FinishLine | Costs after your coursework for PhD or Masters

June, 2006Volume 2, Issue 6

In This Issue:

Preparing for Cost They Don't Tell You About...

A critical aspect of completing your dissertation is accurately planning your finances.  Even if you are being advanced to candidacy — for example, “ABD” (All done But Dissertation) — be aware that there are still financial aspects to consider.  Hitting this stage is a significant milestone that signals the end of coursework in the PhD process and — typically — a significant reduction in tuition fees. The submission of a thesis or dissertation is the final step in a program leading to the award of a graduate degree. Once the document is filed, it is final and cannot be changed. However, as you reach this endpoint of writing your thesis or dissertation, understand that you will still be required to pay a number of fees associated with the submission process.

The following are a few of the fees you will need to explore.

Application for the Degree:
An "Application for Degree (Diploma)" must be filed for the semester you wish to graduate. The application fee must be paid by the published deadline for that semester (which you can usually find on your university’s website or in your Schedule of Classes). This form triggers a series of processes (ordering your diploma, possible commencement participation, and posting of your degree on transcripts) that lead to the awarding of your degree.  Sometimes, if you file for a particular semester, and later determine that you will be unable to complete all of your work by that time, you must file another Application … and pay the fee again.  If you miss the filing deadline, you may also be assessed a late fee.  It pays to stay on top of these deadlines!

Continuous Registration:
Many schools have a continuous registration requirement; find out if your school does and, if so, how much the registration fee will be.  Typically, this requirement is meant to ensure that, in addition to course work, those who earn graduate degrees have spent sufficient time in residence within their disciplines learning “how to become a professor.”  This requires not merely taking classes, but also meeting with professors and peers; participating in research projects and colloquia; using laboratories and libraries; and becoming an active and acknowledged contributor to a research discipline.

The Filing Fee:
Even if you are not required to maintain continuous registration, some universities require that you be registered and enrolled and/or pay a Filing Fee during the quarter/semester that your dissertation is actually submitted.

The Filing Fee was established expressly to assist those students who have been advanced to candidacy and have completed all requirements for a degree — including research —  except the actual filing of a thesis or dissertation and/or completion of final exams (master’s comprehensive or doctoral final examination).  A Filing Fee is a reduced fee paid in lieu of registration fees; some can be as little as $120 or as much as $500, depending upon the university.  Be aware that these fees are subject to change without prior notification.

Please note that the completion of all formal coursework or residence requirements does not automatically entitle you to apply for Filing Fee Status.  It’s important to be cognizant of all the rules and regulations associated with filing your dissertation so that you can plan accordingly.
It’s also important to note that you are responsible for observing the proper filing dates and for preparing your thesis in the proper format to meet filing requirements.  The final copy of your thesis or dissertation, which is ultimately deposited and archived in your university’s library, becomes a permanent and official record.  As such, you must follow your university’s strict guidelines about where it will be bound and stored.  For information and assistance in the preparation of your thesis or dissertation, be sure to contact the responsible party for your program.  Be aware of important dates, deadlines, and timelines; filing your thesis or dissertation cannot be done on the spur of the moment.  Often, you must even make an appointment in order to file your thesis or dissertation.

While a Filing Fee is typically much less expensive than re-enrolling, it’s important to understand that if you will need access to the library, computers or other university facilities, you will not  be able to do so with only Filing Fee Status.  Rather, you will need to re-enroll and pay tuition or the enrollment fee to gain access to these university “benefits.”  Filing Fee status also does not qualify you for deferral of student loans.  As such, it is very important to be sure that your Filing Fee is approved for the semester in which you intend to submit your dissertation.

Copyright, Microfilming and Publication:
The copyright laws of the United States are quite complex.  As such, the information contained in this section should only be considered as a very general guide — more detailed information must be obtained from other sources.

At some universities registering copyright and microfilming your thesis/dissertation might be optional. Keep in mind that whether or not you copyright your thesis or dissertation, you retain the right to publish all or any part of it by any means at any time, unless you signed an agreement to the contrary.

If you do decide to copyright your thesis or dissertation, you must include a separate copyright page after the title page (do not use a page number on the copyright page).  By simply adding this copyright notice, which should be included in all copies you distribute, you have copyrighted your thesis or dissertation.  At this point, you have several additional options that may or may not be required by your university:
  • As a doctoral candidate, you can authorize ProQuest (formerly known as University Microfilms International Dissertation Publishing) to act as your agent with the Library of Congress Copyright Office to reproduce and distribute the dissertation using digital, paper, microfilm and microfiche formats.  ProQuest (UMI) will prepare an application in your name, submit your application fee, and deposit the required copy or copies of the manuscript for a small fee (approximately $45).
  • You may register the copyright yourself at; the fee in 2006 is $30.00.  In order to have full protection against infringement, this should be done as soon as possible after the completion of your document.  Consult the Library of Congress website for further information and forms can be obtained from the Registrar of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 20559.
  • You may choose to copyright your thesis or dissertation by adding the copyright notice to your document and submitting a copy to the Registrar of Copyrights, but not officially registering it.  (Federal copyright law requires that copies of all works published with notices of copyright be deposited with the Library of Congress, even if the copyright is not registered). However, to protect your rights in a copyright dispute and to be compensated for damages caused by infringement, your copyright must be registered.

Electronic Submission Fee:
Electronic submission of your thesis/dissertation requires a mandatory cataloging fee.  The cataloging fee for doctoral dissertations may differ from the fee for a Master's thesis, and the optional copyright filing fee is an additional charge.  To make an informed decision about whether or not to copyright your work, consult with your academic advisor.

Don’t Forget Those Basic Costs!
When planning your dissertation, don’t forget to include the most basic costs of completing your document.  For example, be sure to include the cost of all the paper you will require!  Writing a thesis or dissertation requires many drafts before the final document is ready for submission.  Depending on where you complete most of the research and writing, you will most likely need reams and reams of paper to get through this arduous writing process.  For many drafts, you can consider using recycled paper, and also using both sides of the paper.  However, you are better off using different colored paper to keep track of different versions of your drafts.  If you are not required to electronically submit your final draft, be aware that it must be submitted on more expensive paper, such as “acid free” paper. 

In addition to the cost of paper, you will also need funding for extensive photo-copying, printing (toner cartridges), binding fees, editing, microfilming fees, conference fees, journal submission fees, and money for items such as the personal rewards you gift yourself when crucial tasks are completed.

To Be Finally Finished:
You might have filed your thesis or dissertation but to get your diploma, be aware that your student accounts must be paid in full at the time of program completion. Any outstanding balance will prevent the release of diploma(s), transcripts, letters of completion, etc.

Email Question of the Month:


Last month your article mentioned getting a “Certificate of Completion.”  What is a Certificate of Completion?


It is unlikely that you will receive your actual “official” diploma on the day of your graduation ceremony.  Consequently, most universities provide a “certificate of completion” to any graduate student who requests one. In general, a student may request, in person or in writing, certification of the expected degree.
When you file your thesis or dissertation, you will receive a temporary certificate that states you have completed all requirements for your program and the official conferral date of your degree. This certificate may be given to your employer for proof of degree until the Registrar's Office issues an official transcript or diploma.

You must complete a form to request your transcript or diploma.  Official transcripts are normally available two months after the official degree conferral date; diplomas are typically available four months after this date.  These timelines vary depending on your university.  Find out if your university provides such a temporary certificate until your official documents arrive in the mail.  And as part of your application for your diploma, be sure to confirm with your university how you would like your name to appear on your diploma.  For example, do you want to use your married name or maiden name?  Be aware that any outstanding balance on your student account including library fines or books will prevent the release of diploma(s), transcripts, letters of completion, etc


What TA-DA!™ Users Have to Say...

If you're still wondering whether or not TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished™ can help you — don’t take our word for it. Take a few moments to read what some of our customers have told us.
See how TA-DA!™ helped them...

Ph.D. Doctoral Students

  •   TA-DA gave me the incentive to "get the lead out" and finish. The 12 minutes a day has lead to approximately two to three hours. I have really got a lot done, just knowing that the twelve minutes does wonders for the psyche.
Maryjane, Fayetteville, NC

  •   The commitment to a deadline and to working 12 minutes a day actually reduces stress. I can always do 12 minutes--even if I'm tired, sick, uninspired or grumpy. Facing a deadline makes it feel like I will actually get done! "I have to do my 12 minutes" we say in our house these days. I've been progressing steadily on my dissertation by committing to 12 minutes, and my husband has covered huge amounts of material for an upcoming professional exam. My friend has committed to completing the annulment papers she has procrastinated on for 10 years, and my father-in-law has started studying Spanish 12 minutes a day. Thanks!
Christine, Seattle, WA

  •   It helped me to set goals for my chapters and give me some practical strategies for finishing. Also I believe it's good to list your finish date. It gives you something to strive for rather than letting the thesis become nebulous.
Martha; Albany, CA

  •   TA-DA explains the dissertation process and lifts the curtain to a process that seems impossible to accomplish. It provides strategy for selecting the committee and provides timelines that enable accomplishment of the dissertation within a specific time frame.
Randall; USMC Jacksonville, NC

  •   The program helped me to understand the dissertation concept much better. I am a visual individual; the tutorial was a great help.
Deborah; U.S. Army

  •   Provides helpful suggestions for how to proceed as well as suggesting disciplined and reasonable timelines for completion.
Lawrence; Philadelphia, PA

Master’s Thesis Students…

  •   It has helped with the fact that my graduate school does not have a formal format for the proposal. The Journal has helped a lot.
Talia; Naranjito, Puerto Rico

  •   This is a great tool for those who will be starting either their Master's Degree or Dissertation. I highly recommend it.
Teresa; Naguabo, Puerto Rico

  •   Requesting that I set a goal date for finishing, kept me focused and it was the first step in accomplishing the task. Also, I kept remembering the words; a good thesis is a done thesis.
Gladys; NY, NY

  •   It guided me to a fair start. Gracias!
Jess; San Francisco, CA



Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D.

About the Author: As a single mother, professor Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters' degrees and a PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation. She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool on CD—TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. To learn more and sign up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at Privacy is our policy. TADA™ Finishline does not give out or sell our subscribers' names or e-mail addresses.

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Inside This Issue:

Preparing for Cost They Don't Tell You About...

Email Q & A of the Month

What TA-DA!™
Users Say

Next FinishLine Features:

Sink or Swim: choosing a lab or research advisor...


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