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You've completed all of your department's courses and requirements, and you've passed your qualifying exams. Congratulations! Now, you are ready for the culmination of your work as a doctoral student: the dissertation. Creating an original piece of scholarly work is exciting, fulfilling, and (occasionally) nerve wracking. You'll find an outline of the nuts and bolts of the dissertation process below. 

Getting Started 

As you begin work on your dissertation, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The dissertation Prospectus section of our Programs and Policies bulletin outlines general guidelines for this important first step, when you decide on your topic and submit it for approval. 
  • The Graduate Writing Lab has graduate-student-specific resources and offers individual consultations, dissertation boot camps, and much more to help you along the way, from drafting your prospectus to submitting the finished product.
  • Remember to submit a Dissertation Progress Report every academic year, so we know how you're doing.
  • If you have already been registered for 12 terms, you might consider moving to Dissertation Completion Status while completing your dissertation. Refer to the Change of Status Form for further details. 
  • Review the Dissertation section of Programs and Policies for the fine print about the dissertation process, reader committees, language requirements, and more.

Remember that your adviser, dissertation committee, and others in your department or program can help you with information and guidance specific to completing a dissertation in your field. Don't be shy about asking questions! 

Finalizing and Submitting Your Dissertation

As you near completion, review the University Registrar's information on Dissertation Progress and Submission. Additionally, review the items below as you prepare to submit. Please note that there are no exceptions to the dissertation submission deadline for each term.

  1. Confirm the exact due date for dissertation submission on the Academic Calendar. Deadlines matter! In general, to be awarded a degree in December, the dissertation must be submitted by early October. To be awarded a degree in May, the dissertation must be submitted in mid-March. All dissertations must be uploaded by 5 p.m. on the due date. 
  2. Consult the Formatting Guide. Double-check to ensure that your title and abstract pages are done correctly.
  3. Notify your program. Check the Academic Calendar for the deadline for notifying your department of your intention to submit your dissertation. Your dissertation readers should be finalized at this time.
  4. Prepare for Commencement.

All dissertations that have been accepted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are deposited in the Manuscripts and Archives section of the Sterling Memorial Library.

Contact Information

If you have questions about submitting your dissertation, the Dissertation Office is ready to help.