The final stage of the Ph.D. degree involves carrying out the dissertation research, writing and defending the dissertation.
 
The dissertation committee must consist of at least three faculty members and will usually be faculty who were on the advancement committee. The committee will be chaired by a faculty member in the department. For specific rules on choosing faculty members, see the graduate student handbook.
 
The dissertation is expected to be an original and significant piece of research in the student’s area of specialization. The research and writing process will vary from student to student, and should be closely supervised by the dissertation committee.
 
Students must keep their committee members apprised of their progress, and provide committee members with a draft of the dissertation with enough time for the faculty members to read and comment on the draft. The time frame will vary and should be discussed with individual faculty members.
 
The dissertation defense generally takes two hours and includes a brief presentation by the candidate and questions by the dissertation committee members. The defense may be public and questions may be allowed from the audience if the candidate and committee agree.