Procedures for Doctoral Dissertation
Updated October 2019
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal
Approval: After the student completes all graduate coursework as described
in the Academic Advising Handbook and passes the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam,
he/she is officially admitted to Candidacy. The chair endorses the student’s
candidacy in Part 4 of the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination and Admission to
Candidacy form (Form SOE-C1) and sends it to the dean’s office for approval.
Then the candidate must identify a major professor and a topic for the doctoral
dissertation. Working with the major professor, the candidate prepares a
proposal for the dissertation and seeks approval following the procedure
- The candidate finishes the
dissertation proposal using the approved format. The major professor then
assembles and proposes a group of 2-3 readers for the dissertation which
must be approved by the department chair in advance of the public proposal
presentation as documented on the engineering doctoral dissertation
checklist form. The major professor and readers then constitute the doctoral
dissertation committee. Guidelines for the composition of the
dissertation committee are as follows:
- The major professor
must be a full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty within the School of
- Normally, readers are selected
from full-time, tenure-track faculty within the School. However, to take
full advantage of research resources at CUA and within the Washington
D.C. metropolitan area, some readers may be external members to
the School. However, in these cases, the full committee (major professor
+ readers) MAY NOT be comprised of a majority of external members.
All readers should be active researchers in the area of the dissertation
topic. Curriculum vitae for external members including a list of
publications in the last few years should be submitted to the department
chair for review. Adjunct faculty are considered external faculty.
- The candidate fills out the
Doctoral Dissertation Topic and Committee: Request for Approval Form and
submits it to the department chair for preliminary endorsement
(on checklist form).
- Only after the dissertation is
approved by the department chair, the candidate presents the dissertation
proposal at a public meeting attended by graduate students, faculty, and
the dissertation committee. The audience will have an opportunity to
question the candidate regarding the dissertation topic. After the
presentation, taking into account the comments of the examining committee,
the candidate will modify the proposal and/or the dissertation’s scope, as
appropriate. If needed, another presentation may be required. Then, a
finalized dissertation proposal is submitted to the dissertation committee
for its approval.
- After the dissertation proposal
is approved by the dissertation committee, the major professor submits the
proposal to the faculty of the department and presents the proposal on
behalf of the candidate at a departmental meeting. The major professor
requests the faculty to approve the dissertation proposal.
- After the faculty approves the
dissertation proposal, the candidate submits the Doctoral Dissertation
Topic and Committee: Request for Approval Form to the department chair and
the dean for their final endorsements. After the dean’s endorsement, the
form is submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate
Studies. The candidate cannot begin work on the dissertation until its
topic is approved by the vice provost and dean of graduate studies.