Proposal/ Prospectus

The Dissertation Proposal/Prospectus

A dissertation proposal/prospectus is required of all doctoral students. The proposed dissertation will show command of the literature and research methodology of the student’s specialty. The dissertation proposal/prospectus directly relates to the student’s dissertation and, if accepted, is the first step of the dissertation. If the proposal/prospectus is accepted, the student is then considered a Doctoral Candidate. A student should complete any unmet course requirements prior to Proposal/Prospectus defense. Registration for EDL 7999: Dissertation Research will not be approved until all coursework is complete. 

Dissertation Committee

A cohesive dissertation committee is imperative for a successful dissertation. Writing a dissertation is a lengthy journey and that the support of a strong committee is a tremendous asset for completing that journey successfully. The dissertation committee consists of a minimum three members -- the Dissertation Chair and at least two other faculty with graduate faculty status. A candidate can check the graduate faculty status of any Appalachian State University faculty member on the Graduate School’s website. 

The Dissertation Chair (Chair) must be a member of Appalachian State University’s graduate faculty. Generally they are from the College of Education; but they may be a tenured or untenured faculty member of Appalachian State University’s graduate faculty. The Chair will serve as the student’s primary advisor from this point forward. Once a graduate faculty member has agreed to serve as Chair, they will assist the student in identifying additional graduate faculty who will provide needed expertise as members of the dissertation committee.

The other members of the committee may be faculty at other institutions IF they are accepted as graduate faculty by Appalachian State University’s Graduate School. There is an application for graduate faculty status on the Graduate School’s website. Graduate faculty from other institutions that have been granted status at Appalachian State University are affiliate graduate faculty. We restrict committees to one affiliate member.

It is recommended that the student work with the Chair to choose a committee that will guide their research in the following ways:

  • Enriching the current body of literature through extensive knowledge of the topic
  • Creating a sound methodological design and conducting accurate data analysis
  • Enhancing the quality of the written work through extensive editing

The Dissertation Committee will:

  • Approve the student’s dissertation topic
  • Work with the student to draft a successful dissertation proposal/prospectus
  • Review and approve the dissertation proposal/prospectus
  • Attend and participate in the proposal/prospectus defense
  • Provide advice and counsel throughout the dissertation research process
  • Attend and participate in a Pre-Defense Dissertation Meeting
  • Evaluate the candidate’s final dissertation and oral defense

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

All dissertation research involving human subjects requires obtaining human subject clearance from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University. IRB approval must be obtained prior to beginning research on the dissertation. The IRB should be applied for at the beginning of the proposal/prospectus process. Under the direction of the Chair, the student prepares and submits an IRB application. Approval by the IRB is required before a proposal/prospectus can be formally approved by the Graduate School. The IRB number given to the student must be written on the Committee Membership Form before it can be given to the Graduate School. Failure to include the IRB number on the Committee Membership Form will delay the dissertation process. Researchers and major professors need to have completed the IRB ethics tutorial. More information regarding IRB and a link to the ethic tutorial can be found on the Resarch Protections website

Proposal vs. Prospectus

Dependent upon the student’s concentration within the doctoral program and the guidance of the Chair, the student will complete either a proposal or prospectus.

Proposal: Consists of the first three chapters of the dissertation (Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology)
Prospectus: A 25-30 page paper that outlines a proposed study (theoretical, conceptual, or methodological)

Proposal/Prospectus Purpose

The proposal/prospectus demonstrates the student’s ability to articulate:

  • A viable researchable issue
  • Context for the issue
  • Significance of the proposed research
  • Theoretical/conceptual framework that informs the study
  • Literature that informs the researchable issue
  • Methodology for the proposed research

The proposal’s audience is the dissertation committee, the Graduate School, and any member of the faculty at the University.

More Information Regarding the Proposal/Prospectus: