Fall 2014 Cohort

Prospectus and Dissertation

There are four steps involved in completing the dissertation requirement:

  1. Form a committee
    The student usually selects a dissertation committee once they have finished coursework and both comps. This committee will consist of at least three members of the University graduate faculty. At least two of the committee members, including the chairperson, must be Sociology graduate faculty. The third member must be a graduate faculty member from outside the discipline of Sociology. Five College Sociology faculty members who are approved as University Graduate Faculty are viewed as “inside” Sociology. Formal appointment of the committee is made by the Dean of the Graduate School. The student can ask the Graduate Program Director to request graduate faculty status for a visiting professor or other non-graduate faculty member but the Graduate School must approve graduate faculty status.
  2. Write and defend a Prospectus
    The prospectus is also known as the dissertation proposal. It typically summarizes the relevant literature, lays out the theory that guides the research, data and method, and may also include preliminary findings. Once the committee has approved the draft, the student presents it orally to them for discussion and comments. All members of the Department are invited to participate in this oral presentation (“defense”). The committee often recommends changes before final approval of the prospectus. The prospectus is not considered completed until the corrected prospectus and a signature page signed by all committee members and the department chair are submitted to the Graduate School.
  3. Write and successfully defend the Dissertation
    Upon tentative approval of the dissertation by the committee (usually in next-to-final draft form), the Graduate Programs Manager will schedule a final oral dissertation defense. The Graduate School requires at least one month prior notification of the scheduling of each doctoral defense. Although this examination focuses on the contents of the dissertation, it need not be limited strictly to this topic but may include the general area of the dissertation topic. The University community is invited to attend this examination.

    For a student to pass the examination, a unanimous positive vote by the dissertation committee is required. This is the typical outcome in our department. If two or more members of the committee cast negative votes, the student will fail the defense. If only one negative vote is cast, the outcome of the defense is subject to review and action by the University Graduate Council. These are rare events; successful defenses are the norm. It is also the norm for committees to require revisions even following successful defenses.
  4. University paperwork
    After successfully defending the dissertation, completing any required revisions, and getting final approval from the chair, the student needs to submit a signature page on acid-free bond signed in black by all members of the committee and the department chair and a final copy of the dissertation in proper format via ScholarWorks to the Graduate School. These have to be formatted and submitted according to these guidelines. The student should also submit a copy to the Graduate Programs Manager for our files.