The dissertation proposal should be completed as soon after the qualifying exam as possible, no later than the fall of their fourth year. The proposal is worked out in consultation with three faculty that will comprise the student’s dissertation committee. Although the adviser is normally a faculty member in the Religious Studies doctoral program, students are welcome to include committee members from other departments and schools at the university and, in certain circumstances, from another university. This committee will meet with the student for a prospectus colloquium that gathers the dissertation committee) to assess the scope, significance, and feasibility of the topic and the student’s preparation to accomplish it in a reasonable time.
After approval by this committee, a two-page, single-spaced summary of the proposal is submitted to the entire graduate faculty in Religious Studies and thence, if none object, to the Dean of the Graduate School. After acceptance of the prospectus, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D.
At the prospectus colloquium each student will stipulate when they expect to submit a first chapter draft. Soon after the first chapter is completed, the committee will meet with the student to read, review, and assess the chapter. This event is colloquially referred to as the “first chapter defense,” though the content of the discussion is much more constructive than that label suggests.