Graduate Dissertation


G2 (Second Year) Candidacy Examination

Qualification for the dissertation research project begins with the Candidacy Examination in the G2 year. Each student, in consultation with his or her advisor, elects an Examination Committee of three faculty members who administer the exam–a brief oral presentation and defense of the student’s dissertation research proposal. In addition, the committee may challenge the student on course work, readings, and other required knowledge in his or her field. Students must pass the Candidacy Examination by June 30 of the G2 year in order to meet satisfactory progress requirements. All programmatic pre-candidacy requirements, including all required courses and at least the first of two teaching requirements, must be completed by this time as well.

Dissertation Advisory Committee

By the third year, MCO students begin to report their progress to a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) whose roles include

  • Monitoring students’ progress and ensuring that major objectives and standards for completion of the dissertation are being met
  • Determining when the student may begin writing the dissertation
  • Providing professional advice on all aspects of the dissertation project, from experimental paradigms to project feasibility and time management, to the scientific impact of the work
  • Serving as liaison between students and graduate administration as well as providing support during any personal obstacles

Annual meetings with the DAC are mandatory, however the committee may require more frequent meetings depending on the student’s progress, especially toward completion of the dissertation. As with the Candidacy Exam, each student is responsible for forming his or her own Dissertation Advisory Committee.

The Dissertation

When the DAC determines that a student has met the requirements for the Ph.D. and is ready to begin writing his or her dissertation, candidates proceed in close consultation with a faculty advisor. Once a completed dissertation has been submitted to both the advisor and the DAC, each student delivers his or her dissertation defense as a capstone presentation open to the public and followed by questions from faculty, peers, and guests.

View Recent Dissertations by MCO Graduates