Upon successfully passing the Second Examination, the student advances to Level Three or candidacy for the Ph.D. in Social Welfare. The Examination Committee informs the Administrative Program Officer (APO) that the student has passed, and the APO reports the change of status to the Registrar’s Office. The student will receive notice of eligibility for the M.Phil. Degree. The Examination Committee directs the student to begin the process of identifying a dissertation chair and committee members.

The dissertation committee is comprised of a chair and two committee members; all must be members of the Social Welfare Doctoral faculty. The APO maintains a current list of doctoral faculty members and their contact information. Current faculty members are listed on the program website and at the beginning of this Handbook. A student or dissertation chair may request a faculty member from within CUNY to serve as a full member of the dissertation committee. That faculty member must agree to serve on the Social Welfare doctoral faculty for the purpose of sitting as a full member of the student’s dissertation committee. The Executive Committee votes on the appointment, and the Graduate Center must approve the appointment. In addition, in consultation with the dissertation chair, the student may request a fourth member who is not a member of the Social Welfare doctoral faculty or a CUNY faculty member. Outside committee members must be approved by the Executive Officer, and it is the student’s responsibility to provide a current curriculum vitae for a proposed outside member. Once the chair and committee are agreed upon, the student informs the APO of the names of the chair and all committee members with their contact information.

The student is responsible for selecting a currently sitting Social Welfare doctoral faculty member to chair their dissertation. Choosing a chair requires a mutual agreement, and faculty members may decline to serve. Students should keep in mind the activities involved in chairing a dissertation. The chair oversees the dissertation from proposal through the defense. The chair works with the student to develop and design the dissertation research; decides when the proposal is ready for defense; runs both the proposal defense and the dissertation defense; reviews and signs the IRB/HRHP application; works with the student to complete the writing of the dissertation; and determines when the dissertation is ready for defense. The student and chair should develop a clear agreement about how they will work together and agree on their mutual expectations. Students who have difficulty identifying a faculty member to serve as chair should consult with the Executive Officer.

The student is responsible for asking two Social Welfare doctoral faculty members to serve as committee members. Alternatively, the student and chair may propose a CUNY faculty member willing and eligible to serve on the doctoral faculty for the purpose of serving on the committee who is approved as above. Composing the dissertation committee is best done in consultation with the student’s chair. Choosing the committee members requires mutual agreements, and faculty members may decline to serve. The committee members usually read dissertation drafts and participate in the proposal defense and the dissertation defense. The responsibilities of committee members vary during the process of preparing the proposal and the dissertation for defense, depending on the chair’s style of working with the student and with the committee. The student, chair, and the committee members should develop a clear agreement about the process of working together and understanding of their mutual expectations. Students who have difficulty in identifying faculty who might serve as committee members may consult with the Executive Officer.

The proposal is written under the guidance of the chair, and the chair may select a format for the proposal that they find suitable; there is no departmental format requirement for the Proposal. The proposal should include a timeline for completing the dissertation. The chair may or may not suggest that the student consult with the committee members prior to submission of the proposal for defense. However, the committee members must have copies of the proposal three weeks prior to the defense. The chair decides when the proposal is ready for defense and may or may not ask committee members for their approval of its readiness. The proposal format must comply with the Dissertation Checklist. The student is responsible for proposal and dissertation drafts conforming to APA 6th Edition style. Students may not begin data collection without HRRP approval.

Once the chair approves the proposal for defense, the student submits one electric copy of the proposal to the APO who schedules the dissertation proposal defense. Committee members may request paper copies of the proposal, which the student must provide. The committee members and the student meet for a two-hour defense. The faculty is not available to sit for a proposal defense from mid-June through the third week in August. Committee members should receive the proposal at least three weeks prior to the defense date. Under unusual circumstances, a student may ask committee members if they may submit the proposal closer to the defense date; the committee is not under any obligation to agree to less time.
 
The committee meets in person for the Proposal Defense. When necessary, members may participate via telephonic or web technology. The dissertation chair runs the defense. Under the chair’s guidance, the student may be asked to prepare a short presentation summarizing the key elements of the dissertation, for example using a PowerPoint presentation. The Proposal Defense should include discussion of the proposal’s merits and any suggestions for revisions or reworking the design for the dissertation or other input from the committee members. The committee decides if the student is ready to proceed to work on the dissertation. At the end of the defense, the student is informed of the committee’s disposition, and the student and the chair and/or the committee agree to next steps in the dissertation process. The student may be asked to revise the proposal, and if so, the student will rewrite the proposal as discussed in the defense. If the committee decides on a revision, the committee may or may not convene an additional defense.

The student must secure IRB/HRRP clearance before collecting any original data or analyzing any secondary data for any research project conducted while they are a student and for the dissertation research. The student may have received IRB/HRRP approval for a pilot study before the proposal stage, in which case they may only need to submit amendments to the protocol for expanding the research for the dissertation. The chair will help the student determine when IRB/HRRP submission for the dissertation research is required. If the chair is a member of the Hunter faculty, the application must go through the Hunter/HRRP. If the chair is a central line Graduate Center faculty member, the application must go through the Graduate Center IRB/HRRP. As part of the electronic IRB/HRRP application submission process, the student electronically invites the chair to be on the research team to enable chair’s signature. The student must ensure their CITI certificate and the chair’s CITI certificate is up to date. For questions and concerns about preparing the IRB/HHRP application, please consult the Hunter College HHRP office at hrpp@hunter.cuny.edu. Please see CUNY’s HRPP Policy on Faculty Advisor Responsibilities.

The student should develop a working contract with the dissertation chair, which can be informal or formal as per the chair’s discretion and set up a timeline for completion of the research. The student works in consultation with the chair while conducting the research and writing the dissertation and consults with committee members as warranted. It is advisable to schedule regular meetings.
 
Guidelines for the conventional and three-paper dissertation options are available on the program website and through this link: dissertation guidelines.
 
The dissertation is written under the guidance of the chair, and the chair may select a format they find suitable (See Examples). The dissertation must comply with the Dissertation Checklist. The student is required to ensure the dissertation conforms to APA 6th Edition style and should suggest editorial assistance if necessary to achieve proper formatting. See the Graduate Center Guidelines for Formatting Dissertations for further formatting requirements for deposit of the dissertation.
 
The dissertation chair determines when the dissertation is ready for defense informs the APO, who will schedule the defense. The student sends the APO an electronic copy of the dissertation draft in Word. The student must provide paper copies of the dissertation if committee members or chair request them. The APO distributes electronic copies of the proposal, or requested paper copies, to the dissertation committee members and chair. The APO schedules the student and committee members for a two-hour defense. Committee members should receive the proposal at least three weeks prior to the defense date. Under unusual circumstances, a student may ask committee members if they may submit the proposal closer to the defense date; the committee is not under any obligation to agree to less time. Although it is desirable for the entire committee to meet in person for the defense, committee members or the student may participate via telephonic or web technology if they are unable to attend in person.

The APO schedules the dissertation defense and provides the forms that need to be signed following the defense. The faculty is not available to sit for a dissertation defense from mid-June through the third week in August. Customarily, the defense has been closed to people other than the chair, committee members, and the student; however, students may invite guests to hear the defense with the approval of the chair.

Following a successful dissertation defense, the chair informs the APO of the outcome and signs the required forms for the APO to process. There are four possible outcomes for the defense: Pass without revisions; pass with minor revisions; pass with major revisions; and fail. If the outcome is pass with minor revisions, only the dissertation chair has to review the changes. If the outcome is pass with major revisions, all the committee members have to review the dissertation and convene another defense. If the student fails the defense, the chair and committee members make written recommendations for the student to follow.
 
Revisions and corrections are common, and students should factor in time to respond to any concerns raised by faculty members in the defense. The EO must sign off on all dissertations and may also raise concerns about the quality of the work and the presentation of the dissertation for deposit.

The process for depositing the dissertation and resources for students planning to deposit can be found at http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/dissertations.

Quick Links

Documents

Access the following PDFs regarding the dissertation:

dissertation room-iron scrollwork-book shelves