Each Ph.D. student is required to submit to the department a research proposal that has been accepted by his/her supervisor and Supervisory Committee prior to scheduling the comprehensive exam. The comprehensive examination is separate and distinct from the evaluation of the thesis proposal.
Contents and Format
The candidate is expected to review the literature and develop the questions and methodologies to be used in the research carried out for the dissertation requirement of the PhD degree.
- The proposal should not exceed 25 double-spaced pages in length, using a 12 point font size.
- The proposal might spend 5-10 pages on background and 3-4 pages on each of 3-4 projects, discussing research questions and methods.
Different fields tend to follow slightly different formats for their proposals, and students are encouraged to discuss the most effective format with their supervisor.
- The student should discuss the contents of the proposal with his/her supervisor.
- The supervisor should then approve a draft of the proposal before it is sent to the Supervisory Committee. This reading should be done in a timely fashion by the supervisor (within two weeks of receiving the draft). Committee members should be advised ahead of time that the proposal will be given to them on a particular date, so that time conflicts can be addressed.
- The Supervisory Committee should be given hard copies of the proposal and allowed a minimum of two weeks for reading and comments.
- The student and Supervisory Committee should meet to discuss the contents of the proposal and the proposed research. This meeting should be a discussion, not an examination, but the committee must be able to make a decision about whether the proposed thesis is feasible for the student to do. At the end of this meeting, the committee should make a decision (in camera if requested by any member) about whether to approve the proposal. Until the proposal is accepted, the student may not proceed with the Comprehensive Exam. The Comprehensive Exam cannot be officially scheduled until the proposal is approved, although a projected time may be set to be left free in everyone's calendars
- To allow time for preparation for the Comprehensive Exam, the committee meeting to discuss the research proposal should be held no less than two weeks in advance of the Comprehensive Exam. Thus, the Supervisory committee should be given the proposal no less than four weeks prior to the expected date of the Comprehensive Exam. Many proposals require some re-writing before approval, so allowing even more time before the expected Comprehensive Exam date is recommended.