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In addition to passing a comprehensive exam, students are required to successful conduct original research for their dissertation.  Prior to moving to level 3, students must prepare and defend a dissertation proposal. This involves writing a research proposal in consultation with their dissertation adviser and committee members, presenting the proposal, and obtaining approval from the committee.  At this point, students are advanced to candidacy and moved to level 3 to begin their dissertation research.  Under the supervision of the committee, students conduct their study and write up their dissertation.  The written dissertation is submitted to the dissertation committee and the committee meets with the student for an oral defense of the dissertation.
Before they conduct dissertation research, students must submit an application and obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to conduct research with human subjects.