The two essays prepared at the end of the third year and before the qualifying examination serve as partial groundwork for preparing the dissertation proposal.
The dissertation proposal is completed after the qualifying exam, no later than the fall of the fourth year. It is worked out in consultation with three faculty who will compose the student’s dissertation committee. (These may or may not be the same faculty as oversee the exam.) Appended to the proposal, the student will submit an annotated bibliography of no fewer than sixty works pertinent to the dissertation. The dissertation committee will meet for a colloquium to assess the significance and feasibility of the proposal and the student’s plan to accomplish it in a reasonable time. Upon 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. Once accepted, this proposal becomes the basis for the eventual assessment of the completed dissertation. After acceptance of the proposal, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D.
At the defense of the proposal each student will stipulate when they expect to submit a first chapter draft. Soon after the chapter is submitted, the committee will be assembled to read, review, and assess the chapter.