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Guideline on Sixth-year Funding

6th year funding policy for PhD students at the Smeal College of Business

The Penn State Graduate School policy is that Ph.D. students must complete their dissertation within eight years of passing the Qualifying Exam and individual programs may set shorter time limits. Consistent with this policy, the Smeal College commits to funding all Ph.D. students for five-years of full-time study contingent on satisfactory progress and performance in the program but does not mandate a shorter time limit.  Thus, the Smeal College maintains a distinction between time-in-the-program and financial support.

Under certain circumstances, it may be beneficial for Ph.D. students to receive a sixth year of funding to allow them to complete the program and increase the prospects of realizing the College’s goal for placements at top research institutions.  A student’s dissertation chair (or advisor) may submit a written request to the student’s department chair requesting a sixth-year graduate assistantship.

Dissertation chairs should submit sixth-year petitions by September 30 of the fifth year to facilitate timely review and provide the student with time to make provisions should the petition be denied.  

The department chair, in consultation with the departmental Ph.D. coordinator, is responsible for determining whether to grant the request for the sixth-year graduate assistantship. Furthermore, the department chair is responsible for creating the criteria and procedure used in evaluating the petition.  

Reviews and decisions on petitions should be made by November 15.  The outcome of the review should be communicated in writing to the student and the student’s dissertation chair with a copy sent to the Smeal College PhD Program Office.

At the end of each academic year, the department chair will provide a written report to the College’s PhD Program Director regarding the disposition of any request for sixth-year graduate assistantships received that year.

The department chair and department PhD coordinator are jointly responsible for communicating to the students in their area the criteria and procedures used in evaluating the petitions and will provide a written copy of the criteria and procedures to the Smeal College PhD Program Office and Director for inclusion in the College’s PhD Program Handbook and webpage.  

As with all graduate assistantship positions, the actual work assignments are determined by the student’s respective department chair.  Teaching assignments in the sixth-year are allowed and will not count against the College’s policy of having students teach no more than three times during their tenure in the program.


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Management and Organization
M&O Comprehensive Exam Policy


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