Fourth Year

The writing and successful defense of the dissertation is the final eligibility requirement for the PhD degree. Students are judged on the basis of their potential for independent scholarship and on the soundness of their work and its contribution to the chosen field of study. Dissertation planning begins earlier in the program, but becomes more focused at this stage.

The first step in the dissertation process is the development of a dissertation proposal, which should be completed in the first semester after passing the qualifying exam. Normally about 25-30 pages, the proposal should contain a clear statement of purpose, a rationale for the research, research questions or hypotheses, a review of pertinent literature and an explanation of the research methods to be used including the design, instrumentation, sampling procedures and plan for analysis.

Upon approval of the final draft of the dissertation by all members of the dissertation committee, the candidate must pass a general final oral examination. When the dissertation committee has certified the student has passed the defense, it recommends the candidate for the PhD degree.

Fourth-Year Checklist

  • Further develop faculty mentoring relationships
  • Complete dissertation proposal
  • Work toward completing dissertation
  • Fulfill teaching requirements
  • Conduct job search
  • Work on directed research and publications
  • Write papers and present at conferences
  • Develop and submit grant and fellowship applications to fund research
  • Participate in professional and career development workshops, seminars, lectures and conferences

Typical Fourth-Year Schedule

Students who have passed the qualifying examination must enroll in the SOWK 794 dissertation course, which maintains a student’s full-time status in the program.

Fall (Seventh Semester)

SOWK 794a Doctoral Dissertation (2)

Spring (Eighth Semester)

SOWK 794b Doctoral Dissertation (2)