The culmination of the student’s studies is the Ph.D. Dissertation. The student should carefully select an advisor or two co-advisors (at least one of them a member of the Comparative Literature Department), who would agree to direct the dissertation.  Candidates for the degree must submit a dissertation prospectus for approval to the department no later than the sixth semester of study. Usually, after passing their qualifying examinations in December, students begin work on the prospectus in January. Preliminary prospectuses should be ready for submission to advisers by the end of Spring Break (mid-March), with the goal of submitting the prospectus to the department’s prospectus committee by 1 April. Prospectus conferences will typically be scheduled for late April/early May.


The Prospectus should normally run between 10 and 12 double-spaced pages and should not exceed 15. It should open with a brief description and abstract of the project, describing the expected scholarly contribution and the corpus of texts to be included in the research. The body of the prospectus should include an account of anticipated chapters and their relationship to the argument as a whole. A selected bibliography of primary and secondary sources should be appended. The Prospectus must also include the traditional formulaic sentences at its beginning and end. Past prospectuses are available in the department office as examples. The department understands that the dissertation may shift focus radically once dissertation research and writing begin; nonetheless it is helpful to summarize the probable or possible shape of the project and to get faculty feedback. 


The student should submit the prospectus to their prospective advisors, revise as necessary, and then submit it to the Graduate Registrar with the scheduled date of the  Prospectus conference. This is not an examination, something to be dreaded or approach as an adversarial occasion. Instead, this informal, hour-long discussion between the student and the department’s standing committee (usually three faculty) plus prospective advisors (if available, and there largely as observers) is intended to be a constructive brainstorming session about the project; faculty may point out further primary or theoretical texts that might be relevant, suggest the scope of the project be narrowed or expanded, and discuss methodology and organization.

At the end of the hour, faculty will decide either to pass the prospectus as is, or ask the student to submit a further draft (generally without necessitating a further live meeting). On the final approval of the prospectus, the student will be advanced to candidacy for the degree. Successful completion of orals and the prospectus triggers the awarding of the MPhil degree.