Ph.D. Thesis Proposal


The Ph.D. Thesis Proposal is a written document stating the research question, presenting the hypothesis being tested, reviewing the relevant background literature, summarizing the methodology used, and presenting the research data to date. The proposal is meant to encourage the student to plan the necessary steps for the completion of his/her program, to teach the student to organize a large and diffuse body of literature, and to help identify all potential problems and concerns at an early stage of the student's research.

Students are required to submit a written thesis proposal to their Advisory Committee and, with the approval of this committee, defend the proposal orally in the Candidacy Examination. 

After the thesis proposal is submitted, the Advisory Committee will review it with the student to determine its suitability for presentation and defence in the Candidacy Examination. The Advisory Committee will assess the acceptability of the proposal in terms of content, style and originality of scholarship.


The proposal should be 20-25 pages in length, double-spaced. This page length does not include the bibliography and figures. The proposal must include the following sections:

  • Introduction and Statement of Problem
  • Background Information (relevant literature leading up to your studies) 
  • Rationale for the study, hypothesis, and specific aims 
  • Methods for each specific aim, including the rationale for the choice of methods when alternatives exist, possible problems that may be encountered and their solutions, analysis and interpretation of data, etc. 
  • Summary of results to date (specific items may be included in methods, if preferable)
  • Short conclusion and statement of expected contributions to original knowledge
  • Preliminary bibliography


If the proposal is deemed unsatisfactory, the supervisor must discuss its weaknesses with the student and must incorporate changes that will ameliorate the proposal. The revised proposal must then be re-submitted to the Advisory Committee members. If the proposal is approved by the Committee members, the student's supervisor will then submit a letter to the Chair of the Graduate Committee, with members of the Advisory Committee copied on it, stating their unanimous approval that the student may proceed with the Candidacy Examination.


The Ph.D. proposal must be submitted at least two (2) weeks prior to the Candidacy Exam.


Back to top