The Dissertation Committee, Statement of Purpose, and Proposal

Within six weeks of passing prelims, you should have selected your three-person dissertation committee and have provided the Director of the Graduate Literature Program with the names of your director and the two other committee members.  Once a committee has been established, any changes  must have the approval of the Director. 

Faculty on 49% joint appointment in English (and whose English Department affiliation is with the Literature program) may serve as one of the three members of a dissertation committee or co-direct the dissertation, but may not direct.Faculty who have affiliated status with English (and whose English Department affiliation is with the Literature program) may serve as one of the three members of a dissertation committee, but may not direct or co-direct the dissertation.

When you submit the names of your committee members to the program director, you must also file a brief statement of purpose (no longer than one page), signed by all members of the committee, identifying the area(s) of research the dissertation will deal with and focusing on the set of problems it will address. This statement is not contractual; it is a “working document,” distinct from the dissertation proposal.  (If the dissertation Statement of Purpose falls due during winter or summer break, it must be approved and filed no later than three weeks after the first day of classes of the upcoming semester [three weeks after the start of fall classes for documents that fall due during summer break; three weeks after the start of spring classes for documents that fall due during winter break]).

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is due no later than six months after you have  passed your comprehensive exams. Prepared in consultation  with your three-person dissertation committee, it should be no more than ten pages long and should describe the nature of your projects, its relation to existing scholarship and criticism on the subject, and its potential contribution to its field. (If the dissertation Proposal falls due during winter or summer break, it must be approved and filed no later than three weeks after the first day of classes of the upcoming semester [three weeks after the start of fall classes for documents that fall due during summer break; three weeks after the start of spring classes for documents that fall due during winter break]).

The proposal is to be understood not as an absolute contract or an end in itself but as a preliminary document designed to help you focus and define your project, which will be subject to modification as it unfolds. The proposal should include the following components, adapted to the needs of your particular project in consultation with your committee.

    1.  A statement of your subject, argument, or objective-- that is, the questions or problems the dissertation will address, the kinds of research it will involve, and the theoretical methodological approach you plan to use.

    2.  An explanation of how your project fits within the existing field and what kind of contribution you hope to make to it. You may wish to include a selected bibliography of some of the most important work that provides a context for your own.

    3.  A general plan of study, including a propose timetable for completion.

The proposal should be approved by your dissertation committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation

The dissertation should be a sustained project that meets appropriate standards of scholarship and demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conduct original research and analysis. Instructions relating to format of the dissertation and required abstracts are included in the Manual for Theses and Dissertations available in the Graduate Degree Certification Office and on the Graduate Homepage.

Before proceeding to the final oral examination (dissertation defense), the student must receive committee approval of a final copy of the dissertation, formatted according to Graduate College guidelines

Final Oral Defense

The examination focuses on the dissertation itself but can include general questioning related to the field(s) of study within the scope of the dissertation. The exact time and place of this examination shall be scheduled with the Graduate Degree Certification Office at least three weeks in advance. At the time of the exam the department will require that the student submit a draft of the final formatted dissertationUpon successful completion of this examination and acting upon the advice of the committee, the student submits the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College for the completion of the degree requirements.

 

Students advice for the dissertation.

 

Program(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences