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Phase III: The Dissertation

The last written requirement before receiving the Ph.D. is the presentation of a suitable dissertation. This may be a critical and scholarly study of a single subject or it may consist of two or more integrally related essays. While there is no prescribed (or proscribed) length, the usual length is 40,000 to 50,000 words.

As examples and guides to conceiving a dissertation, students may consult dissertations previously completed in the Department. These are filed in the Special Collections area of Geisel Library.

Preparing the Prospectus

Before the end of the quarter following the qualifying examination (the tenth quarter, in most cases), the student prepares a dissertation prospectus of 3-5 pages and a supporting bibliography. The student then meets with the committee to discuss the prospectus and bibliography and to plan the subsequent direction of research.

Change in Dissertation Topic

If, after passing the qualifying examination, advancing to candidacy, and presenting a prospectus, the student wishes to change the dissertation topic, s/he must prepare another prospectus and obtain approval for it from the Ph.D. committee. If deemed necessary by a majority of the committee members, the student will defend the new topic at an oral examination conducted by the committee.

Completing and Defending the Dissertation

To complete the dissertation, the student enrolls for 8-12 units of LTXX 299 each quarter, usually under the direction of one of the members of the Ph.D. committee.

Completion of the dissertation should require no more than six academic quarters after advancement to candidacy, since the three years of preparation (two for students who enter the program with M.A. degrees) for the qualifying examination is designed to involve work toward the dissertation in the form of the research paper.

The student is required to present a dissertation defense in the form of a colloquium that, by order of the Graduate Council, is open to the public. The final recommendation regarding award of the Ph.D. degree is to be decided by the Ph.D. committee in a private caucus at the end of the defense. If the committee approves the dissertation, they sign the necessary paperwork and endorse the signature page of the dissertation. (For instructions on preparing the signature page, see Instructions for Preparation and Submission of Doctoral Dissertations and Masters' Thesis, available from OGS).

Filing the Dissertation

In preparing the final draft of the dissertation, the student should follow the guidelines contained in the booklet entitled Preparation and Submission Manual for Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses. It contains examples of the signature page which must be signed by all committee members at the defense. This booklet is available from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Before filing the final draft of the dissertation, students should make an appointment with OGS for a preliminary review of their dissertation manuscript.

The Department reports the outcome of the dissertation defense on the Report of the Final Examination and Filing of the Dissertation for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy form. Following the defense, this form and the dissertation are submitted to OGS.

Then the candidate files the final draft of the dissertation with the University Archivist (Special Collections), who accepts it on behalf of the Graduate Council. Acceptance of the dissertation by the Archivist fulfills the final requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
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