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The curriculum of the COMD Ph.D. program is designed to provide students with the necessary foundational courses and research experiences to support a productive academic career. Every student will have a unique curriculum designed to ensure academic rigor, quality instruction and future marketability. 

Required Courses

The COMD Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 54 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond a master’s degree. Students applying to the Ph.D. program having completed only a bachelor’s degree must complete an additional 30 credit hours at the graduate level in COMD and related fields for a minimum of 84 total credit hours. As part of the program of study, students will be required to complete all the coursework listed below. For a sample program of study, please see the COMD Graduate Handbook.

Semester Credit Hour (SCH) Requirements by Category 

Category SCH Entering with a Bachelor’s Degree SCH Entering with a Master’s Degree

Advanced Statistics 

COMD Advanced Research Methods 

Grant Writing 

Teaching Methods 

COMD Proseminar 

Selected Topics in COMD 

Electives Outside the Major 

COMD Research 




Graduate level credits 


Other (e.g., internships, clinical work, residencies) 




Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment

Students have the option of full-time or part-time enrollment in the UH COMD Ph.D. program. Full-time enrollment consists of nine credit hours per semester; part-time enrollment consists of up to six credit hours per semester. The curriculum plan for students choosing part-time enrollment must still be completed within the 10-year time frame stipulated by the University of Houston. Some types of funding may not be available to part-time students. Please check the Student Handbook for more detailed information on current policies and procedures.

Requirements to Complete the Program

Initial Research Project

Doctoral students will complete an initial research project under the direction of their primary mentor in which they will pose a novel research question, analyze data and interpret findings. This initial research project may be developed from previously collected research data or from pilot data collected by the student. Students will produce: 1. a complete manuscript and 2. an oral presentation to be defended before their Curriculum Planning Committee.

Comprehensive Exam

Nearing the completion of the coursework (typically after four full semesters or approximately 40 credit hours), students must pass a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam includes a written component as determined by the student’s Curriculum Planning Committee and an oral defense following submission of the written portion. Successful comprehensive exams will be approved by the Curriculum Planning Committee.


Prior to being considered a doctoral candidate, students must have:

  • Successfully completed the initial research project
  • Passed the written and oral portions of the comprehensive examination
  • Completed or be nearing completion of their coursework (approximately 40 credit hours beyond the master’s degree or 70 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree)
  • Successfully completed and passed a prospectus of their dissertation

Dissertation Prospectus

The purpose of the prospectus is to ensure that the student’s dissertation project is both sound and feasible. The prospectus will include:

  1. A written component comprised of a review of the literature, purpose, hypotheses/research questions and method sections of the dissertation
    2. An oral presentation of the written document

Successful prospectuses will be approved by the student’s Dissertation Committee.

Doctoral Dissertation

A student must complete and successfully defend a dissertation based on original research in order to complete the doctoral degree. Full-time students are expected to complete three dissertation hours per semester for four semesters. All students must enroll in a minimum of one hour of dissertation credit for consecutive semesters until the dissertation is completed or until the 10-year time frame for completion is met.

Students should follow the current dissertation/thesis guidelines set forth in the UH Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Information page. The Student Handbook contains further information, forms and links.