Guidelines - Doctoral - Music and Performing Arts

Guidelines for Dissertation Proposal

1. Students must have taken the Proposal Seminar Course (or the equivalent) required by their Programs. The Dissertation Committee should be appointed as a condition of enrolling in the Proposal Seminar. Minimally, the Chair of the Dissertation Committee must be appointed. It is your responsibility to approach members of the faculty to ask them to serve on your committee. Once you have secured a Chair, you might wish to discuss the possibility of other members of the committee.

The dissertation committee should be comprised of three professors, including a Chair and full-time faculty member from the doctoral candidate's program (Adjunct Professors with earned doctorates may also serve) and a faculty member outside of the candidate1s discipline or program. It is helpful to have the full committee appointed when enrolling for Dissertation Proposal Seminar. At the very least, the Chair of the Dissertation Committee should be secured before enrolling in the seminar. During the proposal seminar the candidate will develop a full proposal with the dissertation committee which will be reviewed by a Departmental Faculty Commission.

The proposal should address and include the following:

  1. Titlepage (The same format as for the dissertation. See Doctoral Handbook.)
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Title
  4. Problem Statement
  5. Statement of Subproblems
  6. Definitions
  7. Delimitations/Limitations
  8. Need for Study
  9. Discussion of Related Literature
  10. Discussion of Method as related to each sub-problem
  11. A sample of method applied to a portion of data (i.e., sample analysis, pilot study, etc.), or a deep discussion of theory or other factors if a sample analysis is not appropriate to the study
  12. Bibliography
  13. Appendices
  14. Curriculum Vitae.

This enumeration of factors to be included is not intended as a prescription of form, but as elements that must be addressed in some formal manner in the proposal.

2. Students must have fulfilled all conditions set by the graduate office for filing proposals.

3. Students must have participated in the Topic Review (or the older mini-proposal review). Generally, proposals are submitted for review no earlier than the semester following Topic Review.

4. Students must have met with their full, three-member committee, and the committee must have signed the Proposal Approval Form available from the graduate office. This form must be completely filled out and attached to the front of the proposal. In the case of D.A. degrees, students must have the title page of the proposal signed by all three members of the committee. For the D.A., a memorandum from the Chair of the dissertation committee is also required, stating that the committee has met at least once with the candidate and approves the proposal.

5. Students who have studies involving human participants (interviews, subjects for observation, data collection, etc.) must complete the Human Subjects Approval Form and include it with the proposal. The Human Subjects Form is not to be submitted to the Human Subjects Review Commission until the student has received the response of the Departmental Proposal Review Commission. This applies to all students involved with human subjects, including interviews. Students planning to file for exemption should also complete and include the form appropriately filled out for the exemption.

6. Do not use any special covers or binders. Paper fasteners or staples are appropriate.

7. Submit the Dissertation Proposal via email to Dr. Jonathan Jones ( for the Proposal Review. You may begin submitting a week prior to the deadline.

8. No proposals are to be submitted to the graduate office until the student has received the response of the Departmental Proposal Review Commission and complied with its recommendations and any revisions required by Human Subjects Review.

9. Proposals are reviewed by a Departmental Review Commission appointed by the Department Director of Doctoral Studies. The student is requested to be present at the review and accompanied by the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, if possible. The attendance of student and/or the chair of the dissertation is not mandatory but is highly recommended. It is recognized that students may live a some distance or have job commitments which may make their attendance impossible. All students receive a written summary of the review which enables them to move forward in the process.