The Thesis Proposal

What is a thesis proposal?
The thesis proposal is a precise definition of the intellectual area in which your thesis will be situated. The goal is to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of that area. You will provide a write-up that gives a general description of your research problem to be addressed, an outline of the approach that will be taken, and what you have done so far along this journey. You will also take part in an oral presentation during which you will present the proposed dissertation research, including relevant background material and preliminary research results.  During and after the presentation, the Dissertation Committee will explore the research area with you to determine whether you have completed this phase successfully. The Dissertation Committee will prepare a report on the outcome of the proposal presentation, and a copy of the completed report will be placed in your file.

How do you form a dissertation committee?
Your committee for your thesis proposal is your dissertation committee.  Guidelines for CSE dissertation committee formation are outlined in the CSE graduate program guide and on page 2 of the Dissertation Committee Request Form. Further information may be found on Rackham’s website outlining the requirements for dissertation committees.  The committee must have:

  • At least four members, three of whom are members of the Rackham Graduate Faculty (i.e. primary tenure-track faculty appointments in a Rackham doctoral program), and two of whom are from the doctoral candidate’s home program
  • A sole chair or two co-chairs
  • A cognate member who is familiar with the standards for doctoral research and holds at least a .50 appointment in a Rackham doctoral program, other than the student’s home department/program

If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please reach out to the Graduate Programs Office.

Once you complete the form, ask your advisor to approve and sign.  Once it is signed by your advisor, email it to the CSE Graduate Programs Office for CSE Graduate Committee consideration.  If approved, the dissertation committee will be submitted to Rackham for final approval.

How do you update your dissertation committee?
If you at any time need to update the configuration of your committee, please submit a new Dissertation Committee Request Form to the Graduate Programs Office with the updates to your committee so that it can be submitted to Rackham for approval.

What do you bring to the thesis proposal?  What do you do after?
You will bring the thesis proposal form to your thesis proposal.  You will fill out the form with information about your committee.  After you have completed the oral presentation, your advisor will enter the outcome, sign on behalf of the committee (if all are in agreement), and email the form as a .pdf attachment to [email protected].