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Dissertation

The dissertation is a launching point for your career in academics. It is your opportunity to develop expertise in a particular domain of study, master particular research methods, and contribute new knowledge to the educational community. For many students, it is the first step in developing a research program.

  1. Work with your advisor to select a topic and to complete an acceptable proposal.
  2. Make sure that you are familiar with the Graduate School requirements (see the Thesis and Dissertation Manual) for the format of your proposal. APA format is required, but there are a few Graduate School requirements that supersede APA.
  3. Your advisor will decide when your proposal is ready to be read by the rest of your committee. Note: There is no official Graduate School Form to schedule a dissertation proposal meeting. This is done at the discretion of the committee.
  4. Signatures of the entire dissertation committee are required on the proposal.
  5. Your advisor may expect you to schedule a committee meeting to defend your proposal.
  6. Submit your proposal with IRB application (see below) to the Graduate School.

Nearly all research requires approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). You may not collect data until your IRB application is approved.

IRB approval may not be necessary if your data come from the undergraduate participant pool in the School of Psychological Sciences. See information about the Psychology Participant Pool to learn more.

Along with your proposal, submit an IRB Application to the Graduate School following the steps outlined on IRB.net. Your advisor can help with the IRB application.

Make sure that you are familiar with the Graduate School requirements (see the Thesis and Dissertation Manual) for the format of your dissertation. APA format is required, but there are a few Graduate School requirements that supersede APA.

Work with your advisor to complete an acceptable dissertation. Your advisor will decide when your dissertation is ready to be read by the rest of your committee.

  1. Make sure you know the Graduate School deadline for holding an oral defense.
  2. Work with your advisor and the rest of your committee to find a two-hour meeting time and location. See the graduate program administrative assistant to schedule a room.
  3. Complete the Request to Schedule a Doctoral Exam form. It requires your advisor’s signature.  This is the same form that you filled out to schedule your oral comprehensive exam.
    The time and location of your oral defense will be published by the Graduate School.
  4. Provide a copy of your written dissertation to each of your committee members. Your committee will need at least two weeks to review your dissertation prior to the oral defense.
  5. The goal of the oral defense meeting is for you to defend your written dissertation.
    Before the defense, meet with your advisor to review the expectations for this meeting.
  6. Bring signature sheets to your defense.
  7. At the end of this meeting, you will be asked to step outside the room while your committee discusses your performance. A decision will be made as to whether you pass, pass with conditions, or do not pass your oral dissertation defense. (It is typical for corrections and revisions to be made to the document after the defense.)
  8. Turn in your final dissertation to the Graduate School.

One retake of your defense is permitted. (See the Graduate School policies in the UNC Bulletin.)