Nithyananda Hindu University

Home > News

Doctor of Philosophy Handbook


1.1  The Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. degree program is offered to students wishing to enhance their knowledge and competence in teaching and research and to contribute to scholarship in a specialized area of the 30 departments and 14 schools at KAILASA’s NHU. The Ph.D. is a research doctorate and requires students to give evidence of the highest standards of scholarship at every stage of the degree program.

The primary learning outcomes of the PhD include:

  1. a breadth of knowledge and in other cognate disciplines with mastery of knowledge in a particular academic discipline;
  2. capacity to conduct advanced scholarly research and writing that makes an original contribution to the discipline that is significant for the academy, society, and humanity;
  3. growth in one’s identity as a researcher, including:
    • the ability to access appropriate resources in the study of one’s discipline, to analyze and assess critically the findings of others, and to synthesize existing knowledge with one’s findings;
    • the ability to employ primary doctoral-level research methods appropriate to the study of one’s chosen discipline; and
    • the ability to communicate one’s research appropriately to scholars within one’s discipline and to other scholars, professionals, or the public beyond one’s discipline;
  4. growth in one’s identity as a teacher, including:
    • the ability to design a course with appropriate, achievable, and measurable learning outcomes; the ability to facilitate and evaluate learning within a course through a variety of methods;
  5. growth in one’s professional identity as a scholar within the academy, including:
    • familiarity with the teaching profession and the academy; the responsibilities and expectations of a faculty member; and the ethical standards of one’s discipline;
    • a commitment to collaborative inquiry, mentoring, publication, and other modes of transferring knowledge
    • growth in one’s capacity for a robust embrace of and engagement with social and theological diversity and one’s capacity to relate across differences.

1.2  Graduate Committee (GC)

The Graduate Committee (GC) is a faculty committee providing oversight for the operation of graduate degrees. Concerning the Ph.D., the GC reviews and approves dissertation prospectuses considers some student degree program petitions, makes recommendations to the faculty regarding degree program policies, and monitors student academic progress.

All prospectuses and other material submitted for approval and all petitions for extensions or exceptions arising out of the stipulations in this handbook should be directed in writing to the Committee through the Program Coordinator.


In the admissions process, each student is assigned to a faculty advisor. Ordinarily, students work with their assigned advisor through their qualifying exams and that advisor becomes the student’s first reader on the prospectus and dissertation.

Pathway of Learning (Summary)

  • Dissertation Prospectus
  • First Draft of Dissertation
  • Draft of Dissertation for Defense
  • Final Oral Examination/Defense of Dissertation
    • Submission of Final Draft of Dissertation

Following a successful defense, the candidate submits the completed dissertation, incorporating changes required at the defense.

Maximum Time Allowable for Ph.D. Degree

The University expects students in the Ph.D. degree program to complete the degree within five years.

There is a seven-year limit for completion of the Ph. D. degree, from matriculation to graduation. In extraordinary situations, extensions beyond seven years may be granted by petition to the GC. No petition for extension beyond ten years will be granted.


A Ph.D. dissertation should include original research based on firsthand investigation, with clearly developed theoretical foundations, of a problem related to the student’s academic discipline. In special instances, research involving the laying of theoretical foundations may be accepted as fulfilling the requirement.

2.1 Administrative Guidelines

2.1.1 Securing a Reader

Normally, the First Reader of the dissertation will be the student’s advisor. Note that if the subject of the dissertation will focus on the analysis of the work of the advisor or reader, the prospectus should be accompanied by a notice acknowledging this factor in the advising relationship and detailing how the student and the advisor or reader will deal with it. If necessary, an additional outside reader, not tied to the work being analyzed, may be included.

2.1.2 Preparing the Prospectus

Before beginning to prepare a prospectus, students should review their academic transcripts with their advisors to determine that all requirements have been satisfied and recorded. When all such requirements have been completed, the student should work with the Readers to shape the thesis project and draft a prospectus. Students must submit a prospectus to the Advanced Studies Committee. Failure to do so will result in an Academic Review by the GC.

2.1.3 Submitting the Prospectus to the GC

Every prospectus submitted to the GC thereby becomes a public document within the school.

Students are allowed a maximum of 3 submissions. Failure to gain approval by the third submission, or by the end of the third year after completion of coursework, whichever comes first, will result in academic review by the GC.

2.1.4 Candidacy for the Degree

A candidate for the PhD is a student who has completed all academic requirements (coursework, language and qualifying examinations, prospectus) except for the dissertation. Only after students have an approved prospectus in hand may they refer to themselves as candidates for the degree.

2.2 Content and Format Guidelines for the Dissertation Prospectus

The following guidelines are meant to serve as a framework for students and faculty.

2.2.1 Elements of a Dissertation Prospectus  Statement of the Problem

The prospectus should begin with a simple and concise statement of the problem or question that the dissertation is meant to address. It can usually be done in one sentence followed by a few explanatory sentences. Use this section of the Prospectus to circumscribe your topic and to state, in a preliminary way, the thesis you intend to defend. Remember that you are trying to communicate with the experts in your field and knowledgeable non-specialists. Avoid jargon or technical language as much as possible.  Significance of the Problem

In this section, you should explain how your dissertation will contribute to and advance the scholarship in the field.  Be prepared to answer the question, “So what?” As part of your explanation of the project’s significance, you should describe the body of literature and theory that will serve as its foundation. What other scholars have wrestled with the problem before you, and how will your research and analysis move beyond theirs? In addition, you should note why and how your project might be significant for religious communities and their leaders.  Method of Investigation

This prospectus section should describe the scholarly activity you will pursue to accomplish your task. It should describe the primary and secondary sources that will form the basis for your analysis and reflection.  What is the body of information (texts, observations, interviews, historical events, set of ideas) that will form the focus of your work? And, what are the primary critical and analytical strategies you anticipate bringing to the topic? That is, describe the methods (e.g., theological, historical, critical, sociological, reflective, practical, etc.) by which you will pursue your study. Make sure that the critical and normative dimension of your work is clear. On what grounds will you evaluate what you have learned?  Sources of the Study

What sources of information will be necessary for pursuing this topic in the way you have proposed? Do you have access to the literature, archives, persons, and/or observation sites you will need? In this section, outline what resources you will need and identify how you will gain access to them. If you intend to gather primary data (e.g., through interviews, questionnaires, and systematic observation), you should briefly describe the method and foci of your research. A full copy of your research instruments or guides should be supplied in an appendix.  Limitations and Plans for Completion

Make clear any limitations that are inherent to the nature of the project or that have been deliberately set to limit the scope of the undertaking. Explain the reasons for the limitations. Provide an estimated timeline for completing your work.  Working Outline

Provide an outline of the proposed chapters and a brief (2-3 sentence) description of the points to be covered in each.  Working Bibliography

List and comment, where appropriate, on the sources you plan to use for your study and on secondary work relevant to your subject. Organize the bibliography by categories and provide an introductory paragraph. A complete and thorough bibliography is likely to be at least ten pages in length  Appendices.

As noted above, all research instruments should be included in an appendix, along with your draft informed consent document (if needed). Other essential background documents may be included as needed.   Definitions

Throughout the document, the student should be clear about how key words and concepts are being used. If there is extensive special vocabulary, an appendix of definitions may be used. Length of the Prospectus.

Normally the body of the prospectus should be limited to 15 pages of typewritten, double-spaced text; the bibliography and appendices are not counted within those pages.  Format of the Prospectus

The prospectus should be submitted with a title page formatted according to the sample page shown in the thesis guide. Footnotes should be done according to Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, currently in its seventh edition (2007). See the thesis guide for more information.


3.1 Administrative Guidelines for the Dissertation

Each student should work out an acceptable modus operandi with her or his readers. Most find it very useful to submit chapters as they are completed. Some will wish to do a whole draft before submitting it, though the latter process entails certain obvious risks.

3.2 Drafts of the Dissertation

3.2.1 Preliminary Draft

The initial draft of the dissertation, or parts of the dissertation, is submitted to the first reader for guidance and suggestions on revision. These drafts should be fully legible, footnoted, and in proper English, but they need not meet the stylistic form requirements of a completed dissertation. Approval of such drafts is always subject to further revision when the reader sees the whole dissertation.

3.2.2 Official First Draft

This is the first formal draft of the complete dissertation, incorporating revisions and modifications recommended following the reading of the preliminary draft. This should be formatted, and include the title page, table of contents, and bibliography.

3.2.3 Examination Draft

Before the oral examination, a complete and formatted draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the defense committee three weeks before the oral defense.

3.2.4 Final Draft, Content and Format Guidelines

One model of a written thesis is as follows:

  1. The Problem and its Setting
  2. The Literature Review
  3. The Methodology
  4. Presentation of the Findings
  5. Analysis, Interpretation, Evaluation
  6. Discussion, Implications, Recommendations
  7. Conclusion


4.1 Role of the Abstract

When the first full draft of the thesis is completed and the structure of the thesis begins to appear, the student begins to develop the Abstract. This document summarizes the thesis and will eventually be published in Dissertation Abstracts.

4.2 Abstract Guidelines

The Abstract is a statement summarizing the major or important points of the dissertation in 350 words. The Abstract must be approved by the GC.

Final revisions to the abstract may be made after the oral defense, but students should not view this first version as only a “rough draft.” This is the only version circulated to the examining committee. The final version will be submitted to the Library with the final version of the dissertation and will be published in Dissertation Abstracts.

Provide a succinct statement of the thesis in the opening paragraph. Then briefly describe the history and present state of the topic. End the paragraph with a statement of how the current thesis advances the topic. Subsequent paragraphs should summarize the central arguments supporting the thesis including methodology and results. The final paragraph encapsulates the dissertation and what the thesis has accomplished. Implications for further study are also stated.

4.3 Approval of  the Abstract by the GC

When the first draft of the Abstract has been reviewed the student should obtain their signatures.


Related News

Subscribe for updates.

Stay informed about our University's latest news and events. Subscribe for updates today!