When writing the dissertation, students follow the steps below so as to finish their dissertations in a timely fashion and in accordance with the Graduate School's Dissertation Directives.
Students select directors who are knowledgeable in students' chosen fields and who are people with whom students can have a comfortable and productive working relationship. Directors read early drafts of dissertation chapters, determine when chapters are ready to be given to other committee members, and conduct 2-hour oral dissertation defenses, including overseeing completion of required paperwork.
Select Committee Members:
Students, in consultation with directors, set up dissertation committees consisting of the director and two faculty readers. Readers provide feedback on later drafts of dissertation chapters, consult with directors on a dissertation's readiness for defense, and participate in a 2-hour oral dissertation defense.
Submit Dissertation Outline:
The dissertation outline should be written in English 8830 and approved in the DQE. The dissertation outline, which frequently undergoes revision in response to suggestions from the DQE and dissertation committees, should be submitted to the Graduate School no later than a couple months after the DQE has been passed. Although dissertations often diverge from particulars in the dissertation outline, the outline enables students to begin with clear arguments and methods that can serve as a reference for all subsequent efforts on the dissertation.
Consult regularly with Director:
Successful and timely completion of the dissertation within 18-24 months depends on students' sustained work, including remaining in close consultation with directors. At least one formal communication per month is recommended, and more frequent meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges are helpful. In these communications, directors and students discuss students' reading, writing, and general progress. Directors may suggest or require certain avenues of inquiry, set deadlines, and read initial drafts of dissertation chapters. These initial drafts represent students' best current efforts; as such, they are crafted pieces of writing with complete citations, not hastily-composed or casual rough drafts. Directors read the initial drafts in a timely fashion and return them to students with suggestions for revision.
Consult Committee Members:
Directors may seek advice from two readers about initial drafts or wait until initial drafts have been revised. Although readers typically communicate formal responses to students through directors, students should feel free to call on the expertise of the readers at any time.