PhD program guide
- 1 Introduction and Overview of the PhD Program
- 2 Administrative Structure of the PhD Program
- 3 Advising and Student Committees
- 4 General Requirements for the Degree
- 5 Teaching Experience
- 6 PhD Program Conference
- 7 Paper on Area of Dissertation Research
- 8 Comprehensive Exams
- 9 The Dissertation Proposal
- 10 Dissertation
Introduction and Overview of the PhD Program
The PhD is a research-oriented degree, not a professional degree. Our program prepares each student for a career of scholarly activity, including applied research and teaching. Although some graduates do applied research outside of academic institutions, most teach and do research in a university setting. Consequently, our PhD program emphasizes a mastery of theory and existing literature in an area of specialization, research skills necessary to make original contributions, and teaching techniques and experience.
This document describes relevant policies and steps necessary to obtain a PhD at Carolina Planning. It is intended to ensure that everyone is following departmental and UNC guidelines. The document provides an overview of the PhD program, from general requirements to major steps involved in the application and admission processes, formulation of a program of study, doctoral examinations, dissertation, and awarding of the doctorate.
The procedures described below are drawn from Graduate School rules, departmental enabling legislation, precedent, and experience. Official rules and procedures of the Graduate School are contained in the Graduate School Handbook. Every PhD student should review a copy of the current version of the handbook and be familiar with the rules it contains. In instances where the guidelines presented in this document appear to conflict with the Graduate School Handbook, the handbook shall govern.
Assessment of Student Progress
It is the policy of the department to assess the progress of each PhD student regularly. The PhD student’s advisor and the PhD Program Director conduct the review. The review assesses the student’s status with respect to program approval; identification of prospective area of dissertation research, exams and dissertation; teaching experience and performance; research experience and performance; courses completed and performance in them; plans for the near and long range future; and financial aid. The purposes are to familiarize the faculty with the appraisal of each student’s progress in the PhD program, determine his/her potential to contribute to departmental research and teaching programs, and provide guidance to the chair with respect to teaching and research assistantships. Each student meets with his or her advisor at least once during review to receive feedback from the process.
Expectations for Program Duration
A PhD student has eight calendar years from the date of first registration in the Graduate School to complete the doctoral degree. When extenuating circumstances warrant, an extension of the degree time limit may be granted upon petition to the Dean of the Graduate School. The student who comes into the PhD program with only an undergraduate degree should expect to take at least four to six semesters of full time coursework. With a master’s degree, approximately four semesters of coursework are normal. With a very strong prior background, some students may need fewer semesters of coursework. The dissertation normally takes twelve to twenty-four months of intensive full-time effort after completion of coursework and comprehensive exams.
Graduate Student Parental Leave Policy
As per UNC graduate school policy, in addition to being eligible for academic accommodation, master’s and doctoral-level graduate students supported by fellowships, TAs, and/or research assistantships (RAs) will be excused from their regular TA or RA duties for a period of six weeks during which they will continue to receive financial support.
Administrative Structure of the PhD Program
The Program Director is responsible for: (1) seeing that rules and procedures of the program are followed by both faculty and students; (2) advising the department chair concerning PhD student aid, office space, and other administrative matters affecting PhD students; and (3) chairing any task forces needed to review the PhD Program. The Program Director processes PhD applications with assistance from the Student Services Manager and members of the Admissions Committee. The Director determines which applicants meet the academic standards of the department and which member(s) of the faculty want to advise and work with the applicant. Appeals of any administrative action by the Program Director are directed to the Chair of the Department.
The PhD Policy Committee provides a forum for discussion of the PhD Program. The faculty and students appointed to this committee discuss the operation of the program and may make recommendations to the full faculty and department chairperson.
The PhD Admissions Committee is composed of both faculty and matriculated PhD students who have completed their comprehensive exams. All members of the committee are appointed by the Program Director who also chairs the committee. Its mission is to review applications and advise the Department Chairperson of the strongest applicants. The Department Chairperson makes the final determination on program admission.
Advising and Student Committees
For the individual student, most guidance will come from the Faculty Advisor and committee members. The faculty advisor has expertise in the student’s area of specialization and is determined by joint agreement between the individual student and prospective advisor and after consultation with the Director of the PhD program. Changes in advisors are handled similarly. The Program Committee helps formulate and approve the program of study. The Examining Committee administers the student’s comprehensive exams. The Dissertation Committee advises and approves the dissertation. Generally considerable overlap in membership exists among these three committees. The Director of the PhD program will also provide cohort advising. Cohort advising will happen two times per year for first-year students and one time per year for all other students.
General Requirements for the Degree
A minimum of 30 credits must be earned in courses approved for the degree by the department and the Graduate School. In most cases, PhD students are advised to take more than the minimum number of credits, usually 36 or more, depending upon prior background and preparation. A dissertation is also required.
A minimum of four semesters of residency is required overall. At least two semesters of full-time residency equivalency (nine or more hours) must be taken in continuous registration on this campus. That requirement may be filled by two continuous regular semesters of full-time registration (nine or more credit hours) or three semesters of continuous registration of at least six credit hours.
Credit toward the PhD is not allowed for the basic planning theory course, application (problem solving) courses, or basic statistics and quantitative methods courses of the department. Other master’s level courses may be included if deemed relevant by the student’s Program Committee.
Course requirements for planning theory must be met by completing PLAN 805 – Advanced Planning Theory (3 credits) or an approved, equivalent course and the necessary pre-requisites. Other courses and special preparation may be recommended on a case by case basis.
Each student must demonstrate adequate skills in research design and research methods as well as other specific research skills appropriate to the student’s area of specialization. Students will, with the approval of their advisor and program committee, sketch out a cohesive sequence of methods courses aimed at achieving the student’s research goals. These courses can include a variety of approaches, including mixed methods research, statistical analysis, machine learning methods, simulation or spatial analysis techniques, and qualitative methods. It is expected that, for most PhD students, four to seven courses in research methods and design will be needed. Expertise in research design may be met by taking PLAN 800 and at least one other course focused on research design such as PLCY 801, PLCY 802, or another course appropriate to the student’s interests. As a core requirement, the PhD program requires a minimum level of competency in both statistical and qualitative data analysis techniques, this course sequence must contain a minimum of two, PhD-level quantitative courses that provide a solid, intermediate level of knowledge of multivariate statistical analysis. This course sequence must also contain a minimum of one, PhD-level qualitative methods courses.
The combination of research design and methods courses should provide the student with the ability to design and carry out dissertation-level research, to continue making scholarly contributions in his/her chosen field, and to conduct policy analysis. A student is also expected to obtain research experience prior to the dissertation, unless he or she has substantial prior research experience in the judgment of the advisor and program committee.
Each student selects a group of courses forming an area of specialization within the field of planning. Typically, students should expect to take at least 18 credits for the area of specialization. These courses may be from the Department of City and Regional Planning or any other department. The student defines his or her area of specialization in consultation with the Faculty Advisor and Program Committee. The courses must 1) be mutually reinforcing and coherent; 2) assure an expertise in some body of knowledge, methodology, or problem area; and 3) provide the student with adequate skills and knowledge to teach and do original research in the area of specialization, including dissertation research.
The student must also choose to either take a formal minor or develop a second supporting area of specialization. If the student elects a minor, he or she must complete at least 15 credits in a set of courses approved in advance by the student’s program committee and by the department in which the minor is taken. Normally a minor is taken in one department, but a split minor involving two departments is permitted under Graduate School rules. The PhD Program Director and the appropriate person(s) (e.g. dean, chair, director of graduate studies) in the minor program area must sign a copy of the approved minor course of study and a copy must be sent to the Graduate School to become a permanent part of the student’s record and in the student’s Carolina Planning file.
If the student elects to develop a supporting area of specialization rather than a formal minor, courses may be drawn from more than one department and may include courses in planning. However, it is expected that most of the coursework in a supporting area of specialization will be taken from other departments. The supporting area may be defined in terms of a problem or geographic area relevant to the area of specialization; a social or physical science theory which complements the area of specialization; or a special methodology that is relevant to the area of specialization. The student is expected to demonstrate the supportive, complementary relationship between the two areas of specialization.
The PhD Seminars are 1.5 credit courses designed to address a variety of issues normally not addressed in other courses. The seminars focus on four topics: grant writing, publication, teaching, and careers. The grant writing seminar addresses questions such as how to develop research ideas and how to find research support, and helps students develop their dissertation proposal. The publishing seminar addresses how to publish the results of research. The teaching seminar guides the formation of students’ teaching statements, ability to reflect and evaluate, and classroom techniques and skills. The career seminar explores the different careers that PhD students might pursue with an emphasis on academic careers. These four seminars are taught on a rotating basis over a two-year period. All students are expected to at least three seminars.
An important objective in the department’s PhD program is to train top quality and highly motivated teachers of planning. Teaching is an important part of the PhD program and career development for students entering both academic and non-academic careers. The intent is to provide doctoral students with meaningful teaching experiences, including course planning and content delivery responsibilities.
Lead teaching assignments of undergraduate-level courses are an excellent opportunity for doctoral students to gain teaching experience; however, the department cannot guarantee that all doctoral students will have such an opportunity. Such assignments will be prioritized to senior doctoral students with at least 18 credits of related graduate coursework, those with at least one semester of teaching assistant experience, and those who have not previously taught. All departmental teaching assignments are made at the discretion of the Chair, who will take into account the availability of funding, the suitability of the student’s background for teaching the course, and other relevant departmental considerations.
When doctoral students are leading a course, it is departmental policy that advisors, a committee member, or other faculty member (that reflects the students teaching content and/or style) should sit in on one or more of their lectures in order to provide an informal evaluation of their teaching and course materials. This responsibility should be worked out between the student, committee, and the PhD Director.
Students are encouraged to complete the Center for Faculty Excellence’s Future Faculty Fellows (FFF) program if they are interested in a future career in academia. Deadlines for spring enrollment are often in November. If students are not accepted into the FFF program, they are still encouraged to complete the available teaching seminars at the Center for Faculty Excellence.
PhD Program Conference
Who is involved: PhD Program Director, Faculty Advisor, Program Committee
PhD students begin taking courses before they have a program of study formally approved by a program committee. Students initially rely on their Faculty Advisor and the PhD Program Director for guidance until a Program Committee is formed. The student is expected to formulate a program of study, write a formal program proposal, select a program committee, and arrange a program conference during their first semester in the program. It is highly recommended to do this prior to the pre-registration period for the second semester.
Making a Formal Proposal: The student, with the help of the Faculty Advisor, defines an area of specialization, identifies the appropriate research methodology for that area, and works out the program in detail. This means making up a list of the courses for the area of specialization and the research methods area, including when courses will be taken. Program proposals should include an explicit plan to obtain research and teaching experience, unless otherwise determined by the advisor and program committee. In selecting appropriate courses, the student and advisor should consult with other relevant faculty members within and outside the Department.
Upon agreement by the advisor that the program is ready, the student makes a formal proposal of his or her doctoral program. Standards on the format and content of the proposal are available in Appendix II, “Guide to the Development of a PhD Program Statement.”
Selecting a Program Committee: A PhD Program Committee consists of at least three members of the faculty to be selected by the student, no more than one of whom can be from outside the department. The PhD student shall select a chair, typically the student’s principal Faculty Advisor, who must be a full-time faculty member of the Department. The PhD Program Director may sit as a regular member or as an ex officio member of any program committee. In cases where a student takes a formal minor, the minor department may elect to participate in the program conference through a representative who will advise on the minor area program. Acceptance by a faculty member of membership on the committee does not in any way prejudge the outcome of the program conference.
The Program Conference: The final step in the program approval process is the formal program conference. This conference is not an examination. It is a discussion of the adequacy and the suitability of the student’s program to satisfy the student’s interests and meet the requirements of the PhD degree. Three possible outcomes of a program conference are: (1) acceptance of the student’s program as presented, (2) acceptance of the student’s program as amended at the conference; or (3) rejection of the student’s program with or without recommendations for change. Typically, changes are made to the program during the conference, with the committee’s consent.
The program committee is expected to judge the proposed program on three general grounds: (1) Is the proposal sound, in that if carried out there would be a high probability that the student has mastered his or her chosen area of specialization and the appropriate research methodology? (2) In the opinion of the committee, is the student qualified to complete the program with distinction? (3) Are there sufficient departmental and university resources in the student’s area of specialization and supporting area?
The committee may specify key concepts that it regards as part of the student’s area of specialization and for which the student will be responsible at the time of exams, whether or not those concepts are part of the student’s formal coursework. The committee may also develop a list of important books and articles in the area of specialization for which the student is responsible. That list of concepts and literature may be refined and extended as the student proceeds through his or her program and approaches exams.
When the student’s program is accepted, the student should file a copy of the program proposal and the approval form – Report of a PhD Program Conference – with the Student Services Manager. The student should try to have a program of study formally approved prior to pre-registration for the second semester of residency, but certainly by the end of the first year of residency. Delay in program approvals almost always results in a delay in completion of coursework and the scheduling of exams.
Program Changes: Changes in the student’s proposed coursework, which are minor in the judgment of the advisor in that they do not significantly affect the definition of the student’s area of specialization or supporting area may be made on the recommendation of the advisor alone.
Changes that the student proposes in the program that in the judgment of the advisor are major, in that they do affect substantially the content or level of his or her program as originally defined in the program conference, must be reviewed and approved by the Program Committee.
In the event of a request for a major program change, the faculty advisor is expected to reconvene the Program Committee for a program review. If at this time, because of the proposed change in the student’s program, it appears that some members of the committee should change, this may be done upon approval by the PhD Program Director.
Any approved major program changes should be reported by the Committee Chair to the PhD Program Director in the form of an amendment to the original program prepared by the student. This should be contained in a revised version of the course list and time schedule previously approved by the committee. The Program Committee Chair must sign the amendment.
Paper on Area of Dissertation Research
Who is involved: Faculty Advisor
Each PhD student must, during the second year of residency, submit a paper to the program committee that scopes out a prospective area of dissertation research and reviews the scholarly literature in this area. It is expected that the work leading to the completed paper will be done as an independent study (PLAN 896) with intensive and frequent discussion with and from the Faculty Advisor. The principal purposes of this paper are: (1) to demonstrate to the faculty the ability to read the pertinent scholarly literature and to be able to identify potentially fruitful contributions to that literature; and (2) to expedite progress on the submission of a formal dissertation proposal.
The paper itself will contain a critical review of the scholarly literature in an area of research and indicate, based on that review, one or more research questions that potentially represent contributions or gaps to be filled. The advisor should help the student identify and secure pertinent working papers from professional colleagues if needed to examine the current relevant work. Discussion of the appropriate research methods and necessary data should also be included in the paper. Students are responsible for copying and distributing copies of the paper to members of the program committee.
The Faculty Advisor decides whether or not to approve the paper and notifies the PhD Program Director of the outcome using the appropriate form.
Who is involved: Faculty Advisor, Comprehensive Exam Committee
PhD students with an approved program of study are expected to complete coursework and take comprehensive examinations. To take the comprehensive examinations, the student must secure consent of his or her Faculty Advisor and the PhD Program Director. He or she must also have fulfilled all required coursework and the minimum residency requirement by the end of the semester in which the examination is scheduled. Exemptions from this requirement will be considered by the PhD Program Director only under unusual circumstances.
Comprehensive doctoral exams consist of two parts: a written examination on required coursework in planning theory, research design and methods, and area of specialization; and an oral exam taken upon successful completion of the written examination. The written exam is intended to assess students’ knowledge of the material covered in his or her coursework as well as the application of that knowledge. The inclusion of substantial amounts of material not covered in coursework is discouraged. This exam should not be focused only on the student’s possible dissertation topic, but rather test general knowledge in their areas of interest. The oral exam is a forum for the student to further demonstrate synthetic knowledge of specified subject matters and demonstrate readiness for an independent research project.
Written Exam Topics and Questions: The Comprehensive Exam Committee is responsible for determining the topics covered in the Comprehensive Exams. The Comprehensive Exams cover planning theory (4 hours), research design and methods (4 hourseach), and two areas of specialization (6 hours each). The content of the Comprehensive Exams shall be designed to reflect the research and teaching interests of each doctoral student. The student’s Faculty Advisor will consult with faculty members writing the exams. Following the content guidelines, the student will draft the Comprehensive Examinations Memorandum (CEM), and the examining group will develop the questions for the doctoral student that reflect appropriate detail, depth and sophistication of the material covered.
The PhD Program Director may review Comprehensive Exam questions and propose revisions to the Faculty Advisor. The Director’s primary concern is to insure that the questions fairly reflect the topics covered in coursework required of all doctoral students. In making this determination the Director may consult with the instructors teaching required doctoral courses.
The student may also discuss and clarify the scope and content with individual committee members. This should be done reasonably early in the period used by the student to prepare for exams. A student is not expected to take off a semester to prepare for comprehensive exams, but generally it is wise to plan to take a reduced course load during the semester in which exams are scheduled or to set aside at least part of a summer to prepare.
Exams may be either open-book or closed-book, or a combination of the two, at the discretion of the committee. The student will be informed in advance if any part of the exam will be closed book.
Comprehensive Examinations Memorandum (CEM): The CEM is a requirement for the examinations. It will be written by the student, reviewed by each committee member and, once agreed upon, signed by the Committee Chair. Students should schedule meetings with individual committee members to discuss the proposed reading list and discuss expectations in advance of the final submission of the comprehensive exam memo. Students are expected to submit their final comprehensive exam memo to their advisors by the Monday following the mid-term break of their final semester of coursework. Normally, this is the Monday after spring break.
The purpose of this memo is to foster an agreement between the student and the committee regarding the scope and details of the exam. To that end, the memo will indicate examination dates, time limits for each question, editing schedules, and any other issue the student and faculty may deem necessary. Attached to the memo will be final versions of the reading lists which will have been previously agreed upon by the student and the committee. The Committee Chair is responsible for the implementation of the contents of the memo.
Comprehensive Examination Committee: The student’s Faculty Advisor in consultation with the PhD Program Director appoints the Comprehensive Examination Committee. The Faculty Advisor is normally the chair of the Examining Committee. PhD Examining Committees shall be composed of no fewer than five persons. A majority must be full members of the UNC-CH Graduate Faculty. The committee, upon approval of the Graduate School, may have one or more members from outside UNC at Chapel Hill. At least three members of the committee, including the chair, shall hold appointments in the Department of City and Regional Planning.
Scheduling Exams: Students are required to complete their Comprehensive Exams no later than five months after substantially completing course work. Normally this would mean the exams should be completed by September 30 of the student’s third year in the program. Students will take their Comprehensive Exams within a twelve (12) day period, usually between Monday of the first week and Friday of the second week.
Written Exams: The written examination assesses the student’s competence in planning theory, research design and methods, and the area of specialization. More specifically, the written exam is designed to test the following:
1. Key knowledge in the area of specialization.
2. If there is a formal minor, key knowledge in the minor area.
3. Ability to combine and apply knowledge and concepts from areas related to the area of specialization, and to extract the relevance of social science theory and research findings for planning and public policy issues in the area of specialization.
4. Knowledge of research design, statistics and other appropriate research methods, and an ability to apply that knowledge. For example, a question may ask for a critical assessment of a given design or may describe a research or policy analysis problem and ask the student to outline a research design.
5. Ability to critique methods, including statistical and other analytical methods in a research proposal, scholarly paper, or policy analysis.
6. Knowledge of planning theory and ability to apply planning theory to the area of specialization, which might include a question on justification for public intervention or a question on ways for gaining and validating knowledge.
In the written exam, the committee is looking for answers that are argued logically, show knowledge of the literature in the area of concentration, indicate a sound grasp of fundamental concepts, and demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge creatively and validly to particular questions. The answers to the questions posed should be written during the exam period. The use of large blocks of pre-prepared text is not allowed unless this is specifically authorized by the committee chair. See Appendix III for more details on the written exam process.
Review of Written Exams: As in the case of program conference materials, each PhD student is responsible for reproducing one copy of each exam for each committee member plus one copy for his or her student file. The Examination Committee shall evaluate the written examination as soon as possible after completion of the exams. Written evaluations of the exam should be prepared by each committee member and submitted to the committee chair who will share them with the student at least one week before the oral defense. The committee must determine whether or not the student has performed sufficiently well in the written examinations to pass. When exams are taken during the academic year, students should expect to be notified about their Comprehensive Exam performance within one month of finishing them.
If the committee feels that the student has not achieved satisfactory performance in full or in part, the committee chair will notify the student and the Graduate School that parts or all of the written exams were not satisfactorily completed. In this case, the Examining Committee may require the student to retake all or part of the written exams, take further coursework, or submit additional materials as it deems appropriate. Students who do not pass all or part of the exams must retake them within one year, but not before three months have elapsed from the date that the last exam was completed. Additional provisions for re-examination can be found in the Graduate School Handbook.
Oral Exams: Students passing the written exams may proceed to an oral exam. The oral exam is primarily a forum where the student can demonstrate her/his knowledge of the intended area of dissertation research and specialization. The examining committee can also use the oral exam to ask for further clarification on questions answered in the written exams, probe for greater knowledge in areas where answers were adequate but not exemplary, or ask basic questions on marginal written answers. Information regarding the structure the oral exam including criteria for evaluation is included in Appendix IV – Guidelines for Conducting of Oral Examinations.
Examination Committee Voting Procedures: In order to pass written or oral examinations, approval of at least two-thirds of the members of the examining committee is required. It should be emphasized that each question on the written exams is judged independently of the others and that a student may pass one or several parts of the written exams and fail others. In the event of failure, only those parts that the student failed must be retaken after three months have elapsed. A student who fails a doctoral written or oral exam for the second time becomes ineligible for further graduate work.
In examinations for students with a formal minor, the student shall be examined on the minor in the written exam. Students with formal minors may constitute examination committees composed of six or more members to include the minor department representative.
Report of Examination Results: Upon completion of the written and oral examinations, students should ensure that the Doctoral Exam Report is signed by the committee chair and filed with the Student Services Manager.
The Dissertation Proposal
Who is involved: Dissertation Advisor, Dissertation Committee
A dissertation involves the conceptualization, implementation and presentation of a major research project. It should demonstrate the student’s ability to make significant contributions to the literature on his or her topic of interest. It should also demonstrate the student’s methodological sophistication and their ability to clearly present their project both orally and through the written word.
There are two acceptable dissertation formats: the monograph or the three paper option. A monograph format is the traditional dissertation format.
The Monograph Format: This format is a book length document describing the student’s research project. It must introduce the topic to be studied, the more specific research questions to be addressed, and the importance of those questions to theory, policy or practice. It must summarize existing literature on the topic and review relevant social theory. It must present one or more hypotheses to be tested and describes the research design and methods used to address the issue. Finally, it must present a description of the data sources, the data analysis and discusses the implications of the findings for theory, policy and/or practice.
The student, in consultation with the Dissertation Advisor and other faculty as needed, prepares a formal prospectus of the dissertation project. The exact format will be determined in considerable measure by the advice of the advisor, but should include as a minimum these elements: (1) description of the research problem; (2) summary of existing literature on the problem; (3) statement of relevant theoretical base for research on the problem; (4) preliminary statement of hypotheses to be tested; (5) data sources (if the dissertation constitutes an application of scientific method to empirical data); (6) research design and methods; (7) expected results; and (8) a working bibliography of the most important literature.
The Three Paper Option: This dissertation format is optional. The decision to exercise this option is up to the student with advice from his or her advisor and other members of the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee would have to approve the three paper option at the proposal defense stage. If the three paper option is chosen the following rules apply.
1. The three papers need to be substantively related as judged by the student’s dissertation committee.
2. The dissertation proposal must clearly describe the content of the three papers, how they are related to each other, and how they will contribute to the literature on the topic of study. More specifically, the proposal should include:
– A statement of the question or questions to be investigated;
– A short discussion of the importance of that statement including its relevance to theory, policy and/or practice;
– A careful discussion of the methodologies to be employed, data sources and limitations.
– A time schedule for completing the dissertation.
3. The final product submitted for approval must include the three papers, a brief introduction (10-15 pages), a brief conclusion (10-15 pages), and appendices as needed. The brief introduction in the three paper option should introduce the larger topic of the dissertation, discusses how the topics addressed by the three individual papers fit within that larger topic, and address how the three papers are related to one another. The brief conclusion will provide a summary of the findings reported in all three papers and how they contribute to our understanding of the general research topic as well as their implications for policy and/or practice. Appendices should be provided as needed to present additional detail on research methods or other important topics that cannot be included in the confines of the three papers.
4. Each of the three papers has to be deemed publishable in a peer review journal by a majority of committee members and they also need to be satisfied with the introduction, conclusion and appendices provided by the student.
Selecting a Dissertation Advisor: The student selects his or her Dissertation Advisor by mutual agreement of the student and the faculty member. Any full-time faculty member with standing as a member of the Graduate Faculty may serve. The student’s Faculty Advisor is often a logical choice for Dissertation Advisor, but no requirement exists that he or she must be selected. The faculty member electing to serve as Dissertation Advisor is committed to do everything reasonable to see the student through the dissertation project.
Selection of Dissertation Committee: The dissertation committee shall consist of at least five persons. Faculty members from another department or scholars from outside the university may be invited to serve on the committee. At least three members of the Committee must be Faculty in the Department. If the dissertation involves the formal minor field, one of the committee members must come from the minor field. Nomination of the appropriate person is reserved to that department. If a committee consists of more than five, the majority must hold appointments in the Department (and be full members of the Graduate Faculty). Hence, for committees of six, four must be Departmental faculty.
The student and dissertation advisor propose the committee and obtain agreements from members to serve; the Dean of the Graduate School must approve the dissertation committee. The student and his or her Faculty Advisor are responsible for preparing the necessary form, submitting the form to the PhD Program Director for their approval, who, with the student services manager, will forward it to the Graduate School, requesting the Dean’s approval. See Appendix V for a copy of this form.
The Dissertation Committee’s job includes: examining and giving formal approval to the dissertation proposal, consulting with the student in the research and writing, providing timely feedback on chapter drafts, evaluating the results, and participating in the final oral examination.
The Dissertation Proposal: The dissertation proposal should not exceed 15 single spaced pages (not including the project summary and references) with a minimum of 11 point type and one inch margins. It should follow the following format.
· Project summary
· Statement of the research problem
· Discussion of literature particularly relevant to the problem
· Conceptual framework
· Research questions/ hypotheses
· Research Methodology
· Design and measurement
· Data collection
· Data analysis
· Anticipated results and their importance
· Work plan
Approval of Proposal: The Dissertation Advisor convenes a meeting of the Dissertation Committee to review the formal proposal. The student may be asked to make a presentation of the proposal. The Committee raises and discusses major issues at the meeting. The Committee may approve the proposal at the meeting or request that the student make revisions. The Committee may reconvene to consider the revised proposal, but usually each member can communicate directly with the Dissertation Advisor. Following any requested adjustments to the proposal, the Dissertation Committee grants formal approval of the dissertation project. At this point, “Report of Doctoral Committee Composition and Report of the Approved Dissertation Project” and an attached copy of the approved proposal are filed by the student with the Student Services Manager for placement in the student’s file and forwarded to the Graduate School.
A doctoral student applies to the Graduate School for formal admission to candidacy after he or she has passed both the written and oral examinations, has the dissertation project formally approved, and has completed all coursework required for the PhD The department’s Student Services Manager has the necessary form – Application for Admission to Candidacy for a Doctoral Degree. The student and his or her Faculty Advisor are responsible for preparing the necessary form, submitting the form to the PhD Program Director for approval, who, with the student services manager, will forward it to the Graduate School requesting the Dean’s approval.
Who is involved: Dissertation Advisor, Dissertation Committee
The Dissertation Advisor and Dissertation Committee provide primary guidance while the student is working on the dissertation. During this process the student should approach faculty members for help in securing job interviews. PhD students should continue to work with department staff on career placement through the duration of their degree and in the months immediately following graduation as appropriate.
Dissertation Preparation and Feedback from Committee Members: Each doctoral student is expected to consult with members of the Dissertation Committee at frequently throughout the progress of his or her research and should submit a progress report to each member of the committee at least once a year. The Dissertation Advisor and student jointly will decide whether draft chapters should be distributed to other committee members as they are written or to wait to distribute a complete draft. In any case, it is expected that the Advisor and Committee members give timely feedback to the doctoral student so that progress is maintained. As a general rule, feedback received within one month is considered timely. When extenuating circumstances prevent this, the Advisor or Committee Members should inform the doctoral student as early as possible that there will be delays. In extreme cases when the student feels that he or she is not receiving timely feedback, the student should inform the PhD Program Director.
Final Oral Defense of Dissertation: The final oral defense of the dissertation shall be held only after all members of the Committee have had adequate opportunity to review a draft of the doctoral dissertation, which the candidate is prepared to submit for final editing. The Dissertation Advisor is responsible to members of the Committee for determining that the draft is in an appropriate form for their evaluation. The final oral defense of the dissertation may include questions that relate the dissertation to the field of planning. It is conducted by the Dissertation Committee but is open to the students and faculty of the department and faculty from other departments. Students must be registered in the semester in which they defend and submit their dissertations. Notice of the exam must be posted in the Department three working days before the exam is to be held and a copy of the dissertation made available to any faculty that requests it.
After the oral defense, the committee evaluates the student’s overall performance, informs the student of its judgment, signs the dissertation if it is acceptable and completes the form, “Doctoral Exam Report Form.” Students should ensure that upon successful defense, the Doctoral Exam Report Form is signed by committee members and filed with the Student Services Manager. At least two-thirds assenting vote of the Committee is required to pass. The student and his or her Faculty Advisor are responsible for preparing the necessary form, submitting the form to the PhD Program Director for their approval, who, with the student services manager, will forward it to the Graduate School requesting the Dean’s approval.
After successful defense of the dissertation and before the application deadline for the next commencement, the student files Application for Graduation with the Graduate School, pays final fees, deposits the dissertation in the Graduate School, and is finished.