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DXARTS Ph.D - Degree Timeline & Requirements

Degree Timeline 

Phase One:  Coursework & Qualifying Exam an Critique

One to two-year period of study, depending on a student's previous training and accomplishments. 


Coursework in an interdisciplinary core curriculum chosen from DXARTS and partner departments.  Students will devise a course of study in this phase with advice and approval of their primary faculty advisor.  Phase One students must take at least four courses from the list of 400 and 500 level DXARTS courses approved by faculty advisor, and must also register for Research Studio (DXARTS 500) every quarter.  

Qualifying Exam and Critique

Upon completion of the above requirements and no later than the 6th quarter of study students will present a selection of their work done during Phase One to their Critique Committee in the following format:

  • The Qualifying Written Examination:
    The written portion of the qualifying examination is two short Field essays (1000 words) designed in consultation with the student's exam committee, which are generally configured as follows: 
    • Field One: on the history and theory of the candidate's mediums of engagement.
    • Field Two: on the importance of their particular arts practice providing a brief comparative perspective between personal arts philosophy and a broader reflection of current invention, innovation, and experimentation in their areas of engagement.
  • The Qualifying Critique:  
    The Qualifying Critique is a preliminary oral examination conducted by the DXARTS faculty. The substance of the meeting is both retrospective and prospective. It includes discussion both of the student's work at DXARTS to that point and of conceptualizations and plans for future directions. The latter should be taken seriously as a preliminary view into the student's dissertation research. The examination also covers the evolution of the student's new technical knowledge and virtuosity gained since entering the program. It It is the student's opportunity to demonstrate their appetite for invention, technological risk-taking, and successful integration and adaptation of new tools in their arts practice since entering the program. Upon passing the Qualifying Exam, the student continues to work toward the Doctoral Exam for Graduate Candidacy in Phase Two.  
Phase One Completion Requirements: 
  •   Total Credit Hours in Phase One: minimum 30

  •    Passing of Qualifying Exam

Phase Two: General Exam For Doctoral Candidacy

One to two-year period of continued study and artistic production which begins after successfully passing the Qualifying Critique.


Coursework with increasing focus on a small number of specific areas accompanied by significant semi-independent research and creative work. Students must also continue to register for Research Studio (DXARTS 500) every quarter.

General Exam

The General Examination for Doctoral Candidacy is administered after the student has passed the Qualifying Critique. The exam is typically taken at the end of the student's third year. Prior to the General Examination at the end of phase two, six quarters of full-time study must be completed (Some students may require longer preparation before being approved to take the General Examination). Part-time quarters may be added together to equal full-time 10 credit quarters, but three out of four consecutive quarters must be full-time. None of the credits earned for this requirement may be in DXARTS 800 (Final Doctoral Project) credits. The General Exam is comprised of the following components: 

  • Application of Technique:
    • This part of the exam will take place over a four to seven-day period. The student will be given a project to accomplish within their primary areas of focus.
  • Oral Exam: 
    • If the student's Supervisory Committee has decided that the Application of Technique part of the exam was completed successfully, the student will take the Oral Exam no less than 1 week after the beginning of the project period and no more than 2 weeks afterwards. This part of the General Exam is approximately 1.5 hours. The student may be questioned about their carrying out of the application component of the exam as well as a range of technical and creative subjects pertinent to Digital Arts and Experimental Media.

The purpose of the General examination is:

  • To determine whether the student has acquired the necessary background in at least two major areas of Digital and Experimental Arts as well as background appropriate for his/her proposed research.

  • To determine whether the student is able to draw on this background to continue to progress in their research and creative work in a primarily independent manner.

  • To determine whether the proposed area of research and creative work have the potential of leading to an original and substantial work of art which explores new aesthetic domains based on the invention of new and advanced technical means.

Phase Two Completion Requirements: 
  •  Six quarters of full-time study must be completed prior to General Exam (Some students may require longer preparation before being approved to take the General Examination).

  • Part-time quarters may be added together to equal full-time 10 credit quarters, but three out of four consecutive quarters must be full-time.

  • None of the credits earned for this requirement may be in DXARTS 800 (Final Doctoral Project) credits.

Phase Three: Final Project

Proposal of Final Project

By the end of the quarter following the General Exam the student must submit a formal proposal for the Final Doctoral Project. The project proposal will state the theoretical and practical problems the student will explore, as well as the research methods and technologies that the student will develop and employ. It will explain how the work will constitute original aesthetic and conceptual explorations, as well as demonstrate the manifestation of innovative approaches to the use and development of technology and/or science in the Arts.

Final Project and Examination

The Final Project will be comprised of a major work of art work representing an advance in the field. Art works must be accompanied by thorough written documentation describing the processes, technologies, techniques, and conceptual frameworks. In all cases, the Final Project must constitute an original contribution to methods, applied techniques and theories of the generative arts.

The Final Examination has two components:

  • Final Project Presentation: 
    • The nature of this presentation will vary widely depending upon the nature of the work. For example the public presentation could be a showing of the work in a gallery or museum setting, a concert or theatrical presentation, a public space setting, or some other non-traditional and experimental venue designed by the candidate. This presentation is the concrete expression of the student's individual research goals, intellectual investigation, technical skill and artistic vision assembled during their tenure as a DXARTS doctoral student. The student must have written approval by the Supervisory Committee that the actual presentation qualifies as the formal Final Project Presentation.
  • Oral Defense of Final Project: 
    • This will be public presentation in the form of an Oral Exam of approximately 1.5 hours during which the candidate will give a professional level presentation about all aspects of the Final Project. The Exam will include questions from the Supervisory Committee and Oral Defense attendees present during the presentation of the Final Project. Successful completion of the Oral Exam results in conferral of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Digital Arts and Experimental Media.

Degree Requirements

  • Complete 60 credits of DXARTS approved courses (not including the DXARTS 800 credits). At least 30 of the credits earned must be at the 500 level. At least 30 must be in graded 400 and 500 level courses.

  • Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in DXARTS courses. At the discretion of the Program Director in consultation with DXARTS faculty students who fall below a 3.0 GPA may be allowed a probationary period during which they must show improvement or be terminated from the program.

  • The student must pass the General Exam. Registration as a graduate student is required during the quarter the exam is taken.

  • The student must complete a Final Project that is a substantial and original contribution in both artistic and technical domains. The student must take at least 27 credits of DXARTS 800 (Final Doctoral Project) over a period of at least three quarters before taking the Final Doctoral Exam.

  • The student must pass the two-part Final Exam. Registration as a doctoral student is required during the quarter the exam is taken.