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Graduate Dissertation


G2 (Second Year) Candidacy Examination

Qualification for the dissertation research project begins with the Candidacy Examination at the beginning of the G2 year. Each student is assigned 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 the end of the G2 fall semester in order to meet satisfactory progress requirements. 

Dissertation Advisory Committee

At the beginning of each graduate year, MCO students are required to report their progress and plans for the following year 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. Each student is responsible for forming their 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 their 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 their dissertation defense as a capstone presentation open to the public and followed by questions from faculty, peers, and guests. To schedule a defense, students are required to have submitted or published at a minimum, one first author manuscript.

View Recent Dissertations by MCO Graduates