There are three steps in the Dissertation Prospectus process:
- The student presents a draft of the Dissertation Prospectus to his or her Candidacy Exam Committee at least one week prior to the written portion of the exam.
- The student then presents a revised Dissertation Prospectus to his or her Dissertation Committee in a Prospectus Conference, typically no more than six weeks after the completion of the Candidacy Exam.
- The student presents a final version of the Dissertation Prospectus, approved by his or her Dissertation Chair, to the Director of Graduate Studies, typically no more than two weeks after the Prospectus Conference. The approved final version of the Prospectus should be submitted together with a Prospectus Approval Form [pdf].
The Dissertation Prospectus should:
- state the problem that the candidate proposes to solve;
- explain the significance of the project and its relation to current scholarship in the field;
- describe the candidate's current knowledge of the subject;
- indicate the direction his or her investigation will take;
- reflect his or her familiarity with relevant bibliographical materials and critical methods.
Students and faculty should keep in mind that the Prospectus is a preliminary project, not a mini-dissertation. It is meant to help students move on to the dissertation writing stage of their programs. Typically, the Prospectus should be no longer than 8 to 12 double-spaced pages plus a working bibliography.
The Dissertation Committee consists of a minimum of 3 faculty members, chaired by a faculty member who holds "P" status (typically, a tenured Associate or Full Professor). This Committee is constituted separately from the Candidacy Exam Committee and can include faculty members who did not serve on the Examination Committee.
The Prospectus Conference is a meeting of the student and all members of her or his Dissertation Committee to discuss the revised Prospectus and the student's plans for researching and writing the dissertation. The Prospectus Conference also provides an opportunity for the student and the Committee to set guidelines for their working relationship.
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