of the preparation for the comprehensive examination and the ensuing research work.
5.2.0 The grading the comprehensive examination
Grading of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination shall be conducted as follows:
- how effectively every question is addressed
- how well the data and facts on the question are organized and managed
- how soundly the pertinent literature is cited and handled
- how well does the student develop and organize his/her argument
- how good is the student’s written communication
- Finally, the examiner/reader shall make a judgment based on the assessment of the performance as to whether it (performance) warrants advancement to the next stage of the PhD process For both the written and oral comprehensives examinations, there shall be 4 possible outcomes after the examination:
Pass with Distinction
5.2.1 The Graduate Committee
This is a standing committee of the School of Graduate Studies charged with the responsibility to provide an oversight over the general conduct of the MKU PhD Program. The Committee should be appointed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Ideal membership of this committee should include an Associate Dean (Chair), the department chair, one PhD Advisor and two distinguished professors from two of the concentration options provided with the School of Graduate Studies; these two professor memberships shall rotate in accordance with the specialty needs and considerations. The PhD Coordinator shall serve as a non-voting secretary
5.2.2 The PhD Examinations Committee
This is an Ad Hoc Committee of the School of Graduate Studies whose primary purpose is to vet all the examinations – both written and oral—when and where they arise. In particular, this committee starts its work with the PhD Qualifying Test and ends with the dissertation orals. In all, there are two sit-in examinations and four orals. Its membership is appointed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies in consultation with the Associate Dean and the Department Chair. The members of this Ad Hoc Committee (which meets only when there is an examination) shall include the Associate Dean as the Chair, one PhD student Advisor (rotating), an External Examiner (selected by the Dean) and one rotating professor from one of the available specialties so long as the specialty is not the same as that of the PhD student Advisor.
5.2.3 Comprehensive examination structure
The material covered, number and format of the questions, grading criteria, and such other details, shall be determined by the PhD Committee. But as a general rule, each student who is ready to take the examination shall be given 7 questions from which he or she will be required to answer three. Of the three questions answered, two shall be directly in the generic area of concentration: one being on the content material and the other being on the research component in the generic area of concentration. The third question shall be in any area outside the area of student’s concentration as may be selected by the candidate from among the remaining 5 questions. Students shall have 4 weeks to submit 3 hard copies of each question plus one soft copy of their written answers.
5.2.4 Grading the written portion of the comprehensive exams
Upon receipt of the written comprehensive examination, the PhD Coordinator shall re-label the questions and replace student names with numbers (for example, John Doe shall become Student No. 4) from the scripts and then distribute the re-labeled scripts to three professors to grade. The process shall require that no professor shall grade more than one script from the same student. The 3 questions from one student shall be graded by 3 different professors. The idea here is to protect the student from any would-be capricious professor while at the same time ensuring that what the student has done will stand any objective assessment. Also, and for integrity purposes, it is necessary to insulate the entire process from any internal or external influences.
Those professors grading the questions shall have a maximum of 4 weeks to return the graded scripts to the PhD Coordinator who shall thereafter compile a file containing the comments from the professors who graded the material for the student to see and reflect on what the assessors said or did. This feedback shall be useful in the student’s participation in the orals.
5.2.5 Passing the written comprehensive examination
In order to pass the written comprehensive exam, a student must not receive more than one failing assessment from the three professors who read and assessed the written material.
5.2.6 Failing the written comprehensive examination
Because the written comprehensive examination is meant to be a straightforward assessment of the student's command of his or her declared field and his or her preparation to move on to the challenges of writing the dissertation research proposal, displaying competence and preparedness unequivocally in one’s specialty is imperative. Accordingly, students who do not demonstrate an effective grasp of the relevant literature and empirics or who do not effectively and explicitly answer the questions as asked will not pass. Students who do not pass the written portion of the examination on the first attempt will have to retake the examination in a subsequent trimester. Students will have 3 chances to pass this examination. Failure on the third attempt will prevent the student from going on to write a dissertation research proposal. And, in the absence of any other debilitating circumstance, the PhD Committee shall recommend to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research to discontinue the student in the program. The Dean, in conjunction with the appropriate committee of the University Senate shall advise the student accordingly.
5.2.7 The oral part of the comprehensive examination process
The oral portion of the comprehensive examination will take place about three weeks after the written. A committee of three faculty members (representing 3 different specialties) selected by the Dean in consultation with the Associate Dean and Department Chair shall administer this oral portion of the examination. Students shall a maximum of 90 minutes to respond to the panel/s comments and questions.. Each member of the committee will have a chance to ask questions, but the format may occasionally shift between relatively structured questioning and a more free-flowing discussion. The discussion will center on the student's answers for the written examination. Students shall be encouraged to have a copy of their submitted examination papers for their reference to facilitate the oral process. The scope of the examination shall not, however, be limited to the written material only. The examiners will be looking to fill in any perceived gaps in the written work, and to more generally assess the student's familiarity with the literature and empirical material.
5.2.8 Passing the oral comprehensive exam
Passing the oral comprehensive examination shall be a matter of satisfying the committee members that the student has an appropriate mastery of the central material of the field and are prepared to go on to more focused and independent work on the dissertation work. In order to pass, the student must not receive more than one negative vote from among the three members of the examining panel.
5.2.9 Failing the oral comprehensive exam
Students who do not pass the oral examination will be asked to return in one month for a second oral examination. This process shall be repeated for the second and third time. Students who do not pass the orals three times shall be required to either repeat the written portion or retake specified additional coursework so as to bridge the perceived recurring communication deficit.
5.3.0 Dissertation research proposal
After the student has successfully completed the comprehensive examination, he/she shall be asked to develop a research proposal which will ultimately guide his/her dissertation. Working with the student(s), the PhD Advisor shall encourage and prompt student(s) to think of possible topics of their research pursuits including doing publishable articles in areas of research interest, as early as possible. It is expected that by the time students get this far in their studies (approximately 30 months), they will have had enough time to reflect on their research topics and proposal.
5.3.1 The purpose of research proposal is four-fold
- to demonstrate an acceptable level of both disciplinary and interdisciplinary theoretical exposure and knowledge of pertinent literature,
- to demonstrate a commanding doctoral level in both written and oral communication
- to show the work that he/she has already completed on the topic of the planned dissertation
- to show the work that he/she plans to pursue towards the completion of the dissertation.
A successful research proposal will have been developed and vetted by a PhD advisor and defended in front of a panel of or appointed by the PhD Committee
6.0 The PhD candidacy
After a PhD student has completed the course work requirements and has passed the comprehensive examination, such a student may apply for candidacy. Candidacy is that stage of the PhD process at which the student has done much of what needs to be done for the degree and is awaiting completion, approval and defense of the dissertation. To be admitted to the candidacy, a student needs to file a candidacy form with the Graduate Studies Office and have it approved by the PhD program coordinator at least one trimester prior to the awarding of the degree. Once this approval is received, the student is deemed a PhD candidate.
6.1 Criteria for dissertation assessment
Each member of the PhD Committee shall be required to submit to the Associate Dean, an independent written assessment of the dissertation within one month. Their report should give a recommendation on the following:
• Adequacy of the dissertation in form and content;
• Reflection of the dissertation on the candidate’s understanding of the subject;
• Reflection of the dissertation on the candidate’s general technical and professional competency; and
• Whether or not the degree should be awarded.
On receipt of the Committee’s reports, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies shall convene a meeting of the Committee to consider the reports, to approve the dissertation for defence and set a date for the final defence. The candidate shall be informed immediately of the date, the time and the specific requirements for the final defence.
6.1.1 Preparing the Dissertation
The dissertation is an original project that demonstrates the student's ability to engage in independent research. Work on the dissertation may take from one to four years. The School of Graduate Studies shall require that at least two trimesters and no more than 16 trimesters, elapse between advancement to the PhD candidacy and a successful oral defense of the dissertation. Generally, this period of work shall involve frequent meetings between the student and his/her PhD Advisor, all structured around the preparation of the written material. This process shall differ from most classroom or seminar contact with the professor. The student shall prepare the material, discuss that material with the Advisor and make such changes on the document as shall be suggested by the Advisor. Depending on the need, the student may involve some other member(s) of the PhD Committee. Whether other members of the PhD Committee have been consulted by the student or not, it will always be prudent for the student to find ways of engaging his/her peers in the issues arising from his/her research especially during the mandatory monthly workshops.
Once the student's PhD Advisor has approved the dissertation for distribution, and no later than thirty (30) days before the Graduate School deadline for oral defense, the dissertation should be submitted to the PhD Committee for review. Members shall have two weeks to read the material and respond to the student Advisor stating their judgments as to whether, in their view, the dissertation is ready for oral defense or is ready for oral defense with specific changes (as indicated by the member) or a meeting of the PhD Committee needs to discuss the dissertation ahead of oral defense or the dissertation is not ready for oral defense. The PhD Advisor and the student may also request a meeting of the PhD Committee to discuss the dissertation. The PhD Committee shall have reached agreement that the dissertation is ready for oral defense when no more than one member withholds agreement. When agreement has been reached that the dissertation is ready for oral defense, the final oral examination may be scheduled.
6.1.2 Dissertation formatting
All doctoral dissertations must be in the format prescribed by MKU. The final copies of the doctoral dissertation shall be prepared according to the regulations described in the current edition of MKU’s Handbook on Graduate Studies (to be developed like much of this write-up). The person supervising the dissertation in conjunction with the PhD Committee shall examine the dissertation and determine whether or not that dissertation meets MKU PhD requirements for format and mechanical presentation. Details of the dissertation submission process are available from the School of Graduate Studies. The original and five copies of the dissertation must be delivered to the School of Graduate Studies following the dissertation defense. The original title page must be signed in black ink by all members of the PhD Committee.
6.1.3 Dissertation Research and presentation
The most clearly distinguishing characteristic of a good PhD program is the requirement that the candidate write a dissertation embodying the findings of significant original research. In order for both the research and dissertation to finally be accepted and the candidate be thus awarded the degree, it is essential that there be demonstrable new contribution to the existing pool of knowledge. In the absence of such demonstrable contribution of new knowledge, it shall be necessary for the candidate to repeat the dissertation and/or make such corrections as will be deemed necessary by the doctoral committee.
6.1.4 Dissertation oral defense
The student must file an application for the dissertation defense with the School of Graduate Studies no later than three weeks before the final date for submission of approved dissertation and dissertation defense report. The dissertation examining committee must have copies of the dissertation at least four weeks prior to the dissertation defense. The dissertation defense will be oral and open to all members of the university community. The questioning of the candidate shall be generally chaired by either the Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies or the student's principal doctoral supervisor, Other individuals attending the defense may ask questions and/or make comments. Although the defense is concerned primarily with the dissertation research and content, the Committee may explore the student's knowledge of other related areas to the core of the dissertation topic. Successful oral defense of the dissertation shall constitute the final examination for the degree which must be completed and accepted within 60 months from the date of entry into the program.