The range of dissertations completed by Social Thought students is wide. Students should begin to develop their dissertation proposals immediately after the completion of their Fundamental Exam and should do so in close consultation with potential faculty members of the dissertation committee.
A proposal is ordinarily approximately 5000 words in length (this is a firm limit--anything
exceeding 5000 words will not be read by the faculty) plus a bibliography. It should present the
problem to be addressed, its disciplinary and transdisciplinary importance, approaches taken by
previous scholarship, the character and advantages of the approach to be taken, and the
expected structure of the dissertation. It is ordinarily written in the future tense and need not
presume the author has already solved the problem to be addressed. It is important to have an
approved proposal and a dissertation chapter by the start of the second quarter of the fourth
To aid students with the proposal process, students must register for the CST Dissertation
Proposal Writing Workshop, SCTH 75005, in spring quarter of their third year.
The doctoral dissertation committee must include one member of the Committee faculty to
serve as first reader and at least two other faculty members both of whom may come from
elsewhere in the University and one of who may come from outside the University. It is
customary to consult with the first reader about the composition of the committee. The
proposal must be approved first by the members of the dissertation committee after they meet
with the student and then by the Committee on Social Thought faculty as a whole at a faculty
Year 3, Spring Quarter:
Students must register for the CST Dissertation Proposal Writing Workshop, SCTH 75005.
Determine dissertation committee members.
Final and committee-approved dissertation proposals must be submitted to the student affairs administrator no later than three weeks before the faculty meeting at which they will be discussed.
By the end of year four, students should have an approved dissertation proposal. Students who are unable to meet this timeline should meet with their advisors immediately to determine next steps.
Students should write their dissertations in consultation with their dissertation committees.
Members of the dissertation committee also bear primary responsibility for advising and assisting the student in making the transition to professional life and seeking academic
employment. A dissertation proposal is not a contract and a finished dissertation often diverges
substantially from the proposal, but students should keep their dissertation committee
informed of the dissertation's development.
Progress During the Dissertation Stage
Since Social Thought dissertations span a range of disciplines, there is no single formula for
producing a dissertation. However, it is essential that clear evidence of progress is offered each
year. Every spring quarter, students must submit progress reports. Once a student is ABD, it is
expected that a student will produce one or two chapters per year, and that this work will
receive feedback from members of the dissertation committee. Evidence of progress in the
form of chapter drafts is especially important in the latter stages of the program.
Funding in Social Thought is guaranteed through year seven of the program. Students should
be cognizant of this time limit and plan accordingly with their dissertation committee members.
Petitions for an eighth year of funding may be made in May. The outcome of these petitions will
depend on strong evidence of progress in the previous year, and on the demonstration that an
extra year of funding would be used to complete the dissertation.
Submitting the Dissertation
The final draft of the dissertation should be submitted to members of the dissertation
committee and discussed at a full meeting of said committee.
Students must submit the final dissertation with the University Dissertation Office. Quarterly
submission deadlines are published by that office annually. Students should check those
deadlines the year they plan to finish the dissertation, so as not to delay completion of the
degree. For more information about dissertation submissions, please visit the Dissertation
Recommended Dissertation Submission Timeline
Students should plan to submit the final versions of their dissertations to their committees no later than six weeks before the Dissertation Office's published quarterly submission deadlines. It is recommended that students submit the final, committee-approved dissertation to ProQuest at least two weeks before the Dissertation Office's deadline. Submitting before the deadline allows time to make any formatting error revisions.
Once the dissertation is filed, the Student Affairs Administrator will schedule a public doctoral lecture by the candidate. The doctoral lecture is a formal public presentation based on the dissertation designed to address questions of general interest to students and faculty in the Committee.