Section 7.3: Dissertation

A dissertation is required of each doctoral candidate in any department/school offering the doctoral degree, with the exception of the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree.  The dissertation topic must be approved by the department/school and filed with the academic college dean no later than one semester preceding that in which the candidate expects to receive the degree.  The dissertation must demonstrate that the student has acquired the ability to conduct research in a discriminating and original manner.  The dissertation should make a significant enough contribution to the field in which it is written that at least one scholarly article suitable for publication in a professional journal may be derived from it or that the findings of the dissertation would be otherwise publishable.

Each doctoral candidate, upon admission to candidacy, must register for Dissertation (8xx99) for a total of 30 hours.  It is expected that a doctoral candidate will continuously register for Dissertation I, and thereafter Dissertation II, each semester, including summer, until all requirements for the degree have been met.  The In-Progress (IP) grade is used until the student completes the dissertation at which time all IP grades in dissertation are changed to Satisfactory (S) grades.


Each graduate program has adopted a procedure for the preparation of a dissertation prospectus. This document will normally include an outline of the parameters of the projected dissertation topic with a statement of the problem to be undertaken, the procedure or methodology to be used in the research, a preliminary review of the literature substantiating the need for the study, and the principle sources of information for the dissertation.  The prospectus must be in writing, but an oral presentation may also be required.


The supervision of the final stages of the dissertation and approvals thereof are the responsibility of the student’s academic unit.  This unit may be a department, a school, or a designated graduate program within a college, department, or school.  After the dissertation is accepted by the dissertation advisor, it will be read by the student’s dissertation committee, and any recommended revisions will be communicated to the student. Upon completion of the revisions, if any, the student will be required to defend the findings before a committee of graduate faculty members, including the dissertation committee and others chosen by the department/school and academic college dean.  The responsibility for conducting the examination itself will be that of an impartial moderator selected from a department/school other than that of the student’s major.  The defense of the dissertation is open to the University community.  Questioning is restricted to members of the graduate faculty, and the vote of the examining committee will be conducted in private.


This committee is comprised of graduate faculty members and is appointed by the candidate’s department/school when the candidate has developed an appropriate dissertation topic and has an approved advisor.  Normally, this committee will consist of a minimum of the advisor (who will act as chair of the committee), two additional members from the candidate’s program, and one faculty member from a discipline outside the program.  Only one of the four members may be A-3 or F-3 graduate faculty status.  All others must have F-4 graduate faculty status.

The advisor and at least two of the remaining three must be members of the graduate faculty who have been approved to direct dissertations. If a co-advisor is desired, s(he) should be included in the above members.  If, for warranted reasons, it is desirous to have a person on the committee who does not meet the above qualifications, special permission must be obtained from the academic college dean or designee.


When the advisor believes the dissertation is ready for preliminary approval, the academic college dean must be notified to request the appointment of the graduate faculty representative (GFR) to serve on the Examining Committee.

The Examining Committee will consist of the Dissertation Committee (a minimum of the advisor, two additional members from the candidate’s program, and one faculty member from a discipline outside the program), plus a GFR who may act as moderator.

The GFR will be appointed by the academic college dean, or his/her designate after consultation, when appropriate, with the advisor or department chair/school director.  To qualify, s(he) must have directed a dissertation to completion a member of the D-list.  The GFR should be familiar with the general content area of the dissertation.  The GFR most often comes from outside the student’s department/school but may be a member of the candidate’s program faculty but outside the candidate’s area of concentration.  The GFR may also come from outside the University but must have directed a dissertation to completion.  The GFR represents the graduate faculty by noting whether or not the nature of the questioning and the responses meet highly respectable scholarly standards.  If s(he) has some reservation in regard to this, the reservations should be presented immediately to the academic college dean or his/her designate.  The GFR is expected to question the candidate and to vote on the passing of the final examination.

If a separate moderator is desired, s(he) will be selected by the Dissertation Committee from the members of the graduate faculty who have been approved to direct dissertations. S(he) will not be a faculty member in the candidate’s major program.  The principal duties of the moderator are to preside and to moderate.  S(he) should see to it that all participants act in a civilized, polite, and proper manner.  S(he) should be familiar with the procedures of the oral defense, and has the authority to suspend the examination should a situation arise that would not be conducive to a fair examination.

Once the GFR is appointed, the dissertation will be circulated in easily legible form among the members of the committee. The advisor will allow a minimum of a ten-day period for reading of the dissertation and will then convene the dissertation committee including the GFR (without the candidate) for the purpose of evaluating it. Recommended revisions will be noted by the advisor and communicated to the candidate, and when in the opinion of the advisor and the candidate, the appropriate revisions have been made, the advisor will inform the graduate/program coordinator, the department chair/school director, and the academic college dean.


When the Dissertation Committee has met and has agreed to proceed to the final examination, the advisor will designate the time and place of the final oral defense and notify all members of the examining committee.  The oral defense is open to any member of the University wishing to attend and, therefore, a facility adequate to meet this requirement should be provided.  The defense should be scheduled to allow a minimum of ten days for all of the examination committee to look over the dissertation; this is in addition to the ten-day period preceding the Dissertation Committee meeting.  In the absence of the advisor, the oral defense may not be held.  If it is a matter of long term absence or enduring illness of the advisor, the department chair/school director, in consultation with the academic college dean, should make appropriate arrangements for a substitute.

The dissertation must be in final form (not merely a late draft but also not necessarily the final typed copy) prior to the final oral defense.  It is permissible to number pages in pencil, however, so as to reduce the cost of final changes that may grow out of the oral defense.  If, in the opinion of more than one member of the examining committee, the dissertation is not in acceptable final form the oral defense will not be held.  This is to be determined by vote prior to the final oral examination and without the candidate or others being present.  If a negative vote occurs, the candidate may be called in to provide clarification.  Acceptable form refers to the substance and usefulness of the dissertation as well as the quality of the writing. A rescheduling of the oral defense, if necessary, will occur when, in the opinion of the advisor and the student, the dissertation has been modified to incorporate the suggested changes.  The dissertation must be acceptable, with no more than one dissenting vote, before the rescheduled final oral can be held.  If the dissertation is not in suitable form at this second scheduled oral, the academic college dean will be so notified.  Further action is then the responsibility of the academic college dean.

The final oral defense will be open to the University community.  Notification of the time and place of the defense should be provided to the academic college so that it may be announced in a suitable publication.  Copies of the abstract of the dissertation should be available in the candidate’s department/school and the academic college prior to the defense and at the defense itself, to familiarize other members of the graduate faculty with the methodology and findings.

The candidate will open the defense with a brief presentation of his/her findings, after which the members of the examining committee will question the candidate in an order to be determined by the moderator.  When, in the opinion of the moderator, members of the examining committee have had an adequate opportunity to question the candidate, the moderator may open the examination to appropriate questions from others present.  Questions dealing with the substance, meaning, and usefulness of the research in the dissertation are of greatest propriety. Questions or comments dealing with punctuation or grammatical minutiae, spelling, etc., are out of order and should be written out and privately submitted to the advisor.

If, in the opinion of the moderator or upon motion duly passed by a majority of the committee, it should be deemed necessary to discontinue the defense, the moderator may recess the defense until a time mutually agreeable to the moderator, the advisor, the candidate, and the academic college dean.

When the questioning has run its course, the moderator will adjourn the defense and the room will be cleared of everyone except the members of the examining committee.  Parliamentary procedure will be observed to determine the success or failure of the candidate, with the moderator acting as chair without a vote.

The candidate should be evaluated both (a) upon the overall quality and significance of his/her dissertation, and (b) upon the oral defense of his/her findings.  A candidate passes the final oral defense if s(he) passes with no more than one dissenting vote.

All members of the examining committee will sign the Report of Final Examination form, recording their votes; committee members may vote “Yes” or “No” but they may not abstain. The moderator and department chair/school director must then sign the Reports of Final Examination, which is forwarded to the academic college.

Only members of the examining committee that voted “YES” are required to sign the dissertation signature page.


After the candidate has passed the oral examination, the doctoral candidate will submit his/her dissertation in electronic form.  The dissertation will also include an abstract of no more than 350 words.  Information on the process may be found on the University Libraries’ Guidelines for the Preparation of Electronic Theses and Dissertations website.  Dissertations must be prepared according to established guidelines.  Guidelines for preparation and typing of dissertations are available in the student’s academic college office.

Dissertations submitted electronically are available through the OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. Individual units may still require submission of a paper copy for their archives. It is the responsibility of the doctoral student to fulfill this requirement.

All dissertations must be published according to a plan provided by ProQuest Information and Learning, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the purposes of archiving, indexing, and dissemination.  All communications and relations between faculty or students and ProQuest shall be carried out only through the KSU librarian.  Publication of the complete dissertation or significant parts of it through other avenues is expected, but this is not to be used in lieu of the requirement stated herein.