Comprehensive Examination, Part 1

The student is required to submit to the doctoral committee a written thesis proposal; the student should consult with all committee members during the writing of the proposal. The proposal is a shortened version of the first three chapters of the dissertation. This usually includes:

  1. a statement of the problem or research question;
  2. a focused literature review, including, if appropriate, an explication of the study’s conceptual/theoretical framework;
  3. a study design, and;
  4. a plan of analysis, including a methods section.


Students should consult with their chairs about the specific format. The student must circulate the proposal to the committee and obtain the chair’s approval before arranging a presentation of the proposal (Comprehensive Examination, part 2). The student should ask faculty if they would prefer an electronic or paper copy. If a faculty indicates a paper copy, then the student shall provide a paper copy. Faculty members will not print dissertation proposals. Typically, students should expect to produce several drafts before the chair decides that the student can move to the proposal defense stage. An advisor may also ask a student to complete the full version of the first three chapters of the dissertation or an abbreviated version of the first tree chapters of the dissertation. Committee members will evaluate the student’s proposal in preparation for the proposal defense.

After the chair decides that the student is ready to advance to part 2 of the comprehensive examination, the proposal defense will be scheduled by the student and doctoral committee (see next section). EDLDR faculty members will contact the student’s committee chair about any concerns before the proposal defense.