All but dissertation

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"All but dissertation" (ABD) is a term identifying a stage in the process of obtaining a research doctorate in the United States and other countries. In typical usage of the term, the ABD graduate student has completed the required preparatory coursework, passed any required preliminary, comprehensive, doctoral qualifying examinations, and met all other requirements except for the research requirements, typically including the writing and defense of a dissertation.[1] The informal ABD designation also indicates that someone is no longer simply a doctoral student, but rather has formally upgraded their status to a doctoral candidate and has entered the most advanced phase of their research and dissertation development.[2]

A student attaining this level also may be granted a formal Candidate in Philosophy degree or status at a few institutions. Some universities, including Columbia, Yale, and George Washington, may award a formal Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree for these achievements.[3][4][5]

The use of ABD or the similar PhD(c) for PhD candidate (also PhD-c or PhDc) as a credential has been criticized as potentially misleading by some writers as the terms are not widely understood outside of academia[6][7] or indeed outside of the US.


  1. ^ Schuman, Rebecca (1 August 2014). "ABD Company". Slate. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  2. ^ Kuther, Tara (16 October 2019). "Understanding the Definition of a Doctoral Candidate". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Master of Philosophy". Columbia Business School. New York: Columbia University. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Doctor of Philosophy Program". Yale School of Architecture. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  5. ^ "PhD Requirements". Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Washington: George Washington University. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  6. ^ Novotney, Amy (September 2016). "The Misuse of PhD(c): Why a Designation Used by Some Students Is Seen as Unethical". Monitor on Psychology. Vol. 47 no. 8. p. 36. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  7. ^ Chinn, Peggy L. (29 June 2011). "How to List Your Credentials and Title When You Publish". ANS: Advances in Nursing Science Blog. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Retrieved 27 August 2017.