Doctor of Philosophy


Dissertation Procedures & What to Expect

After successful completion of coursework, the student will then take the qualifying exam. Once the exam has been completed, the student is then a doctoral candidate and will proceed to develop and refine a dissertation proposal. Visit the qualifying exam page to learn more. 

While space limitations prohibit describing the many details that go into this stage of the process, it is suffice to say that students’ work represents their own unique interests. It is embedded in a coherent theoretical framework and is well thought-out in terms of the problem, literature review, theoretical and practical importance, as well as the design and methodology. (Please refer to the PhD Graduate Handbook for forming a committee early in the program.) Typically, the first three chapters (Problem, Review of Literature, and Design & Methodology) are developed with constant consultation from the major professor and input from committee members.

Once the student’s committee agrees to hold a proposal defense, the student defends his/her proposal in a public forum. If the committee agrees to allow the student to move forward (it is usual to make modifications depending upon further input from the committee and external chair of the defense), then the data collection phase begins. After analyses of the data (usually chapter four) and discussion of results (usually chapter 5), the student, pending committee members’ approval, progresses to the final stage – the dissertation defense. Again, this is done in a public forum. Although this overview is very brief, the student is invited and encouraged to seek more details from their major professor.