The next step after the qualifying examinations and admission to candidacy is the preparation of the dissertation. A faculty research committee is chosen by the candidate consisting of a dissertation director, two other readers from the department, and a representative of the student's minor area.
Normally the candidate first approaches a potential director and discusses with him or her the composition of the remainder of the committee. It is important that the student seek the approval of each potential committee member personally. The Graduate School requires that the research committee comprise members of the graduate faculty. The student should consult with the department’s graduate secretary as to which edoc is required.
The student next prepares a dissertation proposal in consultation with his or her director and research committee.
The proposal should include:
- A brief, clear statement of the proposed topic.
- An account of what has been done on the subject and how the candidate's proposed topic relates to earlier scholarship.
- A brief account of the methods of research that are to be employed.
- A tentative outline.
- A bibliography of works directly relevant to the topic.
An oral examination on the dissertation follows its completion. This is attended by the candidate's committee as well as other members of the department and graduate school faculty who wish to attend.