The dissertation is a scholarly contribution to knowledge in the student’s area of research and specialization. It should demonstrate original and substantial research, in-depth knowledge of the field of study and an ability to work independently.
After passing their candidacy examinations, the student begins work on the dissertation. The Advisory Committee, with any necessary or appropriate membership adjustments, now becomes the Dissertation Committee. All committees will be assembled according to the content of exams and of the dissertation. (For additional requirements pertaining to the Dissertation and the Dissertation Committee, consult the GSH, VII).
The student will prepare a written prospectus of the dissertation topic in consultation with members of the Dissertation Committee and present it to the Committee for approval at a formal one-hour defense, arranged by the student and dissertation advisor and chaired by the Graduate Advisor. The prospectus (normally a 15- to 20-page, double-spaced document plus a bibliography) should contain a detailed description of the topic, scope, and methodology of the proposed dissertation; a brief description of each of the chapters; and a bibliography. It is the responsibility of the student to deliver copies of the prospectus to all members of the Committee and the Graduate Advisor no later than ten days before the defense date. The formal defense of the prospectus must be held no later than the end of the semester following that in which the student passed the Candidacy Examination. If the student fails the prospectus defense, s/he may be allowed, at the discretion of the Dissertation Committee, to revise/rewrite the prospectus and to defend it again no later than the end of the following term (semester or summer). If s/he fails this second attempt, s/he will be dismissed from the program.
If there are changes in topic, scope, or methodology that substantially modify a dissertation, a revised prospectus must be submitted for approval to the Dissertation Committee and the Graduate Advisor.
FRIT 8899 is a faculty-led workshop in which Ph.D. candidates meet bi-weekly to discuss and critique their current dissertation research. All Ph.D. candidates in the department must register for one credit of 8899 each semester until they graduate. It will provide a forum in which candidates will be able to present their work orally and have at least one prospectus, chapter, conference paper, or article draft read and critiqued by their peers and a faculty member each semester. It is designed to keep dissertation writers on task and to help them develop and maintain an intellectual community with their professors and peers. It will also help them improve their writing and public speaking skills.
- Readers' Copies: In order to ensure that the readers have sufficient time to read the dissertation and that the candidate has sufficient time to make possible changes in the manuscript, the provisional first draft must be in the hands of the readers by the beginning of the second week of the semester in which the degree is sought. For important further details about timing, see GSH VII.9-12).
- The Final Oral Examination will not be scheduled until the dissertation advisor and the readers have approved the first draft by signing the Draft Approval Form. At that time, the student must also submit the complete, typed dissertation to the Graduate School for format review.
- The Final Oral Examination Committee is composed of the three-member Dissertation Committee, plus the Graduate School Representative. The Graduate Advisor only takes part in the Candidacy Examination if s/he is one of the student’s Dissertation Committee members.
- It is the responsibility of the candidate to deliver a copy of the approved dissertation draft to the Graduate School Representative no later than one week before the Final Oral Examination.
- The student is considered to have completed the Final Oral Examination successfully only when the vote by the Final Oral Examination Committee is unanimously affirmative.
The Graduate School stipulates that after being admitted to candidacy, a student has five years total to complete the dissertation (GSH, VII.14). If the dissertation is not completed within five years of the Candidacy Examination, the student's candidacy status will expire. At this point the Department can decide whether the student gets a chance at a second candidacy exam, or that further registration will be denied. If s/he passes this second examination, s/he will then have no more than two additional years to finish and successfully defend the dissertation.