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Doctor of Philosophy

The process of receiving a Doctoral degree in Food and Hospitality System (FHS) from the University of Missouri (MU) can be divided into several distinct steps. This document will serve as a guide through these steps as they are applied by the FHS Program faculty. The student must also conform to any of the requirements and regulations of the MU Office of Graduate Studies and the University of Missouri system. Applications are accepted at any time during the year; however, the following deadlines should be followed:  the fall semester deadline is April 1 of the same year and the spring semester deadline is October 31 of the previous year.

These steps can be divided into four groups:

Initial steps – before arriving on campus

  1. Meeting the minimum academic requirements
  2. Acceptance by an individual faculty member or members willing to serve as the student’s mentor

Steps during provisional acceptance – within the first two semesters of study

  1. Selection of a Doctoral Program Committee
  2. Development of a plan of study
  3. Development and defense of a dissertation research proposal (Qualifying Exam)

Steps as a Ph.D. student

  1. Completion of the plan of study
  2. Completion of a written and oral comprehensive examination

Steps as a Ph.D. candidate – within five years after passing the comprehensive exam

  1. Completion of a research-based project
  2. Preparation of a dissertation
  3. Presentation of a research Exit Seminar
  4. Defense of the dissertation
  5. Submission of at least one manuscript for publication

These steps are explained in the following paragraphs.

1. Minimum Academic Requirements

A prospective Ph.D. student must complete an approved course of study with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a four-point scale or its equivalent. This generally includes a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and a Master of Science (M.S.) degree program from an accredited university or equivalent experience. In rare instances, an exceptional student will be allowed to study for the Ph.D. without first completing an M.S. degree.

In addition, prospective students must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) within five years prior to applying to the Ph.D. program. The FHS Faculty prefers prospective Ph.D. students to have received at least a score of 1,000 on the combined score of the verbal and quantitative sections, with neither section being below 400, and a minimum of 3.5 on the analytical writing section on the GRE. A new scoring system became effective Fall 2011. The minimum scores are:  a verbal score of 146 or higher and a quantitative score of 140 or higher with the total of the two not being below 294. The minimum of 3.5 on the analytical writing section did not change.

Students who did not attend high school (or equivalent) where English was the language of instruction will be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum TOEFL score required for acceptance into the FHS Ph.D. program is 550 for the standard version of the exam, 213 for the computerized version, 80 for the Internet version and 5.5 for the IELTS version. The TOEFL may be waived for students with a B.S. or M.S. degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction. Contact the FHS Program for additional information.

Under unusual circumstances, students with less than the minimum requirements may be accepted on probation without financial assistance at the discretion of an individual faculty member in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Students accepted under these conditions will receive a letter informing them of the terms of their probationary status. 

2. Acceptance

Students should assemble the appropriate documents to show that they have met the Minimum Academic Requirements described above. Students need to apply online at: Admissions

Once the required materials (i.e., official transcripts, TOEFL score, GRE score, etc.) are assembled, all students should send them to:

Graduate Admissions
University of Missouri
210 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211-1300

Application fees for domestic students are $55 and $75 for international students.

Upon receipt of the documents, the application materials will be examined by the Graduate Admissions committee. Each application will be circulated to the FHS Program Faculty. Faculty members will decide if they are willing to serve as a mentor for the student. Students will be informed as to their provisional acceptance to the program usually within two months after receiving a complete application packet. Please note that provisional acceptance will only be given to students with an identified faculty mentor. Faculty members sponsoring prospective Ph.D. students must be members of the Doctoral Faculty at MU, or identify another faculty member on the Doctoral Faculty to serve as co-chair on the student’s Doctoral Program Committee.

Beside the Minimum Academic Requirements to the Office of Graduate Studies, students must submit an application form, up-to-date resume, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation to:

Director of Graduate Studies
FHS Graduate Program
256 William C. Stringer Wing
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211-5160.

Please note that acceptance does not imply that the student will receive financial assistance.
If financial assistance is provided, the acceptance letter will include that information.

Establishment of Proficiency

All International Ph.D. students are expected to be able to effectively communicate in English and are required to take the SPEAK Exam. See more information at: International Teaching Assistantship Program Assessment

While a basic goal of the Ph.D. program is to provide students with highly specialized skills in hospitality management, the faculty believes that it is important for Ph.D. students to understand the breadth of the discipline as well. Ph.D. students in conjunction with the major advisor and Doctoral committee will identify suitable courses to be included in the Program of Study as outlined below.

A.  Required courses (up to 20 credits):

  • Advanced Research Methods FS 9402 (2-3 cr.)
  • Seminar FS 9087 (4 cr.)(2 cr. from Master’s seminar in FS or 1 cr. from Master’s seminar in other MU departments or U.S. universities can be transferred)
  • Statistics (6-9 cr.) – 7000 level or higher
  • Ethics (1-2 cr.)  – choose one from below:
    • Plant Sci. 8010 - 01  Professionalism and Ethics, 2 cr.
    • Vet Pathobiol. 8641 - 01   Introduction to Research Ethics, 1 cr.
    • Med. Pharm & Phys. 8415 - 01   Ethics Education by Engagement, Enactment & Empowerment, 2 cr.
    • Biol. Sci. 8060/Biochem 8060 - 01   Ethical Conduct of Research, 1 cr.
    • Psych 8910 Ethical and Professional Issues in Psychology, 1 cr.
  • Career Development - choose one from below:
    • Grant Writing, Ag Ed 8530
    • Preparing Future Faculty I, Grad. 9010 (every fall), 1 cr. AND Preparing Future Faculty II, Grad. 9020 (every spring), 1 cr.
    • College Teaching, Ag Ed 8350 (3 cr.)
  • Hotel Finance Management, HSP_MGMT 7353 (3 cr.)
  • Destination Marketing, HSP_MGMT 7320 (3 cr.)
  • Sales & Marketing HSP_MGMT 7273 (3 cr.)
  • Human Resource Management, HSP_MGMT 7253 (3 cr.
  • International Hotel Management, HSP_MGMT 7343 (3 cr.)

B.   Elective courses (flexible, 7000 level)

  • Advanced Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Financial Management
  • Marketing
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Research Methodology
  • Statistics
  • Sport Venue Management
  • Tourism Management
  • Food and Beverage Management

C. Research, FS 9090– min 6 cr., max 28 cr. maximum(must be from MU, not transferred in)

D. 8000 level courses

  • Minimum 15 cr. (including Advanced Research Methods but excluding Seminar, Research, Problems, Independent Studies)
  • Must include a minimum of two courses within the Program in addition to Advanced Research Methods.  In certain cases, courses outside the Program may be accepted if well justified.  Suggested courses are:
    • Advanced Food Technology, FS 9470 (3 cr.)
    • Research Methods in Social Science, Ag. Ed 8510 (3 cr.)
    • Strategic Human Resource Management, FS 8253 (3 cr.)
    • Advanced Marketing, FS 8273 (3 cr.)
    • Agriculture Mechanization Systems, ASM 8340 (3 cr.)
    • Leadership Theory and Education, Ag Ed 8250 (3 cr.)
    • Distance Learning, Ag Ed 8360 (3 cr.)

3. Selection of a Doctoral Program Committee

Students, in consultation with their primary faculty mentor, need to select faculty members to serve in their Doctoral Program Committee within the first two semesters of starting their Ph.D. Program.

An acceptable Doctoral Program Committee must include at least four graduate faculty members. Of these members there must be:

  • At least three graduate faculty members from the FHS Program, one of whom must be a Doctoral faculty member and is the major advisor.
  • At least one graduate faculty member from MU, but outside of the FHS Program.

Other members of the Doctoral Program Committee may be selected from outside of MU with special permission of the Graduate Dean. These members are usually individuals with specialized expertise critical to the success of the student’s research program. The chair of the committee will be the student’s principal faculty mentor (major advisor).

The members of the Doctoral Program Committee, led by the major advisor will actively participate in the education of the student. This committee is responsible for:

  • Evaluating, reviewing and approving the student’s dissertation research proposal (Qualifying Exam)
  • Developing the plan of study
  • Participating in the annual review (see step 9 – Reasonable Rate of Progress)
  • Conducting the comprehensive examination
  • Guiding the student’s research activities
  • Overseeing the writing and defense of the dissertation
  • Maintaining high standards of scholarship and ethical behavior
  • Administering correction and disciplinary actions when necessary

By the end of the second semester of the Ph.D. Program, the student should submit a completed “Qualifying Examination Results and Doctoral Committee Approval” form (form D-1), available at: Office of Graduate Studies forms and downloads to the Graduate Coordinator. The Coordinator will submit the completed form to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean.

4. Development of the Plan of Study

The Doctoral Program Committee and the student will prepare a plan of study. This generally should be done within the first twelve months after entering the program. The sooner the plan of study is prepared, the easier it is to complete in a reasonable length of time. The plan of study includes a list of the formal courses, readings, problems, research hours and seminars that the students will use to fulfill the requirements for the doctoral degree.

MU requires a minimum of 72 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree for the Ph.D. If approved by the student’s Doctoral Program Committee, this may include 30 hours from the M.S. degree or graduate credit earned at MU or another institution. A minimum of fifteen hours (exclusive of research, problems or independent study courses) must be at the 8000) (graduate) level. In addition, there will be a minimum of four hours of Seminar (FS 9087) and at least six hours of Research (FS 9090) (may not exceed 28 hours of the total 72 hours required in the Ph.D. Program of Study). Other courses should be chosen to strengthen the student’s ability to do research in their specific area.

Once the Plan of Study has been developed, the student should submit the “Plan of Study for the Doctoral Degree” form (D-2), available at: Office of Graduate Studies forms and downloads to the Graduate Coordinator. The Coordinator will submit the completed form to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean.

5. Preparation and Defense of a Research Proposal (Qualifying Exam)

Each student will prepare a research proposal following a standard format similar to those required by the USDA, NIH, or NSF. The subject of the proposal will be determined in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and the Doctoral Program Committee.

The student will submit a copy of the proposal to each member of the Doctoral Program Committee at least one week prior to the Proposal Defense date. If the proposal is unacceptable to the committee, the student will be informed of the deficiencies within two weeks after defending the proposal to the Doctoral Program Committee. The proposal will be revised and resubmitted until the Doctoral Program Committee is satisfied. Failure to successfully complete a research proposal will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

The research proposal must be presented to, defended to, and accepted by the Doctoral Program Committee within the first two semesters after starting the doctoral program.

6. Completion of the Plan of Study

A student must substantially complete the course work outlined in the plan of study prepared in step 6 (exclusive of research, problems or readings courses) to the satisfaction of the Doctoral Program Committee and the Office of Graduate Studies before being declared ready to take the comprehensive examination.

In some unusual circumstances, it may become necessary to change a Plan of Study after it has been developed by the student and the Doctoral Program Committee. Any substitutions, deletions or modifications of a student’s Plan of Study must be approved by the Doctoral Program Committee. The student’s academic advisor should inform the Graduate Program Coordinator, in writing, of any necessary changes as soon as possible to assure that the proper paperwork is filed with the Graduate Dean.

Successful academic progress on the plan of study includes an acceptable Grade Point Average (GPA). A student must achieve an acceptable passing grade of “B” in all FHS courses and all courses listed on the student’s program of study. For graduate work, the FHS Program faculty and the MU Office of Graduate Studies require all students to maintain at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a 4 point scale). A student receiving a cumulative or semester GPA of less than 2.0 is subject to immediate dismissal from the FHS Program and MU.

Students falling below a 3.0 cumulative GPA in any semester will be put on academic probation for the following semester. If at the end of the first probationary semester the student’s cumulative GPA is greater than or equal to 3.0, the probationary status is removed. If the cumulative GPA has not reached 3.0, the student is allowed one more probationary semester. Failure to achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA in two successive probationary semesters will result in the immediate dismissal of the student from the FHS Ph.D. Program. Unsatisfactory academic performance may also result in a student being dismissed from the University.

The Office of Graduate Studies has a comprehensive policy covering the requirements and procedures to be followed when it becomes necessary to dismiss a student. They also have developed procedures for appeal of any decision by the FHS Program. Students should consult the “University of Missouri – Graduate Catalog” for further details. A detailed procedure is available at: Satisfactory progress

7. Completion of a Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination will be conducted by the Doctoral Program Committee as specified by the Office of Graduate Studies. The student does not take this exam until all course work listed on the approved Program of Study has been taken. This examination is designed to measure the student’s knowledge of food science, hospitality management, or agriculture systems management and related areas. In addition, students are expected to show the ability to think clearly and critically and to express themselves adequately in both written and spoken English.

Students must be enrolled in MU at the time of the comprehensive exam. In addition, MU must officially be in session (fall, winter or summer semesters) when the comprehensive exam is administered. The entire exam, both written and oral sections, must be completed within 30 days. The comprehensive exam must be completed at least seven months before the final defense of the dissertation (step 13).


Expect the comprehensive exam to be the most difficult exam you will ever take. The exam will consist of a written and an oral section. Your major advisor will be responsible for organizing the written section of the exam. Each of your committee members will be allowed to ask questions in their area of expertise or any area in food science, hospitality management, or agriculture systems management of their choice. You should expect to take from six to 168 hours to complete each individual exam section. Generally, you should expect to complete the entire written exam within fourteen days.


After completing the written section of this exam, it is the student's responsibility to make an appointment with each committee member to go over the results of the written exam. Frequently, the written exam will serve as the basis for the oral exam.

After completion of the written exam, the student, in consultation with their major advisor and Doctoral Program Committee should schedule the oral exam. The oral exam is designed to determine whether the student can think quickly and clearly and express themselves in English. The oral exam generally takes two to three hours. The student will be expected to defend their answers on the written portion of the comprehensive exam as well as any other areas the committee wishes to explore.

At the end of the oral examination, the Doctoral Program Committee will determine if the student has performed adequately to become a Ph.D. candidate in the FHS program. For the comprehensive examination to be successfully completed, the Doctoral Program Committee must vote to pass the student on the entire examination, both written and oral sections, with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote. Two or more dissenting or abstaining votes will result in a determination that the student has failed the comprehensive examination. A report of this decision must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies and the student no later than two weeks after the comprehensive exam is completed.

Failure on either the written or oral section of the exam constitutes failure of the entire comprehensive exam. If a failure is reported, the committee must also include in the report an outline of the general weaknesses or deficiencies observed in the student’s work. The student and committee members are encouraged to work together to identify steps the student might take to become fully prepared for the next examination. If, at any time, the student believes that the advice given by the committee is inadequate, the student may send a written request for clarification to the committee. A copy of this request should be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies as well. The committee must respond to this request in writing within two weeks and have a copy of the response filed with the Office of Graduate Studies.

A student who fails the comprehensive exam may take a second exam, no sooner than twelve weeks after the first oral exam. Failure to pass the second comprehensive examination will automatically prevent a student from becoming a Ph.D. candidate. This usually results in dismissal from the FHS Ph.D. program.

Once the Comprehensive Examination process is completed, the student or the major advisor should prepare the form D-3, “Doctoral Comprehensive Examination Results.” This form is available at: Office of Graduate Studies forms and downloads.

The D-3 form should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator, even if the student fails the comprehensive exam. The Coordinator will submit the completed form to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean.

8. Completion of a Research-Based Project

Students are expected to begin their research project shortly after beginning their Program of Study. The research project is a collaborative effort between the student, the major advisor and the Doctoral Program Committee. A successful project will involve original research and scholarship that will significantly contribute to an increased understanding of food science, hospitality management, or agriculture systems management. The project must be original, a reflection of the student’s own work and must demonstrate a capacity for research and independent thought.

It is expected that students will maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior while engaged in research at MU. Plagiarism or falsification of data will result in a student being immediately dismissed from the program and MU.

Reasonable Rate of Progress

Every Ph.D. student will be evaluated annually for satisfactory progress by their major advisor as required by the Office of Graduate Studies (see Office of Graduate Studies Catalog, Dismissal Policy and Appeals Process for Graduate Students.) Satisfactory progress includes adherence to a suitable timeline for completing the Ph.D. as described in this document, and adequate academic performance as described in Step 7: Completing the Plan of Study (above).  Students are required to fill out the annual progress reports available at: http://gradstudies.missouri.edu/academics/progress/graduate-student-progress-system.php by June 1 of each year.  The major professor will inform the Director of Graduate Studies as to the outcome of the evaluation on or before July 1 of each year.

It is important that a reasonable rate of progress towards the Ph.D. degree is required. The doctoral degree must be completed within five years after passing the comprehensive exam. In unusual circumstances, it may be necessary to extend the time required to finish the degree. In these cases, the candidate requiring additional time must submit a request for extension prior to the expiration of the applicable period. Upon petition of the candidate and the Doctoral Program Committee, the Director of Graduate Studies in the FHS Program may endorse an extension of time. A request for an extension of time must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Students who take more than five years to complete the Ph.D. after passing the comprehensive exam may be required by the FHS faculty and/or the Office of Graduate Studies to retake some or all of their course work.

Ph.D. candidates needing additional time to complete their research and dissertation must enroll in at least 2 hours of Research (FS 9090) in the fall and winter semesters, and at least 1 hour of Research (FS 9090) each summer session up to and including the semester in which they will defend the dissertation (step 13).

9. Preparation of a Dissertation

A dissertation based on original research must be reviewed by the student’s Doctoral Program Committee. The dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense (steps 11 and 12). Specific regulations regarding completing and filing the dissertation are outlined in “Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations.” Every candidate should obtain this document, which is available at: Thesis and Dissertation Process.

The style of the dissertation is left up to the discretion of the major advisor and the student, as long as the minimum requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies are met.

10. Research Exit Seminar

Shortly before the defense of the dissertation, the student has to prepare a seminar on his/her research. The seminar must take place when MU is officially in session and has to be announced at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date.  This seminar is open to the general university audience. The members of the Doctoral Committee must attend. The seminar may be scheduled immediately prior to the dissertation defense for convenience.

11. Defense of the Dissertation

After the dissertation has been presented, a final examination will be conducted by the Doctoral Program Committee. The candidate should be prepared to defend the dissertation and discuss any related areas.

A report of the examination, carrying the signatures of all members of the committee, must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies before the deadline preceding the anticipated date of graduation. For the dissertation to be considered successfully defended, the student’s Doctoral Program Committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.

All dissertation defense seminars are open to the general faculty. The FHS Program will announce dissertation defense dates to appropriate colleagues within and outside the Program.

The dissertation defense must take place when MU is officially in session and the candidate must be enrolled at MU.

A final copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies electronically. Specific instructions are provided in the “Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations” which is available at: Thesis and Dissertation Process.

Finally, the student should assure that the form D-4, “Report of the Dissertation Defense” is submitted to the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible. The Coordinator will submit the completed form to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Dean. The form is available at: Office of Graduate Studies forms and downloads.

12. Submission of Manuscript for Publication

All Ph.D. candidates are required to prepare at least one manuscript, judged acceptable by the Major Advisor and at least one additional member of the student’s Doctoral Program Committee, for submission to a refereed journal, prior to submitting “The Report of the Dissertation Defense” form (Form D-4) to the Graduate Coordinator. See Office of Graduate Studies forms and downloads.

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