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Research Proposal

After admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, each student, with the aid of his/her Mentor and Dissertation Committee, prepares a prospectus of the dissertation research program.  It should be brief (ten double spaced pages or less), consisting of a description of the research problem, the overall goals and specific aims, a survey of the relevant literature, and a specific outline of the research plan.  The main goal of this effort is to provide an organized plan for completion of the research program, a plan which may, however, be modified as the program progresses and data are obtained.  The prospectus must be completed and approved by the Dissertation Committee by the end of Fall of the third year.

The Dissertation

The student begins work on the written dissertation when the Dissertation/Advisory Committee judges that a sufficient project has been accomplished. The dissertation is the written report of the student's research project; the format and other requirements are outlined by the Graduate College   The doctoral dissertation is the final and most important component of studies towards the doctoral degree.  Three major functions are fulfilled by the dissertation experience:

  1. It is a work of original research that makes a contribution to existing knowledge
  2. It demonstrates the candidate's scholarship and mastery of research methods and tools of the special field
  3. It demonstrates the student's ability to address a significant intellectual problem and to arrive at a successful conclusion

As the student nears completion of the dissertation, and before scheduling the Final Examination, a reading copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Dissertation/Advisory Committee at least two months prior to the scheduling of the Dissertation Defense.

The Final Examination or Dissertation Defense

The Final Examination, or Dissertation Defense, consists of a formal and public seminar in which the student presents his/her research project and answers questions asked by the Dissertation/Advisory Committee and audience. The candidate is responsible for arranging the day, date, time, and place of the Final Examination so that at least a quorum of the (5) committee members can attend.

The Graduate College has specific requirements that a student must fulfill. These can be found on the Graduate College web page.

Each student has a maximum of 60 days after taking the Final Examination in which to submit the following to the Graduate School. If this time expires, another Final Examination must be scheduled.

  • Students may electronically submit their dissertation; if submitting electronically, the student will need to submit two copies of the PDF document on two CD-ROM's or disks and a paper copy of the dissertation signature page containing original signatures of the Advisory Committee or
  • 3 copies of the dissertation on 100% cotton bond paper and with the original signatures of the Advisory Committee.
  • Signed Final Examination Warrant
  • Check to pay for the binding and publishing fees

The Dissertation can be received on the last day of the semester and the student will still graduate that same semester. If the dissertation and report are not submitted on or before the last day of the semester, the student will need to register for the following semester, even if the 60-day period has not expired. In some cases, it may not be necessary to register for a full 9 credits.  A student must be a registered student at the time that the Graduate College receives the degree request and documentation. One bound copy of the thesis should be provided to the Department, and each member of the committee.

Usually, the student will complete their research and defend their dissertation by the end of his/her fifth year in the program. This can be postponed when necessary. Only under exceptional cases, students with outstanding academic and publication records may finish the program earlier.

Masters Degree in Pathology

The Pathology Department does not accept students into a Masters degree program, and a Masters degree is not conferred as a step toward the Ph.D. However, in some cases the Advisory Committee may judge that a student will not be able to complete the Ph.D. program, or that continuing to work toward a Ph.D. is not in the student's best interest. In the event that the Advisory Committee makes this recommendation, they may direct the student to obtain a Masters degree and exit the graduate program.