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Original research carried out by a student at the doctoral level is documented by a dissertation. A dissertation is characterized by a clearly stated proposition or hypothesis that is investigated using analysis and synthesis of data or other scholarly evidence. The dissertation must demonstrate mastery of the relevant literature and the ability of the student to independently and successfully address a substantial intellectual problem with concepts and methods that are accepted in the major field of study.

Dissertation Proposal

A dissertation proposal must be approved in advance of the dissertation research by the supervisory committee. The dissertation proposal presents the background, objectives, scope, methods and time lines of the dissertation research. Substantive work done by the student prior to the appointment of the supervisory committee or work represented by credit other than 689 Dissertation Proposal or 693 Dissertation (such as 596 Independent Study and 696 Directed Research) is not acceptable for the dissertation under any conditions.

Registration for Dissertation Credit

A Ph.D. or Ed.D. student must register for at least one (1) credit of 693 Dissertation in any semester or session in which the student is engaged in dissertation activity, including the semester or session of the final oral examination, regardless of the number of 693 Dissertation credits already accumulated by the student. The student cannot undertake the final oral examination unless enough 693 Dissertation credit has been accumulated to meet the degree requirement for such credit. The student is not required to register for 693 Dissertation credit in the semester or session subsequent to the semester or session in which the Graduate College receives the format review copy of the dissertation and the Final Reading Approval pages signed by the chair of the supervisory committee (or designee). The student must submit the format review copy and the signed Final Reading Approval pages to the Graduate College no later than the last day of the final exam week of the semester or session. Failure to meet this deadline will require the student to register for at least one credit of 693 Dissertation in the subsequent semester or session.

Dissertation Grading

All 693 Dissertation credits are graded in-progress (IP) until a final grade of either pass (P) or fail (F) is assigned by the academic unit responsible for the program. A grade of pass (P) is assigned to all 693 credits if the final oral examination is passed, and a grade of fail (F) is assigned to all 693 credits if the student fails the final oral examination.

Final Dissertation Approvals and Procedures

A grade of pass (P) in all 693 credits is not sufficient to satisfy the dissertation requirement for a Ph.D. or Ed.D. degree and does not clear a student for graduation. A dissertation that has been successfully defended by the student at the final oral examination must also:

  1. be granted final reading approval by the major advisor (chair of the supervisory committee)
  2. include an Access Agreement for a Thesis or Dissertation form describing conditions for archiving and publishing the dissertation through ScholarWorks.
  3. include a page that contains the research protocol number and a statement that the protocol has been approved by the appropriate Office of Research Compliance (ORC) committee – Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), or Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). Refer to Responsible conduct of research.
  4. pass the format review of the Graduate College
  5. be approved by the Graduate Dean