Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal and the specialty exam serve different purposes and should be viewed as separate activities, even though often executed concurrently. The dissertation proposal marks the beginning of the doctoral research and sets the tone for the dissertation itself. Its intent is

  • for the student to isolate and formulate a particular problem or a small set of particular, related problems whose solution is important to the research community and whose solution is significant enough to merit being called doctoral research;
  • for the student to assimilate background information to demonstrate understanding of the research that has been done on the problem(s) and how to proceed;
  • for the Advisory Committee to decide if the student has done the first two items sufficiently well;
  • for the Advisory Committee to make suggestions as to
    • additional background information which should be considered
    • how the research problem(s) should be modified, and/or
    • how the proposed methods of investigation should be modified; and
  • for the Advisory Committee to verify that if proposed research goes as planned results will be worthy of doctoral designation.

While the student may have a wealth of material to cover prior to actually beginning doctoral research, the advisor and other Advisory Committee members can help make the task of assembling and assimilating the appropriate background do-able, exciting, and rewarding.