Academic Policies & Procedures

Doctoral Students

Dissertation Proposal

A student's research committee must formally approve the student's research project before it begins. To earn official approval, the student must present a research proposal at a public proposal meeting, open to faculty and students in the university community. Dissertation proposal materials are submitted to the chair of the candidate's research committee within a sufficient time frame in advance of the proposal meeting to permit a thorough review. Materials include an introduction to the study, a review of literature, and a description of research procedures to be used.

If the proposed research involves human subjects, animals, biohazards, or radiation, approval from the appropriate institutional review board (IRB) must be obtained prior to the beginning of data collection. Information on the use of human subjects in research may be found at: The dissertation proposal meeting may take place before or after IRB clearance has been obtained.

Complete the following steps to arrange the meeting:

  1. The student and the research committee agree on a date and time for the student's proposal meeting.
  2. Three weeks in advance of the proposed meeting date, the student completes and submits the Application To Schedule a Graduate Student Meeting Form.  This form may be found online at The completed form must be submitted to the administrative secretary for academic affairs in HPER 115. The secretary will reserve a meeting room. Confirmation of the meeting date, time, and location will be communicated to the student and the committee members via email.
  3. The student and the research committee chair create a one-page proposal meeting announcement, containing the date, time, location, and a description of the proposed research project. The secretary has examples of proposal meeting announcements which students may use when formatting their announcements.
  4. At least two weeks in advance of the proposed meeting date, two versions of this announcement must be submitted to the administrative secretary for academic affairs in HPER 115. A printed version with the signature of the committee chair must be submitted.  In addition, an electronic version without the chair’s signature must be attached to an email message and sent to the administrative secretary for academic affairs. The secretary will post the unsigned announcement on the Web.

During the first portion of the meeting, the student formally presents the research proposal in an open forum. Committee members and visitors have the opportunity to ask questions. Visitors leave after the formal presentation. How the remaining time is used is determined by the student's research committee.

It is suggested that at the time of the proposal meeting, publication expectations of the research (including such factors as publication timelines, coauthorship, and ordering of names in publication) be formulated and submitted to the candidate's file. Candidates should be aware that some faculty members may require this form. Guidelines and forms for this agreement are available in the Records Office, HPER 115.

Graduate student meetings may only be held when classes are in session. No such meetings may be scheduled during final examination week or vacation periods.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: How do I make sure I am on the right track with the research project I choose?
Answer: Present your research proposal at a formal thesis proposal meeting. At this meeting, your committee will help you finalize your plans before you move forward.

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