Carnegie Mellon University

Doctoral Students

All But Dissertation (ABD) Declaration

Once doctoral students have completed all requirements and have only the dissertation, including proposal, to complete,  they must declare themselves "All But Dissertation." To do that, the student and department should complete an All But Dissertation Status Agreement (pdf) form to declare their intent to complete their dissertation either In Residence (on campus) or In Absentia (off campus).  All But Dissertation 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 on the date a student matriculates in the doctoral program.

Changing Status

If the student wishes to change their status (from either In Residence to In Absentia, or vice versa), the student and department must complete and submit an All But Dissertation Status Change (pdf) form, preferably before the semester add deadline for each change. 


All But Dissertation Status

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 to not be assessed an additional tuition charge. 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. 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. Once the student has completed all thesis/degree requirements and is certified for their degree, the department must submit a Doctoral Student Final Semester (pdf) form.

Enrollment - In Absentia (Off Campus)

In Absentia students 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 an enrolled 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 labs. 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 submit an All But Dissertation Status Change (pdf) form by the semester add deadline 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, the department must submit a Doctoral Student Final Semester (pdf) form.