After the student has successfully passed the Comprehensive Exam, he/she may begin writing the Dissertation Proposal. This consists of two parts:
- A two-page written summary addressing:
- Statement of the Problem;
- Contribution and Originality;
- Selected Bibliography.
- An Oral Presentation fulfilling the following criteria:
- The candidate must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the general subject area;
- The candidate must display reasonably comprehensive familiarity with the technical literature relevant to the projected field of study;
- The candidate is expected to clearly define the problem at hand and identify the anticipated contributions that will mark the success of the proposed study;
- The candidate must distinguish and situate the originality of the expected contributions, and compare them to existing results and/or alternate approaches to the problem;
- The candidate must answer satisfactorily any questions from the committee relating to the field of study, the expected contributions, and the potential impact of the proposed work.
The university requirements stipulate that the candidate should not embark in research beyond the preliminary stage of the investigation prior to approval of the topic by the University, which is granted/rejected based on the two-page written summary. The Oral Presentation is required within three to six months of the University's approval of the dissertation topic, and is intended to satisfy the department's requirement for verifiable preliminary results; it is usually accompanied by a Long Form summary (between 20 and 40 pages). At the dissertation committee's discretion, a combined oral presentation, which addresses the University's requirements for approval in parallel with the department's requirement for verifiable preliminary results, may be acceptable.
Following successful completion of the research objectives laid out in the dissertation proposal, the complete dissertation is formally written and presented to the dissertation committee. This is followed by an oral defense in which the Ph.D. candidate is to present the major findings of the research project to a public audience, and successfully answer all questions raised by the committee members.