Dissertation Process

Dissertation Proposal Defense

To demonstrate that he/she is ready to undertake dissertation research, the student must develop and defend a dissertation proposal. The written document must describe the proposed research so that an appropriately informed faculty member—although not necessarily someone who is an expert in the topic—can understand the research proposal. The written proposal document should contain the following:

  • an explanation of the problem and why it is important,
  • a comprehensive literature review that summarizes what is known, or not known, about this or similar problems due to other research investigations, and
  • an outline of the proposed research design and research methods.

A copy of the written document needs to be shared with members of the DAC prior to the scheduling of the proposal defense. All members of the student's DAC must participate in the proposal defense, and it will also be open to other members of the Stevens academic community. 

  • 4 weeks prior to the defense: the HSTM Ph.D. program director should be notified
  • 1-2 weeks prior to the defense: the HSTM faculty and Ph.D. students should be notified

The defense must allow reasonable time for appropriate questions by any person in attendance. Attendees who are not members of the DAC will then be dismissed, and the dissertation advisory committee will decide whether the student's proposal indicates that he/she is ready to do the proposed research successfully or not. A form with the decision will be submitted to the Ph.D. program director.

If the proposal is judged to be inadequate, the student will be based on probation and the student will work with their advisor and committee to develop a revised proposal document. A second proposal defense must be scheduled no later than 12 months after the first defense. 

At least 12 months must ensue between the time of a successful proposal defense and the awarding of the doctoral degree.

Dissertation Defense

A date will be set for a public oral defense of the dissertation in consultation with the student’s advisor and DAC. All students are expected to confer individually with each member of their DAC before the scheduling of the dissertation defense to ensure that the dissertation has met their expectations. At the discretion of the DAC, the candidate may also be asked to conduct a meeting with the DAC alone, prior to conducting the public defense. The final dissertation document must be made available to the DAC at least four weeks prior to the actual scheduled defense

The public defense must be scheduled through the office of the Dean of Graduate Academics, at least two weeks prior to its administration. It must also be scheduled at least 90 days before the expected commencement date, and it must take place at least two weeks before the commencement. 

Stevens Ph.D. policy also requires the following:

  • Within two weeks after the beginning of the semester in which the student expects to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree, students are required to file an application for the degree with the Registrar's Office via the HSTM Ph.D. program committee.

Beginning with PhD students accepted for the 2011 Fall semester, the application will only be approved if the following prerequisites are also fulfilled:

  • one (1) accepted peer reviewed journal article (typically as a coauthor)
  • one (1) submitted peer reviewed journal article (typically as a coauthor)
  • two (2) refereed conference papers accepted or submitted

To pass the defense, a degree candidate must have a favorable vote from a majority of the DAC.

If a student fails the public defense, there must be a lapse of one full semester (15 weeks) before a rescheduling of the defense based on a revised dissertation.  A student is allowed no more than two opportunities to successfully defend the dissertation.  

Dissertation Committee

The student’s dissertation advisor will consult with the student about nominees for the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC).  The DAC is composed of at least four persons, one of whom must be a Stevens professor from a school other than the candidate’s school. It is also permissible and desirable to have as a committee member an academically qualified person from outside Stevens. The chair, and one of two co-chairs, must be a tenured or tenure track professor.

A Dissertation Advisory Committee Appointment form is completed and submitted by the dissertation advisor to the director of the Ph.D. program for approval.

The students must meet at least once a year with all members of their DAC and include this is their progress reports (Howe School Ph.D. progress report and DAR).

Publication of Dissertation

After the dissertation is accepted, the student and his or her Research Advisor are urged if not already don so to prepare a manuscript for publication.


In accordance with the Ph.D. program committee, the faculty have the right to request exceptions to any of the rules and procedures described above, in order to promote and preserve the effectiveness of the Ph.D. program and to ensure each student's effective progress through the program.