Appendix 2

Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines 

Scope and Purpose of the Dissertation 
The doctoral dissertation is a lengthy document that results from an extended period of research and writing and that often entails application of knowledge to a new or previously uncharted area of scholarship or the use of innovative methodology.

Academic Integrity
Students must submit their own work. Students are not authorized to use outside editorial services in the writing of the dissertation proposal as well as the dissertation itself.

Dissertation Hours
Enrollment Students may enroll for dissertation hours after the qualifying exams have been completed. The proposal must be completed within two semesters after the student first enrolls in dissertation hours; the dissertation document itself must be defended within three years after the proposal is accepted. Extensions will be considered only through petition to PAHAC and with the support of the major professor.

Use of Humans in Research (IRB)
Any dissertation project using human subjects is required to obtain IRB approval before any data collection may begin.  Information regarding this process may be found here.  IRB approval should be sought immediately after the dissertation proposal has been approved by the PAHAC.

Requirements of Thesis and Dissertation Proposals 

Students usually find that crafting the thesis or dissertation proposal is a lengthy process that requires repeated consultation with the major professor and other committee members. Be sure to plan ahead.

The dissertation proposal must:

  1. Present a clear thesis statement that (a) formulates a main idea; (b) specifies the subordinate elements of this idea; (c) indicates how these subordinate elements relate to one another and to your main idea; (d) indicates the methodologies that you plan to use.
  2. Present a review of the literature that identifies all significant publications relevant to the topic and explains how the argument of the dissertation relates to the arguments of the publications. Students should consult with the faculty advisor for the meaning of "all" and "significant" as appropriate to the proposal.
  3. Describe the research tasks to be accomplished, demonstrate their feasibility (including access to sources, which may include documents, archives, field research sites, interview subjects, or copyright clearances), and present a timeline for their completion.
  4. Present a provisional outline of the complete dissertation as an appendix. The outline should show the estimated length of each chapter.
  5. Show competent use of a citation format appropriate for the scholarship.A style manual will be selected in consultation with the major professor.
  6. Include a list of references and sources with full citations. The list of references should distinguish between types of sources (primary, secondary, etc.) as appropriate to the topic.
  7. Conform to a maximum length: The main body of text, not counting references, appendices, or musical examples, must be no more than twenty double-spaced pages.Proposals must adhere to a standard format: twelve-point type, one-inch margins, black ink, and double spacing.

Submission of Dissertation Proposals

PhD dissertation proposals must be submitted electronically via the College of Music Graduate Studies Canvas portal by the end of the eleventh week of each long semester. Immediately prior to electronic submission of the dissertation proposal, the signed PhD Dissertation Approval Form must be submitted to Dr. Brian McKee in the College of Music Advising Office. The form may be submitted via email to or in person to Chilton Hall, Room 211-Q. This form certifies all members of the advisory committee have reviewed and approved the proposal. PAHAC membership for 2019-20 is: Kris Chesky, Sajid Surve, and Stephen Austin.

Suggested Resources 

The Research Process
Jacobsen, Kathryn H.  2012.  Introduction to Health Research Methods: A Practical Guide. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Clear writing
Williams, Joseph M. 1995. Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bailey, Stephen. 2011. Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. New York: Routledge.

Paltridge, Brian, and Sue Starfield. Thesis and Dissertation Writing in a Second Language: A Handbook for Supervisors. New York: Routledge, 2007