The Catholic University of America

 Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

M.A. Proposals

A reader for the thesis is assigned from the faculty; the director and reader are responsible for approving the proposal and placing it in the student’s file. The student, with the help of a faculty member who serves as director, will prepare a one-page thesis proposal that presents the background, purpose, method, and contribution of the thesis. The proposal with a selected bibliography will be submitted to the Director of the Academic Area for approval and will then go to the M.A. Committee for final approval.

S.T.L. Proposals

The S.T.L. candidate will work in conjunction with the Director and Reader of the thesis in preparing the proposal. When the Director and Reader approve the proposal, it will then be submitted to the faculty of the Academic Area for approval. Subsequently the proposal is submitted to the members of the Ecclesiastical Degree Committee for approval. The proposal is kept in the student’s file.

Doctoral Proposals

These regulations apply to PhD and STD proposals. A student, who has been formally admitted to candidacy, is eligible to submit a doctoral proposal. The following guidelines for the dissertation proposal must be carefully followed:

The Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Approval Process

Initial Steps of the Process

The student is responsible for securing a director and two readers who will form the dissertation committee. Generally, the committee members should be STRS faculty and hold the degree of Ph.D. or D.Phil. The readers may hold the D.Min. degree if they bring relevant experience to the committee.

The Ph.D. Proposal Committee will use a rubric for evaluating proposals that specifies the instructions articulated in the university guidelines for proposals. The proposal should be organized as follows:

  1. Background / state of the question
  2. Purpose
  3. Methodology
  4. Contribution / Originality
  5. Apended biography (additional two pages)

Evaluation of the Proposal by the Ph.D. Proposal Committee

  1. Once the director has determined that the proposal is ready to be evaluated, the proposal must be approved by the student's academic area.
  2. The student must send the Chair of the Ph.D. Proposal Committee an electronic copy of the proposal.
  3. The student must provide the Chair with two forms:
        a. Doctoral Dissertation Topic and Committee Request for Approval Form (signed by the area director, the dissertation advisor, and the student)
        b. Ph.D. Proposal Recommendation by the Academic Area Form (signed by area director)
  4. When the Chair has received both forms and the electronic copy of the proposal, the proposal will go before the Ph.D. Proposal Committee. The Ph.D. Proposal Committee meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month. The Chair shouls receive all documents by the Wednesday prior to the meeting.
  5. At the Committee meeting, the student's director is asked to be present to answer any questions the Committee may have.  The proposal may be approved by the Committee either "as is" or on the understanding that small-scale emendations will be made. In the latter case, it is the responsibility of the director to communicate the requested emendations to the student and to ensure that these are made by the student. Once the emendations have been made to the director's satisfaction, the student should submit the revised proposal to the Ph.D. Proposal Commttee Chair. The Committee may also decide that the proposal requires major reworking and needs to be resubmitted to the Committee after reviion.  In this case as well, the director is responsible for conveying the Committee's remarks to the student and ensuring that the student makes the recommended revisions.  Once this has been done to the director's satisfaction, the student should forward the revised proposal to the Ph.D. Chair who will bring it before the Committee at its next meeting.

Final Stages of the Dissertation Proposal Approval Process

Once the Ph.D. Proposal Committee Chair has the student's proposal as approved by the Committee (or revised in accordance with the Committee's comments) as well as the two required documents listed above, the Chair will write the student a letter officially informing them that the proposal has been approved by the Committee. A copy of that letter will be included in the student's file, which the Chair will submit to the STRS Dean. The Dean will either approve the proposal as submitted and sign the "Request for Approval Form" or ask for changes, which the Dean will communicate to the director and the student. The director and student will make changes and resubmit the proposal to the Dean.

Once the Dean has signed the proposal, he will transmit the student's file to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean of Graduate Studies will have the proposal assessed by an evaluator outside STRS. On the basis of that evaluation, the Dean of Graduate Studies will either approve the proposal as submitted or ask that it be revised in minor or major ways, and will so inform the student and director. If revisions are necessary, they will need to be made by the student in consultation with the director. The revised proposal must then be resubmitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies, who, in all cases, makes the final decision regarding the approval of the proposal.