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Dissertation Procedures

After completing all other requirements (all preliminary exams and any additional requirements), students are ready to advance to doctoral candidacy. This involves two formal steps: holding a dissertation colloquium and filing for candidacy. The colloquium is normally held during the long semester immediately following completion of all other requirements. Students normally then file for candidacy within the same semester and advance to candidacy the subsequent semester. Before taking either step, students first form a dissertation committee and work in consultation with its members to develop a preliminary research prospectus, which forms the basis for the colloquium. Following the colloquium, students produce a dissertation abstract, as required to file for candidacy. The initial committee and abstract may each be changed later if need arises.

Candidates should continue to work closely with the director and at least one other member of the committee to receive the full benefit of expert advice and criticism. As the dissertation approaches completion, candidates share their work with the full committee and solicit every member’s approval for scheduling an oral defense, which is open to the public. At the conclusion of the defense, the committee decides whether to approve the dissertation. Its approval entitles the candidate to receive the PhD.

Dissertation Committee
The committee, which is formed by the candidate and subject to the approval of the Graduate Advisor, comprises five members (occasionally six), including a director (occasionally two co-directors) who serves as principal supervisor. At least three members of the committee must be on the Classics GSC; at least one member must be from outside the Department, from either another Department or another institution. The committee advises the candidate during the writing of the dissertation, conducts the final oral examination, and determines whether or not to approve the dissertation.

Dissertation Colloquium
The purpose of the colloquium is to provide students an opportunity to receive advice and constructive criticism from the full department at an early stage in their research. Students deliver a preliminary report on their project, to which the full faculty and all graduate students are invited. The basis for this report is a written prospectus (typically 4-6 pages or about 2000 words) outlining the topic, a plan of attack, and essential bibliography. The prospectus must include a provisional title and a list of committee members, and it is made available to the full department prior to the colloquium. Students should work closely with the director and other members of their committee in preparing the prospectus, which must be approved by the director before the colloquium may be scheduled.

Dissertation Progress
Once admitted to candidacy, students must maintain continuous enrollment whether they receive University funding or not. Candidates normally register only for dissertation hours (399, 699 999). Candidates who fail to complete the dissertation within three years of admission to candidacy are reviewed annually by the GSC, as required by the Graduate School. In such cases, the GSC may recommend an extension in candidacy of up to one year, or termination; its recommendations are based on a report from the dissertation committee and are subject to approval by the Graduate Dean.

Dissertation Defense
The defense is an oral examination on the dissertation conducted by the dissertation committee, at least four members of which must be present. It is open to the public and the full department is invited to attend. To schedule a defense, the candidate must submit a final draft of the complete dissertation to the full committee at least four weeks before the intended date; a Request for Final Oral (pdf) signed by all committee members must be submitted to the Graduate Dean at least two weeks before the defense. The defense normally lasts about an hour. At its conclusion, the committee decides whether to approve the dissertation, with or without revisions; its decision must be unanimous, and any dissent is referred to the Graduate Dean. Approval entitles the candidate to the PhD.

Further details may be found in the Graduate Catalogue.

See Guidelines for Dissertation Format (pdf)


September 16, 2011
S.A. White
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