Dissertation Process

Dissertation proposal defense

To demonstrate they are ready to undertake dissertation research, students must develop and defend dissertation proposals. The written document must describe the proposed research so that a faculty member 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.
  • An outline of the proposed research design and research methods.

A copy of the written document needs to be shared with members of the dissertation advisory committee prior to the scheduling of the proposal defense. All members of the student's dissertation advisory committee must participate in the proposal defense, and it will also be open to other members of the Stevens academic community. The Ph.D. program director must be notified four weeks prior to the defense; faculty and doctoral students in the School of Business must be notified one to two weeks in advance of the defense.

The defense must allow reasonable time for appropriate questions by any person in attendance. Attendees who are not members of the dissertation advisory committee will then be dismissed, and the committee will decide whether the proposal indicates the student is ready to do the proposed research successfully. 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 will work with an adviser and the committee to develop a revised proposal document. A second proposal defense must be scheduled no later than 12 months after the first defense. 

Dissertation defense

A date will be set for a public oral defense of the dissertation, in consultation with the student’s adviser and dissertation advisory committee. All students are expected to confer individually with each member of their committee before the scheduling of the dissertation defense, to ensure the dissertation has met their expectations. At the discretion of the committee, the candidate may also be asked to conduct a meeting with the committee alone, prior to conducting the public defense. The final dissertation document must be made available to the dissertation advisory committee 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 that, within two weeks after the beginning of the semester in which the student expects to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree, students file an application for the degree with the Registrar's Office via the School of Business Ph.D. program committee. That application will be approved only if the following prerequisites are met:

  • One accepted peer reviewed journal article (typically as a coauthor).
  • One submitted peer reviewed journal article (typically as a coauthor).
  • Two refereed conference papers accepted or submitted.

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

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 adviser 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 outside the School of Business. It is desirable to include an academically qualified committee member from outside Stevens. The chair, and one of two co-chairs, must be a tenured or tenure-track professor.

A DAC appointment form is completed and submitted by the dissertation adviser 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.

Publication of dissertation

After the dissertation is accepted, the student is encouraged 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.