Completion and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation.


The dissertation is a significant work of original scholarship of approximately 200–300 pages (plus complete bibliography) that engages a scholarly tradition and advances knowledge and/or interpretation in the field. The dissertation should be on a topic that is likely to be accepted for publication as a book by a university press. The dissertation is written in close consultation with the dissertation advisor, who will schedule regular meetings with the student and assist in setting goals and deadlines for work on the dissertation. Students are encouraged to pursue funding for dissertation research abroad.

Writing process

Students are expected to meet regularly with the dissertation director (and, as needed, with members of the Ph.D. dissertation committee) and to submit completed chapter drafts for feed-back at regular intervals. The dissertation director will meet with the student and provide substantial feedback on each chapter in a timely manner, as well as on the dissertation as a whole as it progresses, with the expectation that each chapter will be revised at least once before final submission. As a rule, other members of the dissertation committee will only read chapters once they have undergone substantial revision; however, students are encouraged to solicit feedback on their chapters-in-progress from faculty in their areas of specialization.

Students who have made substantial progress on the dissertation may request, in consultation with their dissertation advisor, a meeting of the entire dissertation committee, to be conducted on the model of a dissertation defense with the goal of assessing the work to date and jointly defining the best path to successful completion of the dissertation.


The Ph.D. final examination consists of the public defense of the completed dissertation. Students are responsible for scheduling the defense with Graduate Services, and in consultation with all members of the committee. The dissertation, as approved by the dissertation advisor, must be made available to each member of the Ph.D. committee at least four weeks before the final examination is to take place. The final version of the dissertation, incorporating any changes deemed necessary by the committee, must conform to all requirements of the Graduate College.