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All But Dissertation Cmu

After completion of all formal Ph.D. degree requirements other than the completion of and approval of the doctoral dissertation, and the public final examination, doctoral candidates shall be regarded as ABD (all but dissertation). The College of Engineering and CMU rules recognize two categories of ABD (All but Dissertation) doctoral students:

  • ABD Students In Absentia (Registrar
  • ABD Students In Residence.

University policies governing ABD status are available at: http://www.cmu.edu/policies/DSS.html. The major features of these policies are summarized below, and college-specific procedures are described.

In absentia status for ABD candidates
An ABD doctoral candidate may, upon departmental certification thereof, be regarded as being in absentia when and, so long as, the following three conditions concur:

  • The candidate has been enrolled as a full-time doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University for at least one academic year. Part-time graduate enrollment may, at the department's discretion, be counted pro rata towards this total.
  • The candidate does not receive a stipend predicated on his or her status as a graduate student or doctoral candidate and paid by or administered by the university (whether teaching or research assistantship, scholarship, or fellowship).
  • The student does not require substantial use of University resources. Note: Departmental certification of this condition shall be subject to guidelines established by the school or college. Typically, substantial use shall include: office space other than desk space, if available; all but minimal use of laboratory space or university-furnished laboratory equipment and expendables; and all use of computer resources that is not specifically exempted for thesis text preparation. In absentia candidates shall be permitted use of the libraries or consultation with faculty or students (in particular, with a thesis advisor or members of the advising and thesis committees). The university will provide in absentia candidates with identification for access to the library and other services permitted under the guidelines.

ABD students in absentia will not be certified by the university as a "student" for immigration or loan purposes. "Non-resident alien" students on J-1 or F-1 visas who become ABD in absentia must continue to follow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations and maintain their status as "full-time students." Any questions about employment or about leaving Carnegie Mellon for extended periods of time should be coordinated with the Office of International Education (OIE).

While an ABD candidate is in absentia, no formal enrollment or payment of tuition shall be required to maintain doctoral candidacy status, with the exception of the academic semester in which the degree requirements are to be completed.

An ABD candidate who is in absentia shall be required to change from In Absentia to In Residence and enroll for a minimum of five units of graduate study during the final academic semester in which the degree requirements are to be completed; in default of which a fee equal to the corresponding tuition shall be paid before the degree is conferred. The student cannot receive any financial support from the university.

In addition, all ABD students in absentia will be responsible each semester for the technology fee, which provides them with an Andrew email id and access to university-licensed software.

In residence status for ABD candidates
ABD students in Residence may be certified as full-time students for immigration purposes. Ordinarily, ABD students in Residence in the College of Engineering are required to register for a minimum of 36 units of academic credit per term, except that: "Under exceptional circumstances, ABD students who are self-supported, and who can demonstrate financial hardship, may petition the College through the departments for permission to register for 5 units of thesis research per semester." The exceptional circumstances for such approval include:

  • Self-supporting with demonstrated financial hardship.
  • At least three years of full-time student status.
  • Good standing and progress towards a degree.
  • No more than two semesters of required work; ABD with In Residence status and 5 units of tuition per term will not be allowed for more than two semesters of work, where a summer is considered to be one semester.

Download the ABD petition template

All doctoral degree candidates enrolled as In Residence students and who are supported by the university must be registered for thirty-six units for the entirety of their final semester and will be assessed full-time tuition. If a student completes all Ph.D. degree requirements and is certified by:

  • September 30th (in the fall), or February 28th (in the spring), tuition will be adjusted to $0; however, they will remain enrolled for thirty-six units for the semester.
  • October 31st (in the fall), or March 31st (in the spring), tuition will be adjusted to 50% of the full-time tuition; however, they will remain enrolled for thirty-six units for the semester.
  • After October 31st (in the fall), or after March 31st (in the spring), but BEFORE the first day of the next semester, tuition will not be adjusted and they will remain enrolled for thirty-six units for the semester.
  • Fees will not be adjusted.

Doctoral candidates' departments shall notify the Registrar's Office of the appropriate financial arrangement.

(policy revised 10/06/2011)

ABD Status

Enrollment - In Residence (On Campus)

In Residence students enroll like all other students - they must meet all registration and payment deadlines (as listed on the Academic Calendar). In Residence students are verified as full-time students, provided they are registered and enrolled for loan deferments (and other third-party verifications).

In Residence students may cross-register for courses through the Cross-Registration (PCHE) program. Those who wish to cross-register must make sure that their total units are 36 or greater (not including the number of units for the cross-registered course) in order to not be assessed an additional tuition charge. Students who are only registered for 5 units are not eligible to cross-register.

Final Semester - In Residence

In Residence students remain on campus to finish their dissertation. They must register and pay for a minimum of 5 units each semester. The student's department determines the number of units actually taken (5 if non-support, or 36 if supported), following college and university policies. The student's department is also responsible for ensuring that In Residence students are registered for the appropriate number of units each semester.

Enrollment - In Absentia (Off Campus)

ABD students In Absentia finish their dissertations off campus. They do not register and are not charged tuition (except for their final semester). Students In Absentia will be assessed the technology fee each semester they are In Absentia.

Students In Absentia are not verified as students (either full-time or part-time) to loan agencies or outside organizations, and may not cross-register for courses. Because they are not in student status, some international students cannot become In Absentia. Please contact the Office of International Education for more information.

In Absentia students have only limited access to university facilities, such as libraries and computer clusters. Since students In Absentia are not registered for courses and are not charged tuition and relevant ID Card-related fees (i.e., transportation, activity), their Carnegie Mellon ID Card access privileges are deactivated. ID Cards for In Absentia students are not renewable unless a student's status changes to In Residence

Final Semester - In Absentia

In Absentia students must register and pay for a minimum of 5 units during their final semester of degree completion. There will be no adjustment to tuition regardless of certification date when registered for 5 units. Once the student is certified, in order to have tuition assessed, the department must submit an ABD Status Change (pdf) form and a Doctoral Student Tuition Adjustment (pdf) form.

The student's enrollment status will then be changed from In Absensia to Conditionally Enrolled, their program code will be changed from In Absentia to In Residence, the course will be added to their academic record, and tuition will be assessed for 5 units. The student is responsible for paying tuition. When the student's account is paid in full, enrollment status will then be changed from Conditionally Enrolled to Enrolled.

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