How does meeting the Ph.D. degree requirements impact stipends and health insurance?

Date: January 2022


Dear Deans, 

I have some questions regarding graduation and completion of Ph.D. requirements as they relate to stipends and health insurance. My understanding is that the Ph.D. degree requirements are officially complete when the finalized dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School, even if degree conferral is not until the end of the semester. However, what happens if that completion occurs mid-semester, for example, in February of spring semester? Do assistantship payments and expectations immediately stop upon completion of degree requirements? Would fellowship stipends received at the beginning of the semester (January, in this example) be required to be paid back in a pro-rated amount? Is the (former) student responsible for paying the premium on student health insurance for the remainder of the semester? Having a clear answer to these questions would be very helpful to students who are nearing graduation and need to be aware of any potential funding implications involved.  

Thank you,

Questions about degree completion


Dear Questions about degree completion,

You are correct that Ph.D. degree requirements are officially complete when the finalized dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School. This occurs after full approval of the dissertation submission in ProQuest by all special committee members.

If degree completion occurs early in the semester, students can remain in an active status for the remainder of the semester, or they can request a leave upon completion status. A leave upon completion is most typically requested when a student has accepted a job or postdoc position that requires a non-active student status. In this case, assistantships are ended on the day the dissertation is approved by the special committee and the student status is changed to leave status until the degree is conferred.

Continued funding depends on the allowability as determined by the rules of the sponsor. If you are funded on a federally sponsored award, I would recommend working with your department to see what is allowable on the grant and how your stipend or health insurance may be prorated if your student status changes in the middle of the semester. The grant administrator can check in on this for you and provide you with the options as you plan to defend your dissertation.

Best of luck to you,

Brenda Wakoff
Director of Student Services and Registrar

Holly Boulia
Director of Fellowships