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Ph.D. Prospectus Guidelines

The dissertation prospectus is prepared following satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examinations. The purpose of the prospectus is to assure the candidate and the Advisory Committee that the contemplated dissertation is a sound and feasible project.

  1. The prospectus should be addressed to readers with a general rather than specific knowledge of the field of the dissertation (such as semantics, phonology, second language acquisition), comparable to an application for a fellowship or research grant. The committee may wish to consult others, inside or outside the department, in determining the soundness and feasibility of a proposed dissertation.

  2. The prospectus should include:
    • A statement of the problem to be investigated. The prospectus should specify the questions to be investigated and typically will propose a hypothesis or set of hypotheses to be examined. The prospectus should convince readers that the dissertation may be expected to make a significant contribution to scholarship, and that the goals of the dissertation are not too extensive or too vaguely defined to be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
    • A summary of relevant previous research and scholarship on the topic, showing that the hypothesis or hypotheses have not yet received satisfactory treatment.
    • A presentation of the theoretical foundations, sources of data, and methods of analysis to be employed.
    • A statement of the nature of expected conclusions and their significance.
    • A bibliography.
    • A proposed title and a preliminary outline of the expected organization of the dissertation.

  3. The prospectus should be formatted according to accepted standards for work in linguistics (e.g., the LSA Style Sheet). Exclusive of bibliography, the prospectus would normally be from ten to fifteen pages in length (up to 5,000 words). Your major professor should approve a draft of the prospectus before it is submitted to the other members of your advisory committee. After the formal submission of the prospectus, the committee may take up to two weeks (during the regular academic year) to decide whether to (1) accept it as submitted, (2) accept it subject to specified revisions, or (3) reject it. After the student's committee accepts the prospectus for submission, one final copy should be submitted to the Linguistics Department Head for approval. The prospectus will be added to the student's file after this point.

  4. These guidelines are offered as a statement of general policy. In particular cases a committee may, in consultation with the candidate, change and/or add to them.

Updated: 7/27/2017

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