Research Competency Requirement

Because the PhD is a research degree, all students are expected to present evidence of mastery of a basic research competency over and above the usual course work. Evidence of completion of the research competency requirement should be presented to the GPD as soon as possible in the student’s doctoral career; they are required to do so before enrolling in the Dissertation Seminar. Students select one of the following three options to meet this requirement:

Foreign Language

To enter candidacy for the doctoral degree, students may present evidence of mastery of a foreign language equivalent to second-year undergraduate facility. This can be done by transcript, by demonstration of native language proficiency (for those who speak English as a second language), by taking coursework at Old Dominion or elsewhere equivalent to second-year language facility (at Old Dominion University, through language courses numbered 202), by passing a standardized test at the appropriate level, or by passing an examination administered by the Department of Foreign Languages geared to second-year language mastery. A grade of B or above in both semesters of second-year instruction will demonstrate competency in that language.

New Media Application

Students may choose the option of presenting evidence of mastery of computer and new media applications beyond the usual knowledge of word processing, spread sheets, projection applications (e.g., PowerPoint), portable document format (pdf), and similar, common applications and software. This would include programming languages such as

  • InterDev
  • PERL
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Ruby

In lieu of standardized examinations to test such knowledge, students choosing this option must submit a multimodal, new-media project in which demonstration of one of the allowed programming languages is paramount. This multimodal and interactive project should include:

  • a project proposal for approval,
  • a project log,
  • three versions (revisions) of a portfolio of self-produced material,
  • a statement of which applications or programs one is presenting and level of expertise,
  • and, if needed, a demonstration of facility before members of the PhDAdvisory Council, which shall have final say on whether the option has been satisfied.


Students whose research requires advanced knowledge of quantitative research design and statistics may show mastery of statistical methods through the following:

Successful completion of one graduate-level course in statistics with a grade of B or higher (courses completed as part of the student’s master’s degree may count for this requirement). At ODU, graduate statistic courses such as FOUN 722 – Applied Statistical Methods and Data Analysis fulfills this requirement. Please consult the GPD about other courses that may qualify with an explanation for how the course supports your plan of study.


Successful completion of two undergraduate-level courses in quantitative research design and statistics with a grade of B or higher in both courses. Also, students must provide evidence to the GPD that they designed and completed a project using statistical methods (e.g., a course project, conference paper, or journal article).