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Department of English
PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication

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Dissertation Process

This section covers your dissertation prospectus and dissertation. 


Before you can begin official work on your dissertation, your committee must formally approve your dissertation prospectus. Although you cannot submit a formal prospectus until you complete the candidacy examinations and satisfy the language requirement, you should begin discussing and drafting your prospectus as soon after selecting your Dissertation Committee as possible. The length and format of the prospectus may vary considerably and should be determined in consultation with your committee. In this prospectus, you should consider the following questions: 

· What thesis, hypothesis, or research question do you intend to explore? 

· How do you plan to develop your thesis, test your hypothesis, or answer your research question? 

. What research methods will you use? 

. What data will you collect? 

. How will you analyze the data collected? 

· What is currently known about this thesis, hypothesis, or research question? [Your prospectus should include a literature review or a working bibliography that the committee considers to be sufficiently comprehensive.] 

· Of what consequence is your proposed research? What is the significance of your proposed research? What will it add to the body of literature in your field? 

· What schedule will you follow to ensure timely completion of the dissertation? 

Your prospectus should include a project timetable for the dissertation. The full Dissertation Committee (i.e., your Dissertation Committee consisting of three faculty from the English Department and the added member from an Affiliate department) should meet with you as you begin work on your prospectus. If you have informally prepared a draft of your prospectus, you and your full Dissertation Committee can discuss that draft at such a meeting. The full Dissertation Committee must meet with you to assess the prospectus and indicate any necessary changes. While developing the prospectus, you should discuss your ideas with your committee members, either individually or collectively. After these meetings and after you have made any necessary changes to the prospectus, your Dissertation Committee must formally approve the prospectus. The committee must also approve any subsequent changes that committee members judge to be significant. The prospectus, accompanied by the Dissertation Prospectus Cover Sheet (see Appendices) signed by all committee members, should be delivered to the Director of Graduate Studies. 

The Dissertation

Following the approval of your dissertation prospectus and submission to the Director of Graduate Studies, your Dissertation Committee chair has the responsibility for guiding you through the research and writing of the dissertation, but you should consult regularly with all members of your committee throughout the dissertation process. It might, though, be a good idea for you to ask committee members whether they wish to be consulted about any drafts of chapters that you produce or whether they wish to receive chapters after you, in consultation with your committee chair, have a near final version. You should submit individual dissertation chapters to your committee members for review and approval before you submit the completed dissertation. If and when your committee considers your dissertation to be defensible, you must defend the dissertation publicly. At that time, your committee may ask for additional revisions of the dissertation. Every member of your committee must approve and sign your dissertation before you may submit it to the Graduate School for approval.  Students submit dissertations electronically  the Graduate School. Be aware of format and other requirements for the dissertation by going to the Graduate School’s “Theses and Dissertation” part of their website.