This means that you have finished everything in a PhD program except for the dissertation. Someone who is ABD has successfully completed all of the required classwork and any required comprehensive exams. The term itself has no academic standing but is used to tell others where you are in your program. Having completed in the neighborhood of two years of classwork, it is nice to have something to acknowledge this accomplishment. However, this should not be a destination. ABD should just be a way to tell people where you are on your journey, similar to telling someone that you just passed the hardware store on your way home.
The Role of the Dissertation Committee
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At the graduate level, Mason offers certificate programs of study and master's and doctoral degree programs. There are also a number of combined bachelor's and accelerated master's degree programs for academically-strong undergraduates with a commitment to learning advanced skills in a specialized field of study. Students may access graduate classes and programs according to their status as non-degree or enrolled degree students.
This handout will not only answer this question, but also give you good, practical advice on starting, drafting, and completing your dissertation. Partly because the dissertation is a completely new experience that is much larger and more independent than your previous academic work. To this point, being a graduate student has been, more or less, an extension of your earlier life as a student. The reading assignments, labs, papers, and tests you have been assigned as a graduate student may not have been so different from your undergraduate course work.