All but dissertation

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"All but dissertation" (ABD) is a mostly unofficial term identifying a stage in the process of obtaining a research doctorate in the United States and Canada. At this stage, the student has completed the preparatory coursework, any required language examinations, qualifying examinations, comprehensive examinations, and may have defended his or her dissertation proposal.[1] To complete the degree, the student must carry out the proposed research and write the dissertation that defines a PhD or equivalent (ScD) research doctorate. "All but dissertation" attrition ranges from 43% to 51% depending on the field.[2]

It is common for a student at this stage to refer to themselves as a "candidate", or "doctoral candidate", as technically the term "student" is for all purposes inaccurate based upon their academic completion.


  1. ^ Schuman, Rebecca (1 August 2014). "ABD Company - What’s worse than getting a Ph.D. in today’s job market? Not finishing one.". Slate. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Sowell, Robert (31 March 2008). "Ph. D. Completion and Attrition: Analysis of Baseline Data" (PDF). Council of Graduate Schools. Retrieved 17 October 2014.