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Our Strength: Our Program

The dissertation is a PhD student's final step in completing the doctoral program. A cumultation of course work and research, the dissertation is a student's original contribution to their field of study.

Successful passing of the Comprehensive Exam signals that the students are ready to enter the thesis research portion of their studies. Students are expected to identify the research topic and the potential advisor during the first term of the academic year following the passing of the Comprehensive Exam, typically the third year of studies. Initial results should be obtained during the second term and the summer. Students are strongly encouraged to submit a paper for publication early in their fourth year since one or more publications in high-quality journals greatly improves the chances of success on the academic job market.

During the fourth year of studies, students are expected to prepare and present a dissertation proposal. This document typically takes the form of a ‘mini-thesis’ – containing all chapters you intend to have in the final thesis, the initial results in each chapter and a description of the additional results needed to complete the thesis. The supervisory committee (consisting of your academic advisor and at least two additional faculty members) will provide written feedback on your proposal, outlining the steps necessary to complete your thesis research. Thesis completion and defence are expected to take place in the fourth or fifth year of studies.

Additional information about the policies and guidelines related to thesis supervision, thesis preparation and thesis defence can be found on the website of the School of Graduate Studies at