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Once you have fulfilled all your program's course requirements, there are only two more steps to take before you begin to work on your dissertation: a qualifying examination and a prospectus.
Every program administers an intensive examination before admitting a graduate student to candidacy for the Ph.D. Depending on the program, the exam may be written and/or oral; it may last for a couple of hours or extend over more than one day. You might take it alone or with other students in your cohort. Whatever the format, you will be asked to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the material in your discipline.
A prospectus is usually the first step in the process of writing your dissertation. The form and content will vary by discipline. In most cases, however, a prospectus will contain the following information:
Please review the Programs & Policies handbook for more information about Graduate School policy on the Prospectus.
Consult with advisers and mentors in your program and with other graduate students. You are not alone! Additionally, you can seek help with Prospectus Writing through the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.
Once you have satisfactorily completed your qualifying examinations and received approval for your prospectus, you are eligible to be admitted to candidacy.
Congratulations! You are now prepared to do the original and independent research that will become your doctoral dissertation.
Admission to candidacy normally takes place by the end of the third year of study. Training in teaching can occur both before and after being admitted to candidacy.
After you are admitted to candidacy, you will have 30 days to complete your initial Dissertation Progress Report (DPR). For your initial report, you will state your future research plan (from the time you advanced to candidacy to April 1). On April 1, you will complete your first full Dissertation Progress Report, indicating the current status of the research plan you submitted and your research plan for the following year.
Be sure to review the Programs & Policies handbook for more information about policies related to Admission to Candidacy.