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Admission to a doctoral degree program is preliminary to, and distinct from, admission to candidacy. Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is a judgment by the faculty of the student's potential to successfully complete the requirements of the degree program. Students are expected to complete department qualifying procedures and apply for candidacy by the end of their second year in the Ph.D. program. Honors Cooperative students must apply by the end of their fourth year.

The Application for Candidacy specifies a departmentally approved program of study to fulfill degree requirements, including required course work, language requirements, teaching requirements, dissertation (final project and public lecture-demonstration for D.M.A.), and University oral examination (for Ph.D.). At least 3 units of work must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members.

If the Ph.D. student is pursuing a minor, approval by the department awarding the minor is also required on the Application for Candidacy.

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