Oral Presentations of Dissertation Proposals


The Joint Committee organizes and moderates an event allowing students who have passed both of their Comprehensive Exams to present a draft of their dissertation project proposal. This event usually takes place in the sixth semester after most students have completed their Field Exams.

The purpose of this presentation is to provide an occasion for collegial reflection and feedback about the dissertation project proposal before it is submitted for approval by the Joint Committee (usually in the seventh semester). Hence the Joint Committee will invite the candidates, their supervisors and committee members, all members of the religion departments of both institutions (including adjunct members), and other interested faculty and students to participate. It is recommended that first year doctoral students (students in the third semester of their program) attend the oral presentations.

The Joint Committee shall set the parameters for oral presentations but, normally, candidates will be allotted 20 minutes or so to present their proposal, followed by discussion from audience members who may question any part of the project (theory, method, data set, guiding questions, ethics, feasibility, etc.). The spirit of the discussion period is one of positive critique and helpful suggestion. This is not an examination.

The presentation of the dissertation project proposal should address what question you will answer, how you will answer it, why the answer matters, and how you are qualified to answer that particular question (see guidelines in previous section). The presentation should be prepared in close consultation with the supervisor(s) and other committee members.

The presentation of the dissertation project proposal is not graded, not even on a pass/fail basis. However, in making its decision on whether to approve the final dissertation project proposal (usually in the seventh semester), the Joint Committee may consider if the candidate has responded effectively to criticisms and comments made at the oral presentation event.