Dissertation Prospectus and Defense Procedures

What is the dissertation prospectus, and what is the process for the prospectus defense?

Once you have completed coursework, you will begin working on a dissertation prospectus – a document outlining the topic of/questions driving the dissertation, and the research design for answering these questions. These documents vary in length, form, and scope/detail/; but typically they will identify a topic or question that the dissertation will aim to elucidate, an explanation of why the topic/question represents a significant subject of inquiry, and why further work on it is justified or needed, an outline of how you propose to go about investigating this question, why you have adopted the approach and research plan that you have, and a preliminary outline of the structure of the dissertation.

You should work with a committee of faculty members (typically three) to develop ideas for the dissertation, and draft the prospectus. Once you receive approval to do so from all committee members, you should contact the Ph.D. Program Officer to arrange a prospectus defense, which may be held in person or virtually, and lasts for 90 minutes; you must notify the PhD Program Officer of the date of the prospectus defense at least 10 days in advance. Each member of the committee must be present for the defense, Prospectus defenses are typically open to all department faculty and graduate students, and invited guests; but you may request that only department faculty be permitted to attend.

Once the prospectus defense is completed, and after making any revisions required by your committee, you should obtain and complete the Graduate School’s official dissertation proposal form. This form should include a clear, succinct statement of the problem, related literature, procedure, method of research, primary and secondary sources, as well as an indication of the theoretical contribution the dissertation will make to political science. You should share the form with both your committee chair and the DGS for approval, before it is submitted to the Graduate School.

What is the process for defending and submitting the dissertation?

Before scheduling a dissertation defense, your committee must certify by majority vote that the dissertation is “ready for defense,” by completing and signing “Doctoral Project or Dissertation Reviewers Report.” You and your committee must ensure that this report is signed and submitted to the Graduate School at least one week before the date of the defense.

Once the committee has provided its consent, you should work with the Ph.D. Program Officer to arrange a date, time, and place for the dissertation defense; you must advise the PhD Program Officer of the date of the defense at least two weeks in advance, so that the defense may be announced, and a room can be reserved (if necessary). No form is required for this, but candidates should include the title of their dissertation and the names of their committee members in the email to the PhD Program Officer.

The dissertation defense involves a public presentation, which any member of the academic community may attend and ask questions. It typically begins with a 10-15 minute presentation of your project, followed by a period during which your committee alone may ask you questions. After this, the dissertation chair asks if there are any questions from others in attendance. This public session is followed by a closed meeting of the committee during which it deliberates. The candidate will be considered to have passed the dissertation defense when the committee certifies by majority vote that the defense was successful.

Once the candidate has passed the defense, the dissertation committee completes and signs two forms reporting the results of the defense. These forms are coordinated and signed by different combinations of people, and submitted to different offices. You will be responsible for ensuring the completion of theDissertation Cover Sheet,” which is sent to the DGS for signature and submission to the Graduate School. The DGS or PhD Program Officer is responsible for ensuring that a separate form, the “Thesis/Dissertation Defense Report Form” is completed by the Committee members, and submitted to the University Registrar’s Office – you need not (and are in fact not allowed) to see or submit this form. You are then solely responsible for submitting forms related to the electronic filing of your dissertations.  which can be found here: https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/9e40v4pm9pwjvjarip4355ock2qrak2v