Doctoral program (PhD)

Procedures for Writing the Dissertation

Bruce Lincoln, Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of ReligionsUpon completion of the qualifying examination, the student proceeds to the dissertation. Three formal steps organize this process: the dissertation proposal colloquium and subsequent submission of the proposal to the Committee on Degrees, the midpoint review of dissertation research, and the oral defense of the completed dissertation. Throughout the process, the student is responsible for maintaining good contact with the dissertation committee and providing regular updates on progress.

1. The dissertation proposal colloquium, which takes place following completion of the qualifying examination, is a meeting of the student and the dissertation reading committee (normally three members of the faculty—an adviser from the Divinity School faculty and two readers) to review the dissertation proposal. It should be noted that the dissertation adviser may be someone other than the student's program adviser hitherto. Further details on the dissertation proposal can be found in the "Guidelines of the Committee on Degrees" available in the Dean of Students Office. During the colloquium the student and the committee should discuss their expectations for their work together, including the timing of reading chapters and the format in which work should be submitted (by email or in hard copy).

When the members of the dissertation reading committee approve the proposal, the student submits the proposal in the form of a formal petition to the Committee on Degrees. Approval of this petition establishes the student as a Ph.D. candidate. A student who has not submitted a dissertation proposal to the Committee on Degrees by the end of the fourth year of residence must consult with the Dean and Dean of Students to establish a satisfactory deadline for submission of the proposal.

2. The midpoint oral review of dissertation research occurs at a time determined by the student in consultation with the adviser, usually after the student has written two chapters. It provides an opportunity for the student and the reading committee to discuss the work in progress, both to review what has been written and to discuss what needs to be done to complete the dissertation. The adviser should provide written notification of the successful completion of the oral review to the Dean of Students.

3. Students must submit a complete draft of the dissertation to the committee by the middle (5th week) of the quarter before the quarter in which they expect to graduate. Faculty will return comments to the student by the first day of the next quarter. This will allow the student 5 weeks to complete any necessary revisions and to obtain the committee's final approval before submitting the final copy to the Dissertation Office in time to graduate that quarter. The oral defense of the dissertation is a requirement that may be waived upon the recommendation of the dissertation committee and the approval of the Dean. The Dissertation Office provides guidelines for formatting, and dates of submission of the final dissertation.