Normative Time and Candidacy

Normative Time in the Program. This phrase refers to the elapsed time (calculated to the nearest semester) that a student normally needs to complete all requirements for the doctorate, assuming that the student is engaged in full-time study and is making satisfactory progress toward the degree.

  • For Psychology PhD graduate students (excepting those in the Clinical Science area), the normative time between entry into the program and doctoral degree completion is 5 years (10 semesters).
  • For Psychology PhD graduate students in the Clinical Science area, the normative time between entry into the program and doctoral degree completion is 6 years (12 semesters).
  • Graduate Division allows a two year (4 semester) grace period beyond the normative time in program (5 years for Psychology PhD) before a lapse in candidacy will occur. 
  • The Graduate Division controls the normative time policy.  You can read more about Normative Time in the Guide to Graduate Policy. 

Lapsing of Candidacy. Four semesters after the end of Normative Time in Program for the particular program, candidacy ends, or “lapses”. Candidacy End Term can be found in the Degree Progress Section of your Cal Central Dashboard. 

Extension of Candidacy. If candidacy is about to lapse, a student may request an extension. It is the responsibility of each student to consult with her/his dissertation chair or co-chairs and determine if a request for an extension will be supported. If an extension request is warranted, the student will work with the Graduate Student Services Advisor to initiate the appropriate Grad Exception form through CalCentral and attach a letter requesting an extension of candidacy from the Graduate Division.


Reinstatement of Candidacy. Once Normative Time in Candidacy ends, filing of the dissertation will require reinstatement of candidacy. The student must submit a dissertation draft to the dissertation committee in a form complete enough that the committee determines that its approval and submission to the Graduate Division will take place by the next filing date.

Because the Graduate Council has established that the Qualifying Examination and submission of the dissertation are not separate “hurdles”, but together form an integrated educational experience for doctoral candidates, the program must determine that knowledge tested by the Qualifying Examination is still current.

The Graduate Division usually will not accept a Qualifying Examination more than five years old as representing current knowledge unless the student gives other evidence of continuing scholarly activity besides research for the dissertation.

Termination of Candidacy. After two years of lapsed candidacy and no dissertation in sight, candidacy will be terminated. Once terminated, candidacy may be reinstated only through completion of another Qualifying Examination.


Filing Fee Status. Students who are close to completing their dissertations may go on Filing Fee status for their final semester. While on Filing Fee Status, students cannot hold appointments and do not have access to university facilities, services, or funding from lab, department or university sources.  Students are encouraged to discuss this option with their advisors and the Graduate Student Services Advisor.


The Filing Fee Application is in CalCentral > My Dashboard > Student Resources > Special Enrollment Petition