Dissertation and Admission to Candidacy


The dissertation element of the degree has four requirements:

  • Approved prospectus defense
  • Completed 24 dissertation hours
  • Completed and submitted dissertation
  • Successful dissertation defense

Admission to Candidacy

Following completion of the comprehensive exams, an Admission to Candidacy form is sent to the Registrar’s Office and the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree. At this stage, the student is eligible to register for dissertation credit hours (at least 24 dissertation credit hours are required). The University requires a minimum period of six months between admission to candidacy and granting of the degree. However, it is extremely rare for a student to complete a dissertation within such a short time frame. Most students take a year or longer to complete a dissertation.

Prospectus Defense

After being admitted to candidacy, students focus primarily on their dissertation. The major professor and supervisory committee assume major roles in helping students define an acceptable project and follow through on its completion. The College requires that doctoral candidates prepare a dissertation prospectus that will enable the committee to determine if the project is acceptable. The prospectus defense is a special meeting of the doctoral student and doctoral committee members. During this session, the group strives to reach consensus regarding the proposal and study methodology. If the prospectus is approved, the student may move ahead with the study as described, subject to any changes the committee may request. Once the student has satisfactorily defended the prospectus, the dissertation director, committee members, and dean will sign the Prospectus Defense Form, which will be put in the student’s file. Students may not proceed with dissertation research until the prospectus has been approved by the committee. The student’s committee members determine the exact parameters of the prospectus. Generally, the prospectus includes a problem statement and introduction, a literature review, and the research methods to be used. Dissertation and Dissertation Defense Doctoral students are required to complete at least 24 dissertation credits while working on a dissertation. Students are expected to register for several credits during each semester in which they are completing work associated with the dissertation. Until the dissertation is completed, students must register for at least 2 dissertation credits each semester, even after they have completed the University minimum of 24 credits. Generally, the candidate works most closely with his/her dissertation advisor/ major professor, although regular contact is expected with other committee members as well. Once the dissertation is judged acceptable by the major professor, the student schedules a formal dissertation defense date. The University requires that the student provide all participating faculty members with a copy of the dissertation at least four weeks before the scheduled defense date. The student will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork with the Graduate School for their defense announcement at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense. The defense is open to anyone in the University, and students should expect that some strangers might be present. Doctoral theses must be presented in an acceptable form before they will receive clearance from the University. The submission process and formatting requirements for electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) are outlined in the Guidelines and Requirements for Theses, Treatises, and Dissertations. All students must submit their thesis, treatise, or dissertation electronically For more information on ETDs at FSU, visit the FSU Library’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation website. University deadlines for submission of the final document are established for each academic semester and must be met or graduation will be delayed.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Students are reminded to seek IRB approval prior to commencing any research involving human subjects. The student’s name must appear on the approval form as a PI or co-PI for the period of time when the student’s research was conducted. Failure to obtain the required approvals may result in the dissertation being permanently embargoes and unpublishable in any form.

Electronic Submission of the Dissertation

The dissertation must be submitted electronically. All dissertations will be published by microfilm under the plan provided by University Microfilms International (UMI), and the abstracts will be published and distributed in Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI). A charge is paid by the candidate at the Office of Student Financial Services for payment to UMI. Microfilming does not preclude later publication. If a dissertation writer so desires, copyright may be obtained through UMI by indicating choice of copyright on the first page of the agreement form, signing the copyright line on the back of the agreement form, and paying a fee to the Office of Student Financial Services.

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