After successful completion of the written preliminary examination, each student, with input and consideration from an advisor, prepares a dissertation proposal. Typically, students submit a dissertation proposal to their qualifying committee within one year after successfully completing the written preliminary examination. The proposal should clearly demonstrate the student’s adequate preparation for the completion of the thesis research, which includes but is not limited to a thorough review of the pertinent literature, a presentation and discussion of the candidate’s own research, and a detailed research plan with sufficient breadth and depth for the completion of the thesis. The qualifying committee chair schedules an oral defense normally within one month of the written proposal submission. The presentation is given only to the dissertation committee members.
The oral presentation/defense of the proposal focuses on the dissertation problem. Students should demonstrate considerable depth of knowledge in the student’s area of specialization and a clear understanding of the research methods that are needed for successful completion of the dissertation research. The oral presentation/defense begins with a presentation by students on their dissertation topic and is followed by questions and suggestions from the qualifying committee.
On the basis of the written proposal and oral defense, the qualifying committee decides whether the student should be advanced to candidacy, asked to modify and enhance the proposal, or requested to withdraw from the program.