Doctoral students will be required to complete a master’s thesis, preliminary examination and doctoral dissertation (in that order). The dissertation is a research project carried out by the student under the guidance of a major professor and committee. A dissertation should represent a significant, novel contribution to the literature.
The dissertation committee consists of at least four people: a major professor, who serves as the chair of the committee, two faculty members from the department and an outside member (a faculty member from another department). The major professor and at least half of the committee must be members of the graduate faculty.
The dissertation proposal refers to the introduction, methods and proposed analyses of a research project (the exact format may differ across faculty). The dissertation proposal typically requires numerous drafts before it is ready. The major professor determines when the proposal is ready to be presented at the dissertation proposal meeting.
The dissertation defense meeting occurs after completing your dissertation project. Your dissertation will consist of an introduction, methods, results and discussion. When your major professor is satisfied with your paper, you will be given permission to schedule your dissertation defense. You will distribute final copies of your dissertation (check with the Thesis and Dissertation Handbook to ensure format is correct) to all your committee members and find a two-hour block of time when everyone can meet. It is customary to give committee members two weeks to review your dissertation before the meeting is held.
Before your defense meeting, you will need to get the signatures of your major professor and all committee members on the Thesis and Dissertation Handbook and submit this form to the College of Graduate Studies. This form must be submitted at least ten working days before your scheduled defense. The College of Graduate Studies will issue you a “Final Defense Report,” which you should give to your major professor.