English Doctorate Dissertation Prospectus

Information and Instructions

Within two weeks of passing the Comprehensive Exam, you should identify and confirm a dissertation mentor. Send an email to your mentor, copying the graduate administrator (GA) and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and asking the mentor to reply to all (GA, DGS, and student), so the department has a record of the mentorship.

Enrollment in the mentor-appropriate Proposal Development is required (one credit) for all semesters up to and including the semester in which the prospectus is approved with the exception of the one semester immediately following the exam. In that semester you may enroll in Proposal Development (ENGL 0950 R01), a non-assigned section of this administrative course. Students are also required to enroll in ENGL 8935: Dissertation Writing Workshop in the semester immediately following comps exams, to support work on the dissertation prospectus.

The dissertation prospectus is normally no longer than 10 double-spaced pages, with an added bibliography of no longer than 5 pages. Students normally submit an approved dissertation prospectus within one semester of passing their comprehensive exams. If the prospectus is not submitted within 6 months of passing the comprehensive exam, the student will be placed on GSAS academic probation. At this point, the student must provide a plan for submission endorsed by his or her advisor.

The prospectus explains the dissertation's subject, positions the project in a critical conversation, offers provisional chapter outlines, and includes a working bibliography. Be sure to address how your dissertation will add to – or change – current critical conversations. Students should expect to consult with their mentor several times during preparation of the prospectus. Sample prospectuses can be viewed here (note, the link is password-protected; please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for the password). Students should keep in mind that the prospectus is a provisional document: dissertations change during the research and writing process.

When completed, please submit your prospectus to your mentor and two committee members, one of whom may be from a department other than English. Whenever possible, you should submit your prospectus between September 1 and April 1 (faculty may be delayed in evaluating prospectuses submitted just before or during the summer recess). Many prospectuses require revision. Students will ordinarily be limited to two prospectus submissions, but individual dissertation committees may increase this number.

When all three members of the committee agree that the prospectus is acceptable, students should email the Graduate Administrator (cc:ing the DGS) with a request to process the Dissertation Title Approval form. Be sure to include the names of committee members as well as the dissertation title in your email. After receiving signatures from all committee members and the department chair, the form is then sent to GSAS. Once GSAS officially approves the prospectus, a letter is sent to you with a copy to the department, and your registration is changed for the semester from Proposal Development to Proposal Acceptance (3 credits). GSAS also registers you for your first semester of Dissertation Direction (ENGL 9999 R100 (DD) (1 credit)) and a one-time registration for Dissertation Mentoring (ENGL 0970 (2 credits)). You are then required to register for Dissertation Direction each semester up to and including the one in which your defense is scheduled. The only exceptions are for students who defend in the summer: they must register for Requirement Prep ENGL 0914 (Summer, .5 credit).

For further information about the Dissertation Prospectus, please review the PhD Handbook and Informal Comps Guide and consult the GSAS Policies and Procedures Guidebook.