Step 6: Proposal Defense


  • To complete the proposal process by defending your dissertation proposal successfully to your committee.


  • Meet with your committee on Horizon Wimba or in person at the designated time and location that has been prearranged for your seminar.
  • Come prepared to make a detailed presentation of your proposed dissertation project, based on Chapters One and Two of your draft dissertation.
  • Include multimedia presentations where possible (e.g. PowerPoint presentations)
  • Respond to questions from your committee following your summary presentation, to provide your committee with enough evidence of your competency in the areas delineated on the Proposal Defense Competency Review Form.
  • Be prepared to move forward based on the committee's decision at the conclusion of the proposal defense (pass, pass with recommendations, fail).


Due Dates:

  • You should strive to defend your proposal the third year.
  • Should a student not pass any portion of their comprehensive exam, they must take CES 719 each semester until they successfully defend their dissertation proposal. (Handbook pp. 6)

John's Experience:

John arrives on time to his proposal defense seminar, nervous but confident that he's done what he needed to do to get to this point. He presents his defense, utilizing a PowerPoint show, and then answers his committee members' questions. He was well-organized and prepared to answer questions, and he wrote down everything the committee said so he could incorporate it after the seminar.

Watch as John demonstrates how to succeed - and fail - at your proposal defense. View high bandwidth | low bandwidth

Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Don't wait until the last minute to give your committee a copy of your proposal manuscript.
  • Don't expect your committee to carry the lead during the seminar; you're responsible for explaining your dissertation proposal.
  • Don't take constructive criticism personally.
  • Don't be disorganized; be ready to put your hands on information that's material to your presentation.