Dissertation Prospectus & Candidacy
By the time they finish exams, students should have some firm ideas about dissertation topics and move quickly toward defense of a prospectus. Expectations about the format and length of a prospectus will vary between subfields and among faculty members. In all cases, however, the prospectus should: identify a clear research question and its theoretical significance; discuss the types of data you will use or collect and the research methods you will use to answer the question; provide a timeline for finishing the research and writing of the dissertation. Examples of recently approved prospectuses will be available from the DGS or the instructor of PSc 8109.
Students must defend their dissertation prospectus no later than the semester after they have passed their second comprehensive exam. Extensions are possible only with the joint recommendation of the committee chair and the director of graduate studies. At the very latest, students must be done with all program requirements other than the dissertation by the time they have accumulated 63 credits (for full time students, this is halfway through your fourth year). At this point, you will be advanced to candidacy, aka, ABD (all but dissertation) status. Students who are not able to meet this target must consult with the director of graduate studies and receive permission to extend the deadline. Failure to follow this schedule can result in a variety of consequences, including suspension of fellowships or possibly, termination from the program.
A prospectus defense form must be completed by the student and signed by the committee. The student should bring the form to their defense.
» Prospectus Defense Form
Normally a student will advance to candidacy immediately following the successful defense of the dissertation prospectus. To be promoted to candidacy, students must have done the following:
- Pass their major field comprehensive examination with satisfactory pass or higher, and must pass their minor field comprehensive examination with a bare pass or higher
- Taken at least 48 hours of graduate credit in the program
- Secured approval of a dissertation prospectus by a committee of at least three faculty and successfully defended that prospectus
- Fulfill of all other degree requirements (such as research tools and methods)
In addition, student's performance in coursework must indicate probable success at the dissertation stage. Passing examinations at the minimum level does not necessarily provide this indication. When ready to advance, students should notify the director of graduate studies.
» Advancement to Candidacy Form