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How to write a dissertation prospectus (with outline and examples), published by nicholas tippins on april 30, 2020 april 30, 2020.

Last Updated on: 2nd February 2024, 05:41 am

Your dissertation prospectus is the first formal document you submit to your dissertation committee outlining your intended study. It is not a long document; usually around 10-20 pages. It should be submitted fairly soon after establishing candidacy.

It is wise to discuss your prospectus with your Chair and committee members before writing it. They will give you valuable pointers about your intended study, and you’ll save yourself the effort of rewriting it after you get their feedback.

In this article, I’ll provide an example outline of a dissertation prospectus, discuss the basics of how to write a dissertation prospectus, and also explore the similarities between writing a prospectus and asking someone on a date.

Dissertation Prospectus: Example Outline 

While every institution will have different requirements (and you should absolutely look at those before writing your dissertation prospectus), there are a few basics that are common to most of them. 

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Title : This is more of a labor than you might have anticipated. Gone are the days of last-minute essay titles. The dissertation prospectus title is a hyper-specific description of what you plan to study. It should align with your problem and purpose statements. 

Focus, or Statement of Thesis : This is where you describe what you’ll study. No need to write a ton here–a few sentences or short paragraphs is usually sufficient.

Again, this must be very specific. It’s easiest to think of this section as a central question of your dissertation. Can you distill the focus of your dissertation into one question? If not, chances are your topic is too broad.

Since this section will become your Problem Statement and Purpose statement , it can be helpful to consider “what is the problem I’m trying to solve,” and “with that in mind, what is the purpose of this study?” 

Summary of Existing Literature: What other studies have been done on the subject? This is the very beginning of what will become your Literature Review . It’s important that you’re familiar with the landscape before you dive into studying a subject so that you can be sure that you’re building off of existing knowledge and adding a genuine contribution to the field.

Methodology: Discuss the methods you plan on using. You should know whether your study will be qualitative or quantitative, as well as any theoretical or conceptual frameworks you plan on using.

Outline: Some institutions ask that you provide a brief outline of each chapter. 

Timeline : Some institutions ask for a rough timeline. Make sure to account for time researching existing literature, collecting data, and writing.

dissertation prospectus outline

Bibliography: Here, you’ll list the sources that you reference in your prospectus. 

How to Write a Dissertation Prospectus

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Writing a Dissertation Prospectus Is Like Asking Someone on a Date

One of the most common challenges students have when they begin writing their dissertation prospectus is lack of specificity. The level of specificity required in academic writing is unique, and it often takes students a while to grasp just how specific they need to be.

One (sort of) helpful way to look at this is that it’s like asking someone out on a date. In both a dissertation proposal and a date proposal, you need to communicate the following information:

  • Who is involved?
  • What are we doing?
  • Where are we going?
  • When is this happening?

In a date scenario, usually that’s you and me. But maybe two of our mutual friends are coming along for a double date. Or an adult chaperone. Or maybe it’s you and one of my friends who I think would be perfect for you, even though you think he’s an asshole. Do you see how it’s important to know who we’re talking about? 

Knowing who is equally important in a dissertation. And we have to be super-specific here. Not just “branch managers,” but “branch managers at a medium-sized paper company in Pennsylvania.” 

man writing dissertation prospectus on his tablet computer in the kitchen

For one of the first dates I went on with my partner, I neglected to tell her that we were going hiking. She showed up in a sundress and pretty little sandals (which I also neglected to notice were not appropriate for hiking). I should also mention that “hiking” for me is more like bush-whacking; it involves following deer trails, climbing over fallen trees, scaling small cliffs, and jumping over streams. 

Despite her attire, we had a blast, and only once did she mention that she “maybe should have brought different shoes.” If I were to do it over again, though, I would tell her what we were doing so she could dress appropriately.

It’s also important to know what you’re studying. What phenomenon, event, etc. Are you studying employee engagement, 

If we’re going on a date, I have to know where to meet you. At a cute local diner or L’etoile? Knowing where we’re going only makes sense. If I plan on taking you to Venice, but you think we’re meeting at our favorite cafe, there might be a problem–no matter how nice Venice is. 

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See, knowing where we’re talking about is important. Guess what–the same is true for a dissertation.

Most dissertation studies (at least those with human subjects) involve a limited area. It’s important to know where a study took place in order for future researchers to account for the location when trying to replicate your data. It’s also important to know where in order to interpret the data in context.

For example, upper-level managers in banks in Nigeria have a different context than those in the United States. Women between the ages of 25 and 40 who earn the majority of their household income have a different context depending on whether they’re in Tokyo, rural India, or a medium-sized city in Brazil. Each of these countries has different cultures, laws, economies, and historical events that affect the data you collect.

This is something most people get right when asking someone on a date. It’s hard to meet up if you’re there at different times. However, not everyone gets this right in the dissertation prospectus.

You can explore about the causes or the effects of the financial crisis in Rome, but what you discover will differ depending on whether you mean the Roman Empire’s financial crisis of 33 A.D. , or the Italian financial crisis of 2018 . 

dissertation prospectus outline

How to Write a Dissertation Prospectus: Summary

Your prospectus is usually the first formal document you submit on your way to writing your dissertation . When done well, it can provide you a strong basis for writing your Chapter 1. I encourage you to reach out to your committee before writing it to discuss what your plans are, and again if anything is unclear. You’ll save valuable time by doing this proactively, and you’ll also learn the essential vocabulary of the academic.

Nicholas Tippins

Nicholas has been a dissertation editor since 2015. He founded a dissertation editing firm that served clients around the world. Currently, he manages the editing team at Beyond PhD Coaching.

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What is a Prospectus?

A dissertation prospectus is a document that shows the researcher’s plan for the dissertation project. This document should provide enough information to verify the need for their study, the way it is situated amongst existing literature, and how the research will be facilitated. A committee will use this document to verify the viability of a study and to start the conversation regarding where the research could go or other potential avenues to explore.

Note: The prospectus is only the initial starting point, so the focus of the study may change as you continue to research and develop your ideas.

In the prospectus, you are primarily responsible for identifying:

  • What you are researching
  • Why it matters
  • What the foundation of the research is

Use Sources Develop Argument

The dissertation will follow the format of the prospectus template . It is primarily modeled after the professional version of APA 7th edition, but does require minor deviations.

The prospectus is generally a minimum of 15 pages, is double-spaced, and includes an extensive reference section. Remember that the prospectus is the initial plan. While a fair amount of information and evidence is necessary to show a firm foundation, it should not be exhaustive. Provide the information that is necessary in a concise and clear manner.

The prospectus will consist of the following sections/components:

The title of your dissertation should be relevant, clear, concise, and informative.

Focus: Can your readers determine the focus and topic of your research?

Approach: Does indicating your approach help the reader to determine the overall impact on your results?

Specificity: Were you specific enough about the factors or aspects studied?

Examples: UNDERSTANDING THE EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN STUDENT VETERANS DURING THEIR TRANSITION PROCESS FROM THE MILITARY INTO HIGHER EDUCATION: IDENTITY, BELONGING, AND VOICE IN WRITING COURSES AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS IN OTHER DISCIPLINES (Broding, 2020)

THREE CASE STUDIES IN QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES TO AGROECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT (Baird, 2019)

Problem Background

What is the central problem that your research will address? The existence and extent of this problem should be verified with research.

Context: Explain the depth of the problem with enough information for readers to understand the reason it is an issue

Issue: State the problem clearly and precisely

Importance: Indicate who it influences or what would happen if this problem were not solved.

Objective: Situate your research here. What will you achieve with your research? What is your aim? ( tense: future simple – This study will…. )

Problem Statements

From the context of your problem background, identify specific problems that your research aims to address. These should be stated in a single sentence format (at most two) and be supported with a citation.

Note: The problem statements should link to the research questions

dissertation prospectus outline

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study will explain, in simple terms, what the point of the study is. You can think of this as identifying the research type, direction, purpose (reason for it), and what the overall goal is.

Begin the sentence with: “The purpose of this (qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods) study is to (insert action verb).

Action verbs for qualitative studies: explore, understand, describe, etc.

Action verbs for quantitative studies: examine, analyze, predict, etc.

Theoretical/Conceptual Framework

The framework will indicate the structure and basis of your proposed research. For more information on frameworks, see the framework page.

Research Questions

Indicate a research question(s) that derive from the problem statements previously mentioned.

Specific: Does each question focus on one issue/problem?

Clear: Does your reader understand what you are researching?

Legitimate: Is it a question (open-ended) and not a statement?

Answerable: Can you answer the question that you have asked with the resources and time you have available?

Nature of the Study

Explain your proposed method, research design, required data, data collection method, and data analysis methodology.

Note: This is a plan for a future study, so future simple is used.

Method: Qualitative, quantitative, mixed

Research design: Evaluation, action research, correlational, quasi-experimental, grounded theory, phenomenological, etc.

Data: What data is needed? (Primary/secondary?)

Data collection method: Survey, questionnaire, interview, observation, focus group, etc.

Data analysis methodology: exploratory analysis, descriptive analysis, regression analysis, etc.

Consider aspects like: location of study, time frame, participants, sampling, etc.

Significance of the Study

Indicate the potential impact of your study.

Contribution: How will your findings contribute to your field?

Gap: What will your research add to the gap you identified?

Benefit: Who will benefit most from this research?

The references typically span 3-5 pages. All references should be formatted using APA 7th edition. See the APA page for further information on properly formatting your references.

Samples of Prospectuses

When Do I Complete the Prospectus?

The prospectus will be completed in the second year of your doctoral program during the RES721 course.

Can I Start Working on it Before RES721?

For suggestions on what you can be working on now to prepare for your dissertation, please see here .

What if I need help?

For help on the prospectus, you can see the list of services the Doctoral Writing Center provides here .

Dissertation Prospectus and Proposal Writing

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dissertation prospectus outline

General Information

dissertation prospectus outline

The prospectus, or proposal, is the first step of your dissertation. It serves as a plan for your project, an identification of your research goals and method(s), and an articulation of the importance of your work. Alongside its preparation, you will also select members of your committee, who will provide you with important feedback. 

Beginning the document often marks a significant change of pace and approach for graduate students. The immensity of the task that is writing a dissertation can feel overwhelming, and can make the prospectus feel equally insurmountable. The prospectus, however, is meant to check precisely these moments. As a plan made in consultation with your committee, it is something to hold onto as you work through, and often get lost in, the details of your project. 

Different departments often have different expectations for the prospectus. These include the nature and importance of a literature review, of explaining your method, of discussing the limits of the pr o blem you identify, etc. While some of the advice we offer here is suitable for any graduate student, we also recognize these differences, and so, to aid as broad a range of students as possible, we have compiled a set of sample documents from a range of disciplines below.

  • General Guidelines for Dissertation Prospectuses and Proposals

Sample Documents

  • Anthropology (Cultural Track) Prospectus
  • Art History Prospectus
  • English Sample Prospectus
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Dissertation Prospectus

A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing. It is not an abstract (which is to say, a summary of a completed dissertation) or an introductory chapter of a dissertation, but rather  an attempt to describe what is planned before it has actually been done. Since it is meant to be submitted soon after completion of the candidacy examination, it need not be a huge document. Indeed, it could be around fifteen double-spaced pages in length (roughly 3500-4000 words) with up to ten further pages of bibliography. As indicated, the prospectus should provide a preliminary description of the proposed dissertation. It should delineate what topic and area the dissertation will explore; discuss why this topic and area merit such exploration; and include a provisional chapter outline and as complete a bibliography as possible. The outline should be as precise as possible, even if it is very likely to be modified in the course of writing the dissertation.

Finding, defining, and communicating a topic that is at once significant and of realistic scope are tasks that require discussion and cooperation between the dissertation writer and faculty members. Therefore, the dissertation writer is encouraged to show drafts of the prospectus to his or her dissertation committee and other faculty members. After these initial consultations, the writer will submit the final version of the prospectus for formal approval by the committee. The committee will then meet collectively with the candidate to discuss the project and its implementation.

There is no single recipe for a good dissertation prospectus. But all writers should answer, to the best of their abilities at this early stage of research, certain fundamental questions:

·         What is the central problem that the dissertation will address? This problem can be theoretical, critical, or historical; but it should, in most cases, be presented as a question or related set of questions to which the dissertation will attempt to find answers. It is important that the problem and hypothetical answers be stated from the outset, so that your research will not risk becoming random, and your exposition will not lapse into mere description. The sense that an argument is being made should be constantly kept in mind.

·         To persuade your reader that you are not just reinventing the wheel or restating what has already been said, you should include a brief review of the present “state of the art” with respect to your topic. Has this topic been treated before?  How does your approach differ from earlier ones?  Has new evidence appeared (for example, a new primary source) since previous treatments?

Outlining a sequence of potential chapters will help you clarify the argument of your dissertation and check the balance of its parts in relation to one another. A chapter should be conceived as approximately 30-40 double-spaced pages. If the major sections of your dissertation seem likely to exceed this length, plan to subdivide them. A finished dissertation is generally 200-300 pages long. You will find that developing an outline helps your thinking to move forward substantially, so that the actual writing of the dissertation is more clearly focused.

Once you have drafted your prospectus under the guidance of your dissertation committee, you might want to have it read by someone who knows nothing about your topic, to see whether you have clearly set out your problem and defined a workable method.  Seeking out a general reader right at the start is a good reminder that although you may be writing on a specialized topic, your dissertation should be written in clear, intelligible prose. Make sure you define the theoretical categories you are introducing, and try to avoid technical jargon unless it is necessary to the intricacies of your argument.

Prospectuses and dissertations tend to either lose themselves in detail, or to be too general. To avoid this, try to do what you would in any paper you write: make sure that your main argument remains clearly above ground, and that each paragraph has a clear connection with the ones preceding and following it. The prospectus is not a mini-dissertation, and need not involve more time in writing and revising than another paper of comparable length. Yet enough care and stylistic grace should be exercised so that the prospectus clearly and concisely articulates the project, its arguments, methods, and special considerations in a manner that anyone in interdisciplinary studies can grasp.

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dissertation prospectus outline

Dissertation Prospectus

Thesis and Dissertation Forms (English Dept. Graduate Studies Office)

Resources for Thesis & Dissertation Writing   (list compiled by WPA-listserv)

What is the Prospectus?

The prospectus, either for the M.A. Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation, is a written plan for the research the student intends to complete. At the Ph.D. level, students must defend the prospectus in an oral examination after passing the Ph.D. exams.

Goal:  To position yourself within an academic conversation and define the methods for your research project. Your stance and voice dominate the entire discussion, including the literature review. Entering the conversation, or facilitating a new one, is the key, and having questions to ask, if not answers you hope to find.

Length:  20 – 25 pages of text, including a working bibliography, chapter outline, and timeline for completing the work.

Introduction:

  • Why this research is important or necessary
  • Focus of the project and / or specific research questions addressed by the research
  • What you hope to discover, presented as a thesis statement or a hypothesis

Literature Review:  Much of the prospectus should review the scholarly literature, whether divided into topical / thematic sections or as an ongoing discussion from theory to application, specific analyses to general reception, historical contexts to specific texts, or another organizational structure.

Methodology:  How do you plan to conduct the research? Describe theoretical frameworks or the philosophy that underlies your methods. Then name your specific methods for analysis and/or data collection. Many projects use a mix of specific methods and draw upon specific inspirational sources as models.

Chapter Outline:  Parse out the sections of the dissertation project based on specific texts, theoretical frameworks, themes, or topics to be addressed. Having logically distinct sections for completing your work allows you to shift from one section to another if you become stuck.

Schedule:  A basic plan for when you plan to complete each section of work. This plan can be as detailed as the writer or committee thinks is necessary.

Working Bibliography:  List the sources that directly support the literature review and models for your methodology, but include everything consulted at this point, not just those cited in the prospectus. Some projects separate the sources into sections that indicate which sources supports specific themes, topics or methods.

The Oral Defense (for dissertations):  In a separate document, outline your talking points, select visuals or other examples, and anticipate challenges during the research process. Plan to explain these in a 15- or 20-minute presentation during the prospectus defense. A tentative writing schedule will be discussed so that the committee knows how the project will proceed and who will read which sections. You might end with questions or concerns to offer the committee.

Explanation from a Sample Dissertation Prospectus

Introduction  sets the stage by identifying a “lack of conversation” and “dissonance” among scholarly discussions from Writing Center studies, Composition Pedagogy, professionalization literature, and pedagogical practices when she chose to focus on the lived professional and educational experiences of graduate student tutor / teachers. The writer first examines issues of definitions and words that fail to encompass the complexity of graduate students within their multiple professional identities and pedagogical spaces. This discussion leads to a key term, “reflexive reflection” that incorporates discourse communities and complicates current descriptions of what we think of as “good” pedagogical theory and goals.

Literature Review:  Still within the Introductory section, these definitional research problems lead immediately to a review of literature about discourse communities and communities of practice in order to gather the strands or fragments that will be brought together in this new conversation about a subject that challenges and disrupts the individual bodies of scholarly conversation. The writer’s strategy is an organic one, with the literature discussed throughout her argument, that then forces scholars to talk to one another in a kind of musical retuning into counterpoint harmony. The introductory section offers many of the specific argument moves in miniature, within and against the literature, which will be developed and expanded by the empirical evidence collected during the research process.

Methodology  makes the case for lore as a flexible, experience-based, narrative methodology and takes on the scholarly debates about lore’s value and how it supports the goals of the project to examine reflection and reflexivity in more fluid, community-based ways. The writer then moved into describing the specific methods, which are the specific tools for empirical and ethnographic teacher research: surveys, interviews, teaching portfolios and observations. Each stage of data collection is described and the planned sequence builds toward the necessary triangulation of data and the goals of building an interpretation.

Chapter Outline  reminds us that the dissertation will take on scholarship throughout as it builds an argument based on the evidence collected about graduate student tutor/teachers. The Introductory chapter will answer the broad research questions by using a literature review as well as some of the research results. This chapter and all the subsequent chapters are driven by specific research questions that have data collection tools associated with them. Here’s where we find a specific statement of what the writer is planning to find, stated as hypotheses that will tested and proven by the data collected:

I believe these questions will lead me to find that graduate students develop the ability to reflexively reflect on teaching practices when they have a tutoring background and that teaching informs tutoring practices as tutoring informs teaching practices. Further, this study seeks to establish that a greater depth of professional development occurs when graduate students embody spaces of teaching and tutoring, as opposed to embodying one or the other throughout their graduate experience. Finally, the data collected will, theoretically, illustrate that a greater understanding of composition theory and pedagogy occurs when graduate students also act as tutors and also that a greater understanding of practitioner-researcher methodology occurs when graduate students function as both teacher and tutor during the graduate experience.

The subsequent chapters are thematic in terms of these expected findings: Teacher Education Theory, Teaching and Tutoring Practices Informing Each Other, Professional Development, Enactment/Embodiment of Multiple Spaces, and Implications for Research.

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In the third year doctoral students prepare a dissertation prospectus and present it at the prospectus conference, which is held yearly during the third week in January.

The conference is a forum in which students share their ideas with faculty and colleagues, and receive suggestions as they begin to research and write their dissertation.

Following the conference, advisors may either approve the prospectus, or ask the student to revise it. It is suggested that students begin working on the prospectus immediately after passing the general exam , so that they are adequately prepared.

A typical prospectus includes the following:

Statement of thesis.

What is the problem you wish to study and what is its interest or significance in current historical thinking? State clearly and concisely how you presently conceive this problem and how you suppose it can be resolved.

Historiographical Context

What work has, and has not, been done in this field and on this problem? Discuss relevant scholarship critically. It is not necessary to criticize specific failings; but show what is understood to be the merits and limitations of relevant works. How do you propose to develop, challenge, or depart from existing positions or themes in historical literature?

Method and Theory

Outline an approach to the subject. If the conception has theoretical aspects, discuss them critically. Have scholars in other fields developed concepts of potential interest to the topic? Think about method and theory, even if there is a decision not to engage much with external perspectives and theory. The faculty neither encourages nor discourages such engagement, but cautions that original historical work should not simply illustrate other people's ideas.

Give an account of the sources for the subject. Stress primary sources, the difficulties they present, their location (print, manuscript, or any other form), and their accessibility. Identify the principal libraries and repositories as well as other locations and persons. Do not overlook unpublished doctoral or master's research.

Draft a tentative chapter outline and schedule of tasks and stages for the writing of the dissertation. Allow time for research, travel to collections, writing, and revision.

Bibliography

List the primary and secondary sources used to develop the prospectus.

About the Prospectus Conference

Presentations last for 30 minutes. For the first 15 minutes students present their prospectus, and the remaining 15 minutes are reserved for questions from the audience. By December 2nd, the graduate coordinator will ask for three pieces of information as a prelude to the conference:

1.   Provisional title of the presentation 2.   Requests for audio/visual equipment 3.   Names of faculty members who should be invited to the presentation.

By January 13 candidates will submit a 15-20 page written prospectus to the graduate coordinator that forms the basis of the presentation. The prospectus should include a select bibliography and the names of archives in which research will be conducted. For examples of last year's conference see the  Graduate Student Resources site.

About the Prospectus Approval

Before spring break in the G3 year, and after the G3 conference has occurred, the graduate student will initiate a meeting of their dissertation committee. The goal of this meeting is to generate additional feedback on the prospectus and set norms and milestones for the research and writing of the dissertation. If necessary, the chair of the dissertation committee may ask for revisions of the prospectus. The final version of the prospectus must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator no later than June 30 (preferably much earlier) along with the approval form signed by the advisor.

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Dissertation Prospectus and Defense Procedures

What is the dissertation prospectus, and what is the process for the prospectus defense?

Once you have completed coursework, you will begin working on a dissertation prospectus – a document outlining the topic of/questions driving the dissertation, and the research design for answering these questions. These documents vary in length, form, and scope/detail/; but typically they will identify a topic or question that the dissertation will aim to elucidate, an explanation of why the topic/question represents a significant subject of inquiry, and why further work on it is justified or needed, an outline of how you propose to go about investigating this question, why you have adopted the approach and research plan that you have, and a preliminary outline of the structure of the dissertation.

You should work with a committee of faculty members (typically three) to develop ideas for the dissertation, and draft the prospectus. Once you receive approval to do so from all committee members, you should contact the Ph.D. Program Officer to arrange a prospectus defense, which may be held in person or virtually, and lasts for 90 minutes; you must notify the PhD Program Officer of the date of the prospectus defense at least 10 days in advance. Each member of the committee must be present for the defense, Prospectus defenses are typically open to all department faculty and graduate students, and invited guests; but you may request that only department faculty be permitted to attend.

Once the prospectus defense is completed, and after making any revisions required by your committee, you should obtain and complete the Graduate School’s official dissertation proposal form. This form should include a clear, succinct statement of the problem, related literature, procedure, method of research, primary and secondary sources, as well as an indication of the theoretical contribution the dissertation will make to political science. You should share the form with both your committee chair and the DGS for approval, before it is submitted to the Graduate School.

What is the process for defending and submitting the dissertation?

Before scheduling a dissertation defense, your committee must certify by majority vote that the dissertation is “ready for defense,” by completing and signing “ Doctoral Project or Dissertation Reviewers Report .” You and your committee must ensure that this report is signed and submitted to the Graduate School at least one week before the date of the defense.

Once the committee has provided its consent, you should work with the Ph.D. Program Officer to arrange a date, time, and place for the dissertation defense ; you must advise the PhD Program Officer of the date of the defense at least two weeks in advance, so that the defense may be announced, and a room can be reserved (if necessary). No form is required for this, but candidates should include the title of their dissertation and the names of their committee members in the email to the PhD Program Officer.

The dissertation defense involves a public presentation, which any member of the academic community may attend and ask questions. It typically begins with a 10-15 minute presentation of your project, followed by a period during which your committee alone may ask you questions. After this, the dissertation chair asks if there are any questions from others in attendance. This public session is followed by a closed meeting of the committee during which it deliberates. The candidate will be considered to have passed the dissertation defense when the committee certifies by majority vote that the defense was successful.

Once the candidate has passed the defense, the dissertation committee completes and signs two forms reporting the results of the defense. These forms are coordinated and signed by different combinations of people, and submitted to different offices. You will be responsible for ensuring the completion of the “ Dissertation Cover Sheet ,” which is sent to the DGS for signature and submission to the Graduate School. The DGS or PhD Program Officer is responsible for ensuring that a separate form, the “ Thesis/Dissertation Defense Report Form” is completed by the Committee members, and submitted to the University Registrar’s Office – you need not (and are in fact not allowed) to see or submit this form. You are then solely responsible for submitting forms related to the electronic filing of your dissertations.  which can be found here: https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/9e40v4pm9pwjvjarip4355ock2qrak2v

Major Dissertation Deliverables

In working with dissertation students, I like to see three products along the way to the proposal defense (each of which generally requires several drafts before it is considered final; see my dissertation timeline for more information). These products include the following, in sequence:

  • Deliverable 1: A dissertation prospectus outline, which gives in the broadest terms what the researcher plans to do. This sentence-level outline generally runs around 3-5 pages and includes the sections below.
  • Deliverable 2: A dissertation prospectus, which provides an overview of what the researcher is planning for the proposal. It builds upon the prospectus outline, generally running around 25-40 pages in length, as indicated below.
  • Deliverable 3: A dissertation proposal runs around 75-90 pages and generally forms the first three chapters of the dissertation. It builds upon the prospectus, as indicated below.

See the following templates for more specific details about the contents of the brief outline, prospectus, and proposal assignments.

Assignment 1: Dissertation Outline

Assignment 2: Dissertation Prospectus

Assignment 3: Dissertation Proposal

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Department of Food Science

Ph. d. dissertation prospectus/ outline exam.

  • Details on formatting guidelines are available from the Graduate School.
  • The Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal Exam consists of two parts: a written Dissertation Prospectus/Outline and an oral examination in which you defend your Prospectus/Outline.
  • The format of the written Prospectus/Outline will follow that of the Dissertation. Plan to use “paper format” in which each of your publications is formatted into a chapter, with summarizing introduction/conclusion sections. Include a table of abbreviations. A sample outline follows:
  • The format of the oral exam will be a 20-30 minute presentation of the Prospectus/Outline. Expect to be interrupted with questions. The entire exam should be 1 – 1.5 hrs.
  • The prospectus presentation will be closed, meaning only committee members may attend.
  • Your advisor may help with organizing the presentation outline, but will not thoroughly edit the presentation – the presentation itself is part of the exam.
  • Be able to verbally defend HOW and WHY you did (or plan to do) every aspect of your research.
  • Once the committee is selected by your advisor, the advisor emails the Graduate Program Director (GPD) to appoint the committee.
  • Once your advisor approves your written prospectus/outline, it must be submitted to the committee before the exam (typically 1 week).
  • Student must send reminder about location and date/time of exam a few days before the exam.
  • The timing for the Dissertation Prospectus/Outline Exam varies widely, depending on students’ progress. It is recommended to have at least 1 publication and a significant amount of self-directed laboratory research by the time of the prospectus.
  • The Dissertation Prospectus/Outline Exam should be passed 6 months prior to the Dissertation Exam (although this can be waived if needed by a memo from your advisor to GPD).
  • The Dissertation Prospectus exam committee will consist of your advisor and at least two additional members, one each from within and outside of the Food Science Department.
  • After passing the Prospectus exam, the cover sheet of the prospectus must be signed by all committee members and the department head or graduate program director, and submitted to the graduate school by the candidate.

Updated August 26, 2019

Graduate School Website

For general admission questions, please contact Graduate School on [email protected]

IMAGES

  1. 6+ Dissertation Outline Template

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  2. Research Proposal Sample

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  3. PPT

    dissertation prospectus outline

  4. PPT

    dissertation prospectus outline

  5. 2015 Honors Prospectus Template

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  6. 6+ Dissertation Outline Template

    dissertation prospectus outline

VIDEO

  1. Thesis Writing: Outlining Part III

  2. How To Find Bibliographies on Your Topic in Dissertations and Theses

  3. Preparing a Prospectus and Choosing a Publisher -- Philip Laughlin

  4. AWR001 Academic Writing Part 1 A

  5. The Dissertation Journey

  6. Thesis Writing Seminar

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Dissertation Prospectus (with outline and examples

    Your dissertation prospectus is the first formal document you submit to your dissertation committee outlining your intended study. It is not a long document; usually around 10-20 pages. It should be submitted fairly soon after establishing candidacy. It is wise to discuss your prospectus with your Chair and committee members before writing it.

  2. The Dissertation Prospectus

    Put most simply, the dissertation prospectus should offer a provisional account of (1) what your argument is, (2) why it matters, and (3) what body of evidence you will draw on to substantiate it. ... The body of the prospectus: This should describe your project, outline its potential interest and scholarly significance, and identify your core ...

  3. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    Writing a proposal or prospectus can be a challenge, but we've compiled some examples for you to get your started. Example #1: "Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907" by Maria Lane. Example #2: "Individuals and the State in Late Bronze Age Greece: Messenian Perspectives on Mycenaean Society" by Dimitri Nakassis.

  4. Dissertation Specific: Prospectus

    The dissertation will follow the format of the prospectus template. It is primarily modeled after the professional version of APA 7th edition, but does require minor deviations. Length. The prospectus is generally a minimum of 15 pages, is double-spaced, and includes an extensive reference section. Remember that the prospectus is the initial plan.

  5. What is a dissertation prospectus?

    A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research ...

  6. PDF Prospectus Template

    The dissertation prospectus is a 20-25 page document that gives a road map for the proposed dissertation, arguing for its feasibility and significance to the field. Below you will find a template outlining the elements of a strong prospectus. Please be advised that one of the crucial ingredients of a successful ... V. Chapter outline In this ...

  7. Dissertation Prospectus and Proposal Writing

    The prospectus, or proposal, is the first step of your dissertation. It serves as a plan for your project, an identification of your research goals and method (s), and an articulation of the importance of your work. Alongside its preparation, you will also select members of your committee, who will provide you with important feedback. Beginning ...

  8. Dissertation Prospectus

    A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing. It is not an abstract (which is to say, a summary of a completed dissertation) or an introductory chapter of a dissertation, but rather an attempt to describe what is planned before it has actually been done. ... The outline should be as precise as possible, even if it is very likely ...

  9. PDF Guidelines for the Dissertation Prospectus

    The dissertation prospectus is the formal document you present to your PhD Supervisory Committee once you have achieved candidacy and are preparing to move on to the dissertation as your full-time project. Normally you should plan to make this prospectus available to your committee soon after you are officially designated a candidate for the ...

  10. PDF Microsoft Word

    The dissertation prospectus is a XXX page document that provides a road map for the proposed dissertation, arguing for its feasibility and significance to the field. Below you will find a template outlining the elements of a strong prospectus. Please be advised that one of the crucial ingredients of a successful prospectus is a willingness to ...

  11. Dissertation Prospectus

    The prospectus, either for the M.A. Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation, is a written plan for the research the student intends to complete. At the Ph.D. level, students must defend the prospectus in an oral examination after passing the Ph.D. exams. Goal: To position yourself within an academic conversation and define the methods for your research ...

  12. PDF GUIDELINES FOR PROSPECTUS AND DISSERTATION

    Prospectus Guidelines. Before the end of the spring semester of the third year, the Graduate School requires each student to submit a Dissertation Prospectus, i.e. a written summary of the planned nature and scope of the dissertation research, together with a provisional title for the dissertation. It is strongly recommended that students begin ...

  13. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  14. PDF Humanities Dissertation Prospectus

    A prospectus should be viewed as a preliminary statement of what you propose to do in your dissertation, and not as an unalterable commitment. Its value lies in helping you and your committee get an initial handle on your project. In the Humanities Ph.D. Program, we have chosen to break the writing of the prospectus into 2 blocks:

  15. PDF Guidelines for M.A. Thesis and Ph.D. Dissertation Prospectuses

    The prospectus is a plan of action—not an outline, but a description—that is required of graduate students in English before they are allowed to begin writing a thesis or dissertation. ... a 200- to 400-page dissertation.) Components of a Prospectus Below is an annotated list of the normal components of a prospectus. Not every prospectus ...

  16. Dissertation Prospectus

    In the third year doctoral students prepare a dissertation prospectus and present it at the prospectus conference, which is held yearly during the third week in January.. The conference is a forum in which students share their ideas with faculty and colleagues, and receive suggestions as they begin to research and write their dissertation.. Following the conference, advisors may either approve ...

  17. PDF SUGGESTED DISSERTATION OUTLINE

    This dissertation outline is a modified version of the Doctoral Student Handbook of Graduate School of Education of the George Washington University. Thanks to Dr. Mary Futrell and Dr ... Some may call this a "prospectus" and some may call it a first draft of Chapter 1. Whatever the terminology, the final draft of your Chapter 1 is to ...

  18. PDF Guidelines for Preparing a Dissertation Prospectus

    The prospectus demonstrates the student's potential ability to undertake the research required to complete the dissertation. Students should work with their advisors for more detailed expectations and requirements for the prospectus. THE DOCTORAL DISSERTATION: The doctoral dissertation must be an original and significant contribution to ...

  19. How to Write a Dissertation Prospectus (with outline and examples

    Dissertation Prospectus: Example Outline. While every institution will have different requirements (and you should absolutely look at those before writing your dissertation prospectus), there are a few basics that are common to most of them. Title: This is more of a labor than you might have anticipated. Gone are the days of last-minute essay ...

  20. Dissertation Prospectus and Defense Procedures

    What is the dissertation prospectus, and what is the process for the prospectus defense? Once you have completed coursework, you will begin working on a dissertation prospectus - a document outlining the topic of/questions driving the dissertation, and the research design for answering these questions. These documents vary in length, form, and scope/detail/; but typically […]

  21. Dissertation Information: Deliverables

    Deliverable 2: A dissertation prospectus, which provides an overview of what the researcher is planning for the proposal. It builds upon the prospectus outline, generally running around 25-40 pages in length, as indicated below. Deliverable 3: A dissertation proposal runs around 75-90 pages and generally forms the first three chapters of the ...

  22. Ph. D. Dissertation Prospectus/ Outline Exam

    The Dissertation Prospectus/Outline Exam should be passed 6 months prior to the Dissertation Exam (although this can be waived if needed by a memo from your advisor to GPD). Notes The Dissertation Prospectus exam committee will consist of your advisor and at least two additional members, one each from within and outside of the Food Science ...

  23. PDF Guidelines for Dissertation Prospectus in Econometrics

    This document contains a set of guidelines that all students entering their third year of the PhD program with an interest in doing research in econometrics should read and be aware of. We divide the guidelines into three sections: (a) Expected Timing of Events, (b) Successful Strategies for a Prospectus, and (c) Final Recommendations.

  24. PDF Health Professions Division Dissertation Guide

    The dissertation proposal is composed of the first three of the five chapters that make up the final dissertation report. The outline for the formal dissertation proposal follows: Front Matter These pages are not numbered . 1. Title Page. 2. Signature Page 3. Abstract 4. Table of Contents 5. List of Tables 6. List of Figures . The Text