Departments and programs have different procedures and requirements for the doctoral dissertation prospectus, but all students must submit a written statement in sufficient detail and analytic specificity to define the research problem, citing pertinent sources of data and bibliography, and describing the methodology to be used. Students are responsible for ascertaining with their department/program whether there are additional requirements for the prospectus.
Doctoral dissertation prospectuses shall be approved in writing by a committee of at least three faculty, including at least two named on the list of approved dissertation sponsors from the student’s home department/program. A dissertation sponsor (or sponsors), from the list of approved dissertation sponsors from the student’s home department/program, must be named at the time of the defense.
After the defense, the completed Dissertation Prospectus Committee Report, signed and approved by the committee members, must be submitted by the department to the Dissertation Office in 107 Low Library.
Please note: In programs in which the defense of the dissertation prospectus is not one of the requirements for the MPhil degree, students are expected to defend their dissertation prospectus within six months after completion of the MPhil degree. Students should consult with their director of graduate studies to determine whether their department or program has an earlier deadline. However, and as stated in the section on Satisfactory Academic Progress, a student must defend the prospectus within four years from initial registration: "The Graduate School considers progress to be minimally satisfactory when progress is such that a student completes the MA degree within two years from initial registration, the MPhil degree and the prospectus defense within four years from initial registration, and the PhD within nine years from initial registration."
Students must defend the prospectus successfully by May 31 of their fourth year. Students who do not meet this deadline will lose good academic standing, be placed on probation, and not have their stipend disbursed for the ensuing fall semester. In exceptional circumstances, with a written rationale from the DGS and sponsor and the approval of GSAS, students may receive a final opportunity to defend their prospectus before September 30 of the fifth year. Students who do so successfully by September 30 of the fifth year will receive the full Dissertation Fellowship retroactively. Students who do not pass their prospectus by September 30 of their fifth year will lose PhD candidacy. For students who are off-cycle (those whose fifth year of matriculation begins in January), the corresponding deadlines described above will be December 15 and February 28.