Prospectus and Dissertation
The prospectus is a proposal for dissertation research written under the supervision of a member of the doctoral faculty who is willing to sponsor it. All committee members must be from within the CUNY system, unless approved by the Executive Officer; at least three must be on the Philosophy Program doctoral faculty. The prospectus examination should be taken by the end of the second semester following advancement to candidacy for the student to maintain satisfactory progress.
The student will consult with a faculty member about sponsoring a dissertation project. When there is mutual agreement about the project the faculty member will notify the Executive Officer.
The prospectus is an essay approximately twenty to forty pages in length (plus a bibliography) that explains the nature and significance of the issues or topics the student is investigating and formulates his or her approach, method, and tentative conclusions for the dissertation.
Setting Up the Prospectus Examination
An oral examination is scheduled to test the proposal and the student’s capacity to undertake it. Once the Sponsor believes that the prospectus is ready for examination, he or she, in consultation with the student, will submit to the Executive Officer for approval the names of four appropriate and willing faculty members to serve on the examination committee.
The Sponsor (not the student) will arrange the date and time with the committee and then notify the Assistant Program Officer who will arrange a room. The Assistant Program Officer will notify the student and the committee regarding these arrangements. The prospectus must be circulated at least one week prior to the examination.
Prior to the examination, the Assistant Program Officer will appoint the Chair of the Prospectus Examination (a member of the examination committee who is not the Sponsor) and present the Chair with a form that needs to be signed only by the Chairperson and then returned to the Assistant Program Officer.
Outcomes of the Prospectus Examination
The prospectus examination can have any one of three outcomes. (1) The student can pass, in which case, the dissertation research is approved subject to such restrictions and recommendations as the committee may require. (2) The student may pass conditionally, in which case he or she must satisfy certain conditions before the proposal is approved. (3) The student may fail. In the case of failure, the committee may also decide whether or not the student may submit a new prospectus on the same topic.
Foreign Language and Research Techniques
While the Philosophy Program has no general language requirement, the prospectus examination committee will determine whether a student’s proposed dissertation topic will require that the student be able to read material in a foreign language. It will set any requirements that need to be satisfied for the approval of the dissertation.
The Dissertation Committee
The student and Supervisor must contact the Executive Officer within two weeks of having passed the prospectus examination to discuss the formation of the three-person dissertation committee. The Supervisor, in consultation with the student, will submit to the Executive Officer for approval the names of two appropriate and willing faculty members to serve on the three-person committee. All committee members must be on the CUNY doctoral faculty except under special individual circumstances.
Once the three-person dissertation committee has been appointed, the Executive Officer will notify the Assistant Program Officer of the names of the committee. A form letter stating the responsibilities of being a committee member will be sent to each member for signature and then returned to the Assistant Program Officer. It is part of the responsibility of the entire Supervisory Committee to monitor the progress of the student. Both the Supervisor and the student should be sure that completed chapters or sections of the thesis are regularly submitted to the other two members of the committee so they may comment on them (if necessary or desirable) and be kept abreast of the student's progress.
The usual dissertation is constructed like a monograph or book, treating an approved topic in some depth. The student may alternatively opt for a dissertation composed of three substantial essays on approved topics specifically constructed for the dissertation. The candidate’s committee will determine the nature of the connection among the essays.
When the three-person committee is satisfied that the dissertation is ready for defense, each member emails the Assistant Program Officer to register his/her approval. The Supervisor recommends to the Executive Officer two additional appropriate and willing faculty members to serve as readers to be added to the three-person committee. The dissertation must be given to these two additional faculty members at least four weeks prior to the exam date. All committee members must be from within the CUNY system except under special individual circumstances.
If a student must change or replace any committee member, including the Supervisor, the student should speak with the Executive Officer and the Assistant Program Officer as soon as possible.
When the student is ready to take the defense examination, the Supervisor (not the student) will arrange the date and time with the committee and then notify the Assistant Program Officer who will reserve a room. The Assistant Program Officer will notify the student and the committee regarding these arrangements.
The candidate must defend the dissertation before the dissertation committee in a public oral examination. The grade of the oral examination is decided by a majority of the committee, subject to the condition that at least one of the additional readers must belong to the majority. The grades are: Pass, Pass with minor revisions, Pass with major revisions, Fail. The committee may designate an outstanding performance with a special grade of Pass with Honors on the dissertation and/or the defense. In this case, the Chair of the committee will write a letter to this effect and it will be put in the student’s file.
The Assistant Program Officer will appoint the Chair of the defense and present the Chair with a form that needs to be signed by all members of the defense committee and returned to the Assistant Program Officer.
Before filing the dissertation defense with the Mina Rees Library, the student must file a Dissertation Proposal Clearance: Human Participants Form with the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs. Important: This requirement includes students from all programs, whether or not their research involves human participants. Forms and instructions may be found in the Philosophy Program Student Lounge or obtained online. A student will not be able to deposit their dissertation unless this form is on file in the Registrar’s Office.
The student must obtain the rules and requirements for dissertation deposit from the Dissertation Librarian in the Mina Rees Library.