Dissertation and Prospectus

The Dissertation Director and Committee

Upon completing the area requirements and the language requirement, a student must, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, choose a Director for his or her dissertation, and select a dissertation committee composed of three faculty members.  (The Director is also the chair of the dissertation committee).

The Prospectus Defense

The student should compose a dissertation prospectus and submit it to the committee. When the members of this committee have read the prospectus and discussed it with the student, the Dissertation Director will schedule a defense of the prospectus, in order to determine whether the student's background is sufficient for dealing with the topic. After successfully defending the prospectus, the student advances to Ph.D. candidacy.

The Dissertation

The student will write the dissertation under the direction of his or her Dissertation Director. It is not required that the dissertation consist of a lengthy treatment of a single topic. A small collection of original research papers on a variety of topics, related or disparate, is permissible, provided the work on each is of dissertation quality. The dissertation must not exceed 350 pages.

The Dissertation Defense

When the work is completed and judged by the student and the committee to be an original and significant contribution to philosophy, the student will stand for a final oral defense of the dissertation before his or her committee, a 'fourth reader' appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies, and other interested or invited persons. The defense cannot be scheduled until all members of the committee and the fourth reader have received copies of the final version of the dissertation and have had sufficient time to read it carefully.

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