Dissertation Proposal Guidelines

Proposal Guidelines

The proposal consists of the first three chapters of the dissertation: Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology.

The following outline is meant as a guide, not a rigid framework. It assumes an empirical project. Candidates adopting a non-empirical project, such as a philosophical or conceptual analysis, will veer significantly from this guide. Students embarking on these types of projects must rely on the Dissertation Chair for formatting guidance.

Effective dissertation proposals should contain the following:

  1. Title

  2. Introduction to the Study: Context of the Issue

    1. Research problem (If applicable
    2. Research statement and purpose (Create a clear and focused statement that describes your intended inquiry [i.e., The purpose of this study is...]. Refer to this statement in your proposal whenever you want to discuss your plans.
    3. Kind of study/why it is appropriate (qualitative, quantitative, conceptual/theoretical, mixed methods, historical or arts based) 
    4.  What is the significance of the study?
  3. Study Context: Review of the Literature and a Description of the Conceptual/Theoretical Framework

    1. Relationship of study to existing research
    2. Relationship of study to personal experience and knowledge (qualitative)
    3. Contributions of pilot study to your current thoughts and proposed approaches
  4. Research Questions

    1. Description of the major questions or hypotheses that your work seeks to understand/explain/prove
    2. Statement(s) regarding the relationship of your questions/hypothese to prior research and theory and your own research purposes
  5. Research Methods: Describe and justify each selection, making use of research text and articles to demonstrate your familiarity with the procedures you are proposing

    1. Description of research setting or context
    2. Detailed discussion of your chosen research strategy/type of study
    3. Sampling strategies: population, sites, places, times, and other data sources
    4. Data collection techniques: instruments, variables, observation techniques, protocols
    5. Data analysis procedures
    6. Consideration of possible ethical issues
  6. Validity

    1. Potential threats to the study’s validity/trustworthiness
    2. How the threats will be handled
  7. Implications/Significance/Contributions

    1. Knowledge, policy and/or practice: How might your research contribute to knowledge or theory, policy, educational practice or practitioners?
  8. References

  9. Appendices

    1. Timetable
    2. IRB Request for Initial Review
    3. Recruitment materials
    4. Consent Forms
    5. Request for Letter(s) of Agreement from participating agency/agencies
    6. Interview protocols, sample instructions, observation form(s)