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Research Skills Requirement, Doctoral


To define the expectations for doctoral research skills prior to the comprehensive examination for graduate students admitted Fall 2011 or before.

Applies to: 

Graduate students admitted Fall 2011 or before.

Policy Statement: 

Specific research skills requirements vary with graduate degree programs, but all reflect the expectation of a significant research skill component distinct from, but strongly supportive of, the dissertation. Traditionally, a reading knowledge of two (2) foreign (non-English) languages, a demonstrated competence in reading, writing, and speaking in one (1) foreign language, or a reading knowledge of one (1) foreign language and demonstrated proficiency in some other research skill, such as computer science, has been required. However, to fit research training to the needs of the individual student, some programs have found it appropriate to regard as research skills formal training in ancillary areas or within a broad spectrum of skills. A statement concerning research skills should appear in each departmental or program section of this catalog and in any graduate study guides issued by departments, programs, or schools.

This policy applies to doctoral students admitted prior to Fall 2011. Doctoral students admitted Fall 2011 or later must adhere to the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship Policy.

When the aspirant has met the requirements for research skills recommended by the program and approved by the school, the program must report this fact to the Graduate Division on the appropriate form, certifying that the student is prepared to proceed to the comprehensive oral examination. If a program requires research skills that are tested separately from the program, completion of each requirement should be reported immediately to the Graduate Division so that it may be recorded on the student’s permanent record.

Because foreign language and computer science competences are the most commonly used research skills requirements, the formal procedures that have been established for demonstration of these competences are listed here for guidance.

Foreign Language

An aspirant who wishes to demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language ordinarily may do so in one of two ways: (1) pass a language examination devised and administered by the student’s own department in consultation with the appropriate KU language department or (2) complete DANE 101, DTCH 101, FREN 100, GERM 101, ITAL 100, RUSS 101, or SPAN 100 with a grade of C or higher, or LAT 101 with a grade of B or higher. If some other language is proposed, arrangements should be made through the major or departmental adviser with the appropriate language department or competent testing authority. Some graduate degree programs accept as evidence of language competence the certification of a graduate student by a qualified KU professor in a given language at the fourth level of competence in reading, comprehension, and speaking or accept 16 hours in a single language taken at this or another university as a graduate or undergraduate student. Requirements for demonstrating competence in reading, writing, and speaking one (1) foreign language are set by the language departments. The student should ask these departments for further information and advice. In all cases, the Graduate Division should be notified which method each student has used to satisfy this requirement.

A student whose native language is not English may use the native language to fulfill the language requirement only if the language is considered an adequate research tool for the program.

Computer Science

To establish competence in computer science, a student must (a) demonstrate proficiency in a commonly used programming language and (b) create at least one (1) original program on a problem that is certified by the graduate degree program as important and relevant to the field of study.

As specified by the graduate degree program, requirement (a) may be met by passing an examination developed and administered by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science or by satisfactorily completing an appropriate course in computer science. In consultation with the department, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science provides certification of requirement (b).


Office of Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Effective on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Research, research skills, research requirements, language requirement
Change History: 

07/27/2023: Added Approved by, updated policy formatting.

Academic Categories: 
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