To complete his or her doctoral degree, the candidate must pursue an original investigation under faculty direction and present the results in a dissertation. In addition to the information on this page, here are some additional instructions concerning the dissertation, including procedures for the proposal defense.

Within one year of passing the qualifying examination, the candidate must submit a written proposal that presents the projected content of the dissertation. The proposal is the vehicle for communicating the candidate’s project to the faculty. It should provide sufficient detail to allow faculty knowledgeable in the subject area to determine the validity and acceptability of the research, both in terms of quality and quantity. According to university rules, it should be prepared and defended in public before the candidate's Dissertation Committee as soon as the candidate and the adviser have agreed on preliminary guidelines for the dissertation. The chairperson of the Dissertation Committee, the dissertation adviser, determines the format of the proposal defense and conducts it.

The chairperson must inform the Program Director of the time and place of the proposal defense at least two weeks in advance. At the same time, the student must submit an abstract of the proposal and the url of a web site that makes the abstract available to the public and will serve as a platform for the student’s job search. Upon receiving this information, the Program Office will circulate an announcement of the defense to all members of the doctoral faculty who may have an interest in the topic.

The outside member should be consulted about the written proposal and should be at the defense if possible. After the proposal defense, the dissertation adviser submits a copy of the proposal to the Program Office, together with a one-paragraph summary of the advice and direction that the Dissertation Committee has provided to the candidate in response to it. This summary should be provided on the Proposal Defense Form.

Please Note:

  • Students who pass their qualifying examination anytime from April through September will be automatically be placed on academic probation if they have not defended their proposal by December 1 of the following year.
  • Students who pass their qualifying examination anytime from October through March will be placed on academic probation if they have not defended their proposal by May 1 of the following year.

The Program Director appoints the Dissertation Committee in consultation with the student’s adviser. The student or the adviser should propose a committee and a chair to the program office in writing well in advance of the proposal defense. The committee’s proposed composition should respect the following principles:

  1. The committee must have at least four members.
  2. The chair of the committee counts as one of its members. In exceptional cases, the director may appoint two members as co-chairs.
  3. The chair or at least one of the co-chairs must be a full member of the doctoral program’s faculty. Most of the members are tenure-track faculty members in RBS, but some are in other schools at Rutgers and NJIT or even in other universities.
  4. The committee must include at least one RBS faculty member.
  5. An RBS or NJIT faculty member may not serve on the committee unless he or she is a full or associate member of the program’s faculty.
  6. The university requires the appointment of an “outside member” – i.e., someone not on the program’s faculty. This person must be a scholarly authority in the area of the student’s dissertation and must have a record of recent publication comparable to that required for membership in the program’s faculty (at least three refereed journal articles or a scholarly monograph in the past five years). When recommending a committee to the program office, the student or adviser should provide a list of publications for the outside member.
  7. The outside member should not be a graduate of the program, nor a current or former member of the program’s faculty, nor an instructor in a course frequently taken by students in the program. Preferably, the outside member should be from outside Rutgers, but this is not required.
  8. Normally at least three members of the committee, counting the chair or co-chairs, are “inside members” – i.e., full or associate members of the program’s faculty. But at the request of the adviser, the program director may appoint committees with only two inside members and two highly qualified outside members.
  9. The program director will consider requests to appoint, as a fifth member, an additional outside member who may be less distinguished or less independent but can contribute in a particularly valuable way to the student’s research. The nature of the exceptional contribution should be explained fully.

These principles are consistent with the rules of the Rutgers Graduate School-Newark, which grants our program’s degrees, and also with the rules of the Rutgers Graduate School-New Brunswick, with which our program cooperates.

The Dissertation Committee is the candidate’s advising group. The candidate is strongly advised to submit research results to all its members on a regular basis. The committee should regularly review the candidate’s program of study and may prescribe additional course work or readings at any time. The completed dissertation must be approved by all members of the committee.

The completed dissertation must be defended in public before the Dissertation Committee. It must be in the hands of all members of the committee at least one month prior to this defense. The format of the defense, which is set by the dissertation adviser, must include an opportunity for any member of the faculty to question the candidate on the research. The defense is scheduled by the dissertation adviser, who must inform the Program Director of its time and place at least two weeks in advance. Upon receiving this notification and a copy of the completed dissertation, the Program Office will circulate an announcement of the defense to all members of the graduate faculty who may have an interest in the topic of the dissertation. In order to ensure the integrity of the process, the Program Office will not circulate the announcement, and the defense will not be officially scheduled, unless the Program Director is satisfied that the completed dissertation submitted to the Program Office is already in the hands of all members of the dissertation committee.