After advancement to candidacy, you will select a research committee consisting of no fewer than three members of the AAADS faculty and a representative of the minor field. Where appropriate, you will be encouraged to seek a single reader from outside the university. The committee must be approved by the dean of the Graduate School and will be responsible for directing and evaluating the dissertation.

After passing qualifying examinations, you will submit an approximately 20-page dissertation proposal to your dissertation committee, as well as to the director of graduate studies. The proposal defines the themes and purpose of the dissertation, discusses the available source material, and relates the topic of the dissertation to existing literature in the field. It should also be accompanied by a significant bibliography.

When the director of the research committee has approved the dissertation proposal, you will formally present it in a meeting with the research committee for comment and approval. Once the proposal has been approved, you will begin to research and then to write the dissertation.

The dissertation is the written culmination of your graduate career. In most cases, it will be a critical analysis of a specific set of problems. In special cases, the department may accept a creative dissertation—a novel, a choreographic project, a film production—accompanied by a significant written analysis of the context of the production.

Final examination

Your committee conducts the final examination, the defense of the completed dissertation. This event is open to the university community and the broader public. The dissertation defense will cover topics related to the dissertation and area of specialization. You are responsible for arranging the exam and completing the formal, university-wide procedures required for the degree. You will pass or fail the defense based on the decision of the committee as a whole.

If you fail the final examination, you will be allowed one repeated examination opportunity.