Ph.D. Program Handbook (Procedures)

The new Ph.D. Program Handbook was published in February 2024. It provides extensive practical information for students (and faculty) on how to satisfy various requirements, or to otherwise accomplish tasks as part of the Ph.D. program in Linguistics. Much of the information will also be relevant to MA students. The official rules for the Ph.D. program are listed on this accompanying page.

This page used to be called Procedures. The Handbook supersedes the Procedures. For the time being, graduation information is still listed on this page rather than in the Handbook.

If you have further questions after reading the Handbook, please contact


As the dissertation work reaches an end, the student will need to complete various steps to ensure graduation on schedule. The formal diploma ceremony is in May; if graduation is delayed until August, the student can participate in this ceremony only if certain steps are taken by early May, including certification by the committee that the student is expected to be done in time for the August degree. Otherwise August graduates, like December graduates, are invited to the following May ceremony.

The Office of the Provost oversees the graduation process. Be sure to follow the deadlines for graduation, since they are strictly enforced. You should make use of the graduation checklist. Students who defend by the end of the fifth week of the term to receive a tuition waiver must deposit within 30 days of that deadline.

There are two main steps that you must take care of well in advance:

  • Apply for the degree with the Graduate Division. You should do this early in the term in which you wish to graduate. 
  • Set up an appointment for deposit of the final version of the dissertation or thesis. The appointment simply reserves time for the staff member to review your document, and you must upload your pdf two days beforehand. Make the appointment as soon as possible, or you may find it difficult to get your desired time.

Pay careful attention to the required formatting of the dissertation or thesis. The title page optionally includes the signatures of the supervisor and the graduate chair, but the other members of the committee do not sign this page.

All forms are online and will be prepared by Colin Bonner, but it is the student's responsibility to make the necessary information and materials available in a timely manner. The Acceptance of Dissertation requires the signatures of the entire dissertation committee as well as the graduate chair. The student must submit the exact title and the names of the committee members at least two weeks before the appointment to deposit the dissertation; otherwise the form will be processed for the next degree cycle.

The graduate group is expected to approve the final dissertation for its essential formatting before it is deposited, so provide the pdf to the chair for review before you upload it.

You must ensure that you do not owe any money to the bursar, or else your degree will not be processed. If for some reason you change or cancel your appointment to deposit the dissertation, notify Colin immediately.

Note that the LSA offers a free one-year membership for recent PhD recipients. At Penn, the Vice Provost for University Life offers a wide range of career services.

Graduates should be aware that their Penn digital accounts – including email and PennBox – will become unavailable at some point after graduation, so they should make prompt arrangements to move to other services.

See also this general list of links to resources for graduate students.