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Graduate Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation Proposal

During the Spring of their third year, students take a dissertation workshop to assist in the preparation of their proposals. Generally one member of the senior faculty and one member of the junior faculty conduct the workshop, which usually meets 7 or 8 times during the Spring semester.

            This workshop is a requirement of the Graduate Program; participation is mandatory. If illness or other circumstances make it impossible to attend, students must petition the GEC with a proposal for an alternative schedule or arrangement. The final draft of the Dissertation proposal is to be submitted to the Graduate Executive Committee for approval by the last day of classes of the spring semester. Earlier drafts of this proposal should be discussed thoroughly with the student's dissertation committee and, at the student's discretion, with other professors in the field. The finished proposal, which has been signed on the first page by all members of the dissertation committee, must then be submitted to the GEC for approval. For AY 2017-18, proposals should be handed in to Ann Marie Pitts, who will circulate them to the full GEC, by 5:00 pm on April 25, 2018.

            The GEC can either approve a proposal as it stands, approve it provisionally (requiring the student to make fairly minor modifications or clarifications to be approved by the GEC), or reject it. When the GEC rejects a proposal, it offers detailed and specific suggestions for revision. The student should then work with his or her advisor to carry out these revisions as quickly as possible (late May /early June, and certainly before the end of the summer term). In order to remain in good standing in the English Ph.D. program, all students must have received GEC approval on dissertation proposals by the beginning of Fall term of the fourth year. 

            The length limit for proposals is 2500 to 3000 words, plus bibliography. The proposal ought to set forth, as clearly and concisely as possible, some or all of the following: 

1.     Any background information pertinent to the subject;

2.     A close exposition of the subject and its merits within the field of study;

3.     Some notice of previous scholarship pertinent to the subject;

4.     The proposed method of organizing the subject and a tentative indication of the table of contents;

5.     Any special research needs or problems encountered;

6.     A short, selective bibliography.

If the subject is inter-disciplinary, the student should describe his or her proficiency in the related discipline(s).