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.


In typical usage of the term, the ABD student has completed only the required preparatory coursework, and passed any required preliminary and comprehensive examinations, but has not completed the research requirements, typically including the writing and defense of a dissertation.[1] A student attaining this level may be granted a Candidate of Philosophy degree at some institutions.

It has been described as a "state of permanent, epic procrastination, often lasting years", and the "uncompleted dissertation hangs over the candidate like a black cloud".[2]

A synonymous term is doctoral candidate,[3] abbreviated PhD(c), PhD-c or PhDc in English speaking countries[3] and Dr. Cand. in German-speaking countries.[4]


  1. ^ Schuman, Rebecca (1 August 2014). "ABD Company". Slate. 
  2. ^ Peters, Robert L. (1997). Getting what you came for. Farrar Straus Giroux.  p. 219
  3. ^ a b Amy Novotney, "The misuse of PhD(c): Why a designation used by some students is seen as unethical", Monitor on Psychology, September 2016, Vol. 47, No. 8, p. 36.
  4. ^ Thomas Söbbing, Warum scheitern Vertragsverhandlungen?, disserta Verlag, 2010, p. 1.