Doctoral Program For All But Dissertation

ABD Waiver Program

In 2010 the Graduate School began offering an assistantship service through the “All But Dissertation” (ABD) Waiver Program. This program offers numerous benefits for faculty and students, but most specifically, it encourages the use of extramural grants in support of students seeking their doctoral degrees. The Graduate School will process, monitor, and approve all students who qualify for ABD waivers.

Some of these benefits include

  • Decreasing time-to-degree by offering a set period of five (5) semesters
  • Offering a tangible incentive to move students to ABD status
  • Motivating students to successfully complete their final defense
  • Increasing the PhD graduation number per year with the goal to align WSU with the Association of American Universities (AAU)

To qualify

Fill out an application [PDF] and return to The Graduate School French Administration 324 (mail zip 1030). Application must be submitted prior the first day of semester you are requesting the ABD waiver (8/16 or 1/1).

  • Be formally appointed to a graduate research assistantship appointment, enrolled in 10-18 credits, through the Graduate School.
  • Complete all formal coursework on Program of Study
  • Complete the preliminary exam by the last day of the semester prior to initiation of the ABD waiver
  • Be funded (≥.50 FTE) from competitive extramural grants via graduate research assistantship
  • Effective Spring 2018, there are changes to the ABD waiver program for students on extensions for their time to degree. The goals of the ABD waiver program are to encourage the use of extramural funds to support students seeking doctoral degrees and to decrease time-to-degree. In order to ensure program effectiveness, a student on a second or third extension of time to degree is not eligible for an ABD waiver. The eligibility for an ABD waiver of students on a first extension will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

After students qualify, they will

  • Be eligible to receive an ABD tuition waiver for up to five academic semesters.
  • The PERMS should indicate the Preliminary Exam Completion Date as “Prelim Passed MM/DD/YYYY” in the waiver comments section.
  • Waivers will be established at the same values as the current fiscal year Operating Fee Waiver and Non-Resident Waivers value if applicable.


"All but dissertation" (ABD) is a term identifying a stage in the process of obtaining a research doctorate in the United States.


In typical usage of the term, the ABD student has completed the required preparatory coursework, and passed any required preliminary and comprehensive examinations, but has not completed the research requirements, typically including the writing and defense of a dissertation.[1] A student attaining this level 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 (M.Phil. or MPhil) degree for these achievements.[2][3][4] In some universities, All But Dissertation is a formal status.[5]

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



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