Ph.D. students must register for a minimum of 12 credits of SLP/SPED 999 Dissertation. All SLPA/SPED 999 credits will initially be assigned a grade of IP for Incomplete but in Progress or XP for Incomplete with Inadequate Progress. All incomplete grades will be changed to a pass/no pass once the student successfully defends the dissertation to their Supervisory Committee.

A Ph.D. dissertation represents the beginning of an individual’s scholarly work, not its culmination. As such, dissertation research should provide students with hands-on, directed experience in the primary research/evaluation methods of their discipline and should prepare students for the type of research/scholarship that will be expected of them after receiving the Ph.D. degree. More specifically, the Ph.D. dissertation should: (a) reveal a student's ability to analyze, interpret, and synthesize information; (b) demonstrate the student's knowledge of the literature relating to the project and acknowledge prior scholarship underlying the dissertation; (c) describe the methods and procedures used; (d) present results in a sequential and logical manner; (e) discuss fully and coherently the meaning of the results; and (f) demonstrate the student’s ability to convey information clearly through writing. The work must contain sufficient detail to permit replication of the study by an independent investigator.

Dissertation Options

Dissertations can either be (a) traditional in form and focus on one research project or (b) multi-project in form and consist of a series of related research projects that appear as individual research reports with integrated literature review, discussion, and future directions sections. A student selecting the multi-project dissertation approach should work closely with his/her Supervisory Committee throughout the course of the research to ensure agreement among Committee members about focus, procedures, and analyses.

Dissertation Proposal

Students will draft the Introduction/Literature Review and Methods chapters to describe their research questions, rationale for those questions and procedures and proposed analysis for the dissertation study. All Committee members will read the proposal and meet together to share their approval or suggest improvements for the study. The student must receive approval from the Committee before proceeding to secure IRB approval or collecting data.

Dissertation Readers

At least 3-4 weeks prior to the planned dissertation defense, the student must send a copy of the dissertation to the two designated "Readers" of the dissertation for review. This will be a complete dissertation document with Abstract, Table of Contents, and chapters for an Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results and Discussion, References, and Tables and Figures as necessary. If the Readers believe the dissertation is ready for defense, they are to sign the Application for Final Oral Examination form. This form must be signed and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the scheduled oral defense date.

Dissertation Defense

The final examination for the Ph.D. degree (i.e., the dissertation defense) includes two parts of an oral presentation: a public portion and a closed portion. The public portion includes a presentation of the dissertation research by the student and a general questioning session. This portion is open to members both of the University community and the public. At the end of the public portion, only the Supervisory Committee members, invited faculty, and the student him/herself remain present for the closed questioning portion of the oral examination.

After completion of the closed questioning period, the Supervisory Committee confers in private to decide whether the student’s dissertation work and defense is sufficient in its present form or requires minor or major modification/remediation. Requiring a student to repeat the defense procedures is at the discretion of the Supervisory Committee for any dissertation work judged to need major modification. The earliest a second final examination opportunity will occur is the academic term or summer following the failed attempt. Failure to pass the second dissertation defense attempt results in automatic review of the student's academic and dissertation performance with a possibility of program termination. 

If the student is congratulated on a successful defense of his/her dissertation, each member of the Supervisory Committee should sign the Report of Completion form. This signed form should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible following the successful oral defense. The final letter grade for the dissertation credits should be noted on the Report of Completion form; this notation will remove all grades of Incomplete but in Progress for previous dissertation credits.