What does the letters ABD stand for as it relates ...

What does the letters ABD stand for as it relates to a degree in higher education?

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It means "

All But Dissertation". It means that a graduate student working toward a doctorate to earn a Master's degree who has fulfilled all requirements for the doctorate except the writing and defense of the dissertation itself, may be awarded a Master of Philosophy degree, beyond the Master of Arts or Master of Science already earned. In other universities, such students used the informal designation of Ph.D. (ABD), for "All But Dissertation," not an actual degree but an informal convention.
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Truthfully they do not really indicate any degree at all. Progress toward completing a doctoral degree is typically divided into four stages. 1. Admission and qualifying exams if any 2. Coursework (not altogether unlike previous course work) 3. Preliminary examination to determine that candidate is ready to embark on independent research and 4 independent  research ...i.e. the dissertation.


If you complete stage 3 of the above, you have done ALL BUT DISSERTATION. Hence the abbreviation A.B.D. It has no official standing anywhere.

Some doctoral programs that decide to let a candidate out after stage 3 may grant a master's degree as a kind of consolation prize. Others do not.


Hence the alternate explanation of the abbreviation:




Much luck to you in your completion of all 4 stages. 

Compare A.B.T., "All But Thesis."

In the context of a doctoral (PhD) candidacy, "ABD" refers to the candidate who has completed all of her/his courses toward a doctoral degree, but is yet to write and committee-defend their dissertation (the BIG paper, opus magnus).  ron

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