by Jonathan Gehrz | December 20, 2010
In April of 2010, the Chronicle Forums polled the academic community on the question, “What does ABD mean to you?” Of the 113 respondents, a healthy consensus (73.5%) indicated a position of “all but dissertation-have to collect all the data, write, and defend thesis.” But what do the terms ABD and Doctoral Candidate mean to you? A question often asked and in these increasingly difficult economic hard times, we are seeing more and more discussion and questions surrounding the use of these terms amongst learners, faculty, and staff. So how should you use such terms? Should you?
From an institutional perspective, it is important to note that Capella discourages the use of such terms and will not recognize or verify such statuses. One needs to be extremely cautious, as the misuse can be easy viewed as a misrepresentation of one’s academic record and further violation of the University’s Code of Conduct policy. (“Learners may not intentionally provide false information or forge, alter, or falsify university documents. Learners may not misrepresent their academic record or status (which includes referring to oneself publicly as a “doctor” prior to the conferral of an earned doctoral degree) Learners may not present the academic work of others as their own…”)
In some cases, you will find individuals schools, programs or specializations take greater care in communicating their expectations as seen by their specialized fields and/or as it relate to matters of etiquette. Given the University’s current position, our advice is to discontinue use of any of the following: Joe Cool, PhD ABD; Joe Cool, PhD(c); Joe Cool, PhD Candidate; Joe Cool, PhD (anticipated or projected conferral 20XX; etc.)
From an external, field position, we acknowledge that some communities, employers, and academic circles depart from the above position. In fact, at the time of this posting, simple Google searches or Monster.com searches demonstrate the frequency in locating position posts that expressly acknowledge “ABD” or “PhD Candidate” as a preferred requirement. We are aware that some learners benefit, professionally or financially, from achieving such a status. In such circumstances, we offer continued diligence and attentiveness as to how you make use of such designations (after all, they are not degrees earned). We recommend you work with your doctoral advisor or an appropriate University official to assist you in determining how to best represent the merit of the works completed, but acknowledge the benefits, rewards and accolades of which we hope and want for all our PhD graduates.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the authentic accomplishments of the ABD or doctoral candidate learner. A sad truth, but not every doctoral learner will finish their dissertation and become a PhD. Yet an equally true fact is these individuals have invested a great deal in their own accomplishments and equally deserve our respect and recognition.