Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal takes the form of an approximately 15-20 page prospectus of the dissertation, to be discussed immediately following the special examination at the dissertation colloquium. The main aim of the prospectus is to demonstrate that the dissertation will be both feasible and a contribution to scholarship. The prospectus should include several sections (including problem to be addressed, thesis, argument, method of approach, and contribution to scholarship), and should be followed by an annotated chapter outline and bibliography. Drafting of the dissertation prospectus must proceed in very close consultation with the faculty member who has agreed to be the advisor of the dissertation, but in other respects follows the general procedures for the drafting of an examination: that is, in consultation with one’s advisor, one chooses one’s dissertation committee the semester before the colloquium is to be held; the members of the committee provide feedback on the prospectus after one’s advisor initially approves it; and it is revised accordingly prior to the colloquium. The purpose of the dissertation colloquium is to assess the scope, structure, significance and feasibility of the dissertation prospectus. The members of the dissertation committee, present at the colloquium, are the same as the special examination committee and constitute one’s dissertation committee. In that capacity they are usually expected to provide feedback on the dissertation as it is being written, and to serve as the official readers of the dissertation when completed. After approval of the prospectus by the members of the dissertation committee at the colloquium, the student drafts a two-page, single-spaced summary of the prospectus to be submitted, via Heather Rivera, to the entire graduate faculty in Religious Studies and thence, if none object, to the Dean of the Graduate School. Upon approval by the Dean of the Graduate School, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD. Students must be admitted to candidacy by the beginning of their seventh semester in the program.