All But Dissertation-The HUB - Carnegie Mellon University

All But Dissertation (ABD) Declaration & Processing


Once doctoral students have completed all requirements except their dissertation, they MUST declare themselves "All But Dissertation." To do that, the student and department MUST complete an ABD Status Agreement (.pdf) form and declare their intent to complete their dissertation either In Residence (on campus) or In Absentia (off campus). The student makes their choice and then signs and dates the form.

Changing Status

If the student wishes to change their status (from either In Residence to In Absentia, or vice versa), the department must submit an ABD Status Change (.pdf) form for each change. Students who change to In Absentia during the semster may have their tuition adjusted according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule. The student will be resposible for all fees.

Students who are In Absentia must complete this change form in the semester they are to defend and be changed to In Residence. ABD students generally have 10 years to complete their dissertation (their department or college policy may require a shorter period). The time limit applies to all students and begins the semester ABD is declared.

Enrollment - In Residence (On Campus)

In Residence students enroll like all other students - they must meet all registration and payment deadlines (as listed on the Academic Calendar). In Residence students are verified as full-time students, provided they are registered and enrolled for loan deferments (and other third-party verifications).

In Residence students may cross-register for courses through the Cross-Registration (PCHE) program. Those who wish to cross-register must make sure that their total units are 36 or greater (not including the number of units for the cross-registered course) in order not to be assessed an additional tuition charge. Those students who are only registered for 5 units are not eligible to cross-register.

Final Semester - In Residence

In Residence students remain on campus to finish their dissertation. They must register and pay for a minimum of 5 units each semester. The student's department determines the number of units actually taken (5 if non-support, or 36 if supported), following college and university policies. The student's department is also responsible for ensuring that In Residence students are registered for the appropriate number of units each semester.

Enrollment - In Absentia (Off Campus)

ABD students In Absentia finish their dissertations off campus. They do not register and are not charged tuition (except for their final semester). Students In Absentia will be assessed the technology fee each semester they are In Absentia.

Students In Absentia are not verified as students (either full-time or part-time) to loan agencies or outside organizations, and may not cross-register for courses. Because they are not in student status, some international students cannot become In Absentia. Please contact the Office of International Education for more information.

In Absentia students have only limited access to university facilities, such as libraries and computer clusters. Since students In Absentia are not registered for courses and are not charged tuition and relevant ID Card-related fees (i.e., transportation, activity), their Carnegie Mellon ID Card access privileges are deactivated. ID Cards for In Absentia students are not renewable unless a student's status changes to In Residence

Final Semester - In Absentia

In Absentia students must register and pay for a minimum of 5 units during their final semester of degree completion. There will be no adjustment to tuition regardless of certification date when registered for 5 units. Once the student is certified, in order to have tuition assessed, the department must submit the ABD Status Change (.pdf) form and the Doctoral Student Tuition Adjustment form which includes the following information:

  • Student name and Andrew ID
  • Date that the student was certified by the department (this is date is the basis for tuition adjustment)
  • Date when the thesis is signed by the department head (this is the certification date)
  • Course number (for 5 units) that the student should receive for their final semester
  • Dean's date of authorization

The student's enrollment status will then be changed from In Absensia to Conditionally Enrolled, their program code will be changed from In Absentia to In Residence, the course will be added to their academic record, and tuition will be assessed for 5 units. The student is responsible for paying tuition per the student financial obligations. When the student account is paid in full, the student's enrollment status will then be changed from Conditionally Enrolled to Enrolled.