The prospectus presents the student's dissertation proposal, including a topic, background, literature review, and proposed methodology. It is prepared under the guidance of a three-person Prospectus Committee for each student. The Committee is appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies considering the student's recommendations. The chair of this Committee then serves as the student's advisor, and usually becomes the student's dissertation advisor.
The prospectus must be approved by the Prospectus Committee. Approval depends on an oral defense of the prospectus before the Committee. The Director of Graduate Studies shall announce the time and place of the defense no less than 5 working days prior to the defense date by sending a written announcement to all faculty and graduate students. Copies of the prospectus must be available to all graduate faculty members at least 10 working days prior to the defense date. The prospectus is presented by the student in a seminar. Immediately following the seminar the committee will have the opportunity to raise questions about the prospectus in a separate session involving only the student and the committee. The prospectus committee may (1) approve the prospectus, (2) require revisions subject to approval or further examination at the discretion of the committee, or (3) find the prospectus and dissertation topic unacceptable. The student and the Director of Graduate Studies will be notified in writing by the chairperson of the student's prospectus committee of the committee's decisions. If the prospectus and dissertation topic are not approved, a second examination may be necessary. Failure to gain approval for the prospectus and dissertation topic in the second examination will result in termination of the student's doctoral program.
Ph.D. students can receive a Master's degree from the Graduate School upon successful defense of a prospectus by completing related paperwork, which is available through the Department's Staff Graduate Coordinator.