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 SPH 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.

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 School of Public Health - Bloomington Records Office, SPH 115.

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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