Forming Dissertation Committee
After completing the comprehensive exam and advancing to candidacy, the student must form a dissertation committee, in accordance with the Rackham Graduate School’s “Guidelines for Dissertation Committee Service”
Within two weeks from advancing to candidacy, the student must send an email to the URP Director of Doctoral Studies, with a pdf attachment of a completed “Dissertation Committee Worksheet for Students to submit to Program”, which can be obtained from the link above. The Director of Doctoral Studies will then submit the formal request to the Rackham Graduate School.
The student must formally obtain approval of the dissertation proposal as outlined in the URP PhD Program Overview Schedule and Policies document. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the initial review hearing attended by both the rotating dissertation proposal committee and the dissertation committee, and to schedule the proposal defense attended by the dissertation committee, both in a timely manner. The student must notify Lisa Hauser by email of the proposal defense date at least three weeks prior to the meeting, including the location of the defense meeting, a title, and an abstract. After gaining approval from the dissertation committee, the dissertation chair must send an email to the Director of Doctoral Studies that includes (a) the date of the proposal defense, (b) a list of all committee members present at the defense, (c) a title of the proposal, (d) an abstract of the proposal (250 – 350 words), and (e) a copy of the final dissertation proposal to be filed with URP records. Receipt of the email from the dissertation chair will constitute formal approval of the proposal by the committee and readiness to proceed with dissertation work.
The dissertation is prepared in accordance with the Rackham Graduate School’s Doctoral Dissertation Requirements, and as outlined in the URP PhD Program Overview Schedule and Policies document.
The student is responsible for several steps: (a) scheduling and reserving rooms for the URP pre-defense hearing (which ordinarily should occur at least six weeks and no less than three weeks prior to the dissertation defense) and the defense meeting, both in a timely manner; (b) notifying Lisa Hauser by email of the defense date at least three weeks prior to the meeting, including the location of the defense meeting, a title, and an abstract; (c) providing a complete dissertation draft, including an abstract and bibliography, to committee members at least two weeks (longer is advised) before the defense date; and (d) registering for an eight-hour candidacy enrollment (995 Dissertation Research) for the term in which the defense is held.
A dissertation defense typically consists of two parts: the first is a formal, public presentation of the dissertation research, followed by questions and answers from both the dissertation committee and the audience. Defenses are advertised and open to the public, and other students and faculty are frequently in attendance. The second part is a closed session for the candidate and the dissertation committee. During the defense, the student may be asked to reconsider certain aspects of the work and to make changes or corrections in the dissertation. At the end of the session, the chair will discuss the oral defense with other members of the committee and inform the student of the outcome. The duration of a defense can vary, but the candidate should reserve the room for a three-hour period.
Formal approval of the dissertation (e.g., formatting of the final document) and applying for graduation are governed by the Rackham Graduate School.