A student reaches doctoral candidacy status when he or she completes all academic requirements (including all course work and comprehensive examination) for the Ph.D. program, except for the dissertation. Students who have not completed their coursework or comprehensive examination should refer to themselves as “doctoral students,” not “doctoral candidates.” A doctoral candidate may use the suffix “ABD” (meaning one who has completed “all but dissertation”) as a title (e.g. Richard Starkey, ABD).
Dissertation Proposal Acceptance
The dissertation proposal includes the first three chapters of the dissertation (introduction, review of relevant literature, and research design). When the student completes these chapters and is ready to begin the process of collecting data, the dissertation proposal will be submitted to the members of the student’s dissertation committee. Each member of the committee will review the proposal and recommend any additions or modifications. When the proposal has been completed to the satisfaction of the dissertation committee, the Dissertation Chair submits the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form (See Appendix VI) to the Graduate School and sends the student a notification of acceptance and, if needed, will forward a copy of the proposal to the Institutional Review Board for approval (see Institutional Review Board below). The Dissertation Chair also submits a completed Dissertation Proposal Evaluation Rubric as a formal evaluation of the dissertation proposal and actions required, if any, by the student to proceed to the dissertation phase of the Ph.D. program.
Institutional Review Board
If the student’s dissertation involves collecting data from human subjects, the dissertation proposal must also be approved by the Sullivan University Institutional Review Board (IRB). Dissertation proposals typically submitted to the IRB include studies which involve interviews, direct observations, survey instruments, and similar other methodologies. The mission of the IRB is to insure that the proposed research meets requirements for anonymity, confidentiality and safety of research subjects.
The Ph.D. candidate, in conjunction with the Dissertation Chair, is responsible for the research proposal and submission of the research ethics proposal to the IRB. The Research Ethics Proposal (See Appendix VIII) must be approved by the candidate’s Dissertation Chair and the Program Chair or Program Dean prior to submission to the IRB. Research regarding human subjects must safeguard the rights of to self-determination, informed consent, privacy, fair treatment and protection from discomfort and harm, as well as balance the benefits against the risks of the study.
Writing the Dissertation
Throughout the process of collecting and analyzing the data, writing the results of the data analysis, and writing the summary, implications and suggestions for future research, doctoral candidates should stay in regular contact with the members of their committee. The candidate shares drafts of the data analysis and summary chapters with committee members to receive their feedback. The committee members will provide guidance, advisement, editing and encouragement and are to provide their feedback to candidates in a timely fashion.
Once the dissertation has been written and all modifications have been made to the satisfaction of the committee members, the Dissertation Chair will notify the Dean of the Graduate School that the candidate has been cleared to defend the dissertation and will schedule the candidate’s oral defense of the dissertation. Sullivan University faculty, students, staff and the public may be invited or elect to attend the dissertation defense.
The Dissertation Chair will conduct the defense, which will include a formal presentation by the candidate of the dissertation research, analysis, results and implications, and a forum for questions for the candidate by a panel of scholars. The Dissertation Chair will determine who is allowed to ask questions of the candidate. Once the question and answers are completed, the candidate will be dismissed while the members of the committee discuss and render a judgment on the candidate’s performance. If the candidate is unsuccessful in defending the dissertation, Ph.D. Policies & Procedures Page 30 the committee may schedule a subsequent defense, but is not obligated to do so and may rule that the candidate cannot be awarded the Ph.D. If the candidate successfully passes the defense, committee may require the candidate to make final edits or modifications to the dissertation. Following the dissertation defense, the Dissertation Chair and all committee members must sign the Dissertation Evaluation—Dissertation Decision and Revision Form, and the Dissertation Chair submits the completed form to the Dean of the Graduate School. The dissertation defense results in one of three decisions: (1) accept—no revisions required; (2) accept—minor revisions required; or (3) not accepted—major revisions required.
Acceptance of the Ph.D. Dissertation
Once the dissertation is in final form and all changes required by the committee have been made, the members of the committee will sign the dissertation approval page and the student will be cleared to receive the Ph.D. degree upon the final approval of the Dean of the Graduate School. Once the dissertation approval page is signed by all committee members, the Dissertation Chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School, a candidate may use the title “doctor.” The outcome of the dissertation proposal defense (disposition and conditions) shall be conveyed in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School by the Dissertation Chair and placed in the candidate’s official student file. A photocopy of the dissertation approval page once signed by all aforementioned parties will also be placed in the candidate’s official student file.