Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Dissertation Proposal Defense


The intent of the Ph.D. proposal defense is to review and evaluate the content and style of the dissertation proposal and the student's ability to present the ideas orally.


When the prescribed course work is substantially complete as defined by the Advisory Committee, the doctoral student is eligible to present his/her dissertation proposal. There must be at least a six-month period between the date when the proposal has been successfully defended and the final dissertation defense.


A doctoral student's proposal defense consists of the following components:

  • A written dissertation proposal that is prepared by the student and presented to the Advisory Committee for review and evaluation.
  • An oral presentation of the dissertation proposal, which occurs at least two weeks after the written proposal is submitted to the Advisory Committee.
  • An oral and/or written examination(s) to assess the student's preparation in the major and related field(s) of study for conducting the proposed research.

The Advisory Committee will decide whether or not the third portion of the proposal defense will be written or oral. Passing the proposal defense shall require:

  • Satisfactory performance on the oral dissertation proposal presentation.
  • Satisfactory performance on the formal examination.
  • A satisfactory written dissertation proposal, a copy of which will be placed in the student's file.

Evaluation Criteria

The Advisory Committee will consider all of the information available to it, including an interview with the student to clarify unresolved issues, and render one of the following decisions:

  • The student passes the proposal defense and he/she is encouraged to finish all remaining requirements at the earliest possible time.
  • The student passes the defense and, except for identified deficiencies for which the committee will prescribe a remedy, the student is encouraged to finish all remaining requirements at the earliest possible time.
  • The student fails the defense but is given permission to repeat it after certain conditions are met.
  • The student fails the defense and is asked to withdraw from the program at the end of the term.

Passing the defense requires approval of at least two thirds of the students advisory committee.


A student may appeal the Advisory Committee's decision. Such an appeal must be made in writing to the Graduate Director. The written appeal must contain explicit reasons for requesting that the review be conducted. The appeal must be filed within two weeks from the date the student is notified in writing by the Graduate Director of the Advisory Committee's decision. The Graduate Director will then present his case to the Graduate Committee for a final decision.

Last Updated: 6/30/19