Dissertation Proposal Preparation and Defense

After passing the comprehensive examination and meeting any additional requirements indicated by the LTEC faculty on the committee, the student enters the proposal phase. 

Writing the Proposal: In this stage, the doctoral candidate prepares a formal dissertation “proposal” that must be approved in writing by their committee. For students completing the traditional dissertation, the proposal is typically the first three chapters of the dissertation (introduction to the problem, literature review, and methodology). The proposal is written in the format of these chapters in a final dissertation and follows dissertation style guidelines. The proposal for the alternative-format dissertation project will be unique to each student and will be developed in conjunction with the dissertation committee. All students will have completed the literature review as part of the comprehensive examination; while this is re-examined by the committee in a proposal defense the primary emphasis is the problem and methodology. Students work closely with their chair during proposal writing and continue to enroll in the advanced seminar during fall and spring semesters until the proposal has been passed.

Scheduling a Proposal Defense: Scheduling of the defense should be done at least three weeks prior to the event. The student presents the written proposal to her/his full committee at least two  and preferably three weeks before an oral proposal defense (see topic 6.4); the document should not be sent to other committee members until approved by the chair. The committee determines whether a student has passed this defense, and may ask for revisions or changes until they are satisfied the proposal meets the high standards of the department and the University. Because many faculty members are nine-month employees who do research in the summer, the proposal defense may only be done in fall or spring semesters with rare exceptions. 

Passing and ABD Status: All committee members must approve the proposal. Upon passing the proposal defense, the committee will sign Graduate Division Form II and submit this to the Graduate Division for final approval. Students who have successfully completed an approved proposal are designated as “doctoral candidates” and given the status of “All But Dissertation” (ABD). The approval of the doctoral dissertation topic (Graduate Division Form II) must be signed and the IRB application approved prior to registering for dissertation credits, LTEC 800. 

Human Subjects Requirement: If the dissertation research involves human subjects, a letter indicating that the Committee on Human Subjects at the University of Hawaii (Institutional Review Board or IRB) has completed a positive review of the proposal must be submitted at the time that the student files Form II and before any collection of data or enrollment in LTEC 800. Even studies that do not fall under standard human subjects review guidelines must have a letter from the Committee on Human Subjects stating the proposal does not need review. The decision as to whether the research involves human subjects is not up to the student, but must be decided by the UH IRB. In some cases, students may also need to get permission for their research from the site at which the study will be conducted, particularly if this involves pre-K-12 schools. Students should work with their advisors to meet additional requirements if collecting data from children, in schools, or from other vulnerable populations.

Continuing Enrollment: After passing the proposal defense and with approval from Graduate Division of Form II, students enroll in  LTEC 800 – Dissertation Research following the approval until the final written dissertation has been approved by Graduate Division. Students at this stage in their doctoral studies are considered full-time with enrollment for one credit. A student must be continuously enrolled in Fall and Spring semesters until he or she graduates, and must be enrolled in the summer if that is the semester in which the final written dissertation is being submitted to the Graduate Division.