The Dissertation Prospectus

The Prospectus should be prepared in accordance with UTC formatting/APA style guidelines and should include a committee page similar to the committee page for the Dissertation, as shown in the Thesis and Dissertation Standards (link: Thesis and Dissertation). The Dissertation Prospectus should also include a Title page which replaces the word “Dissertation” with “Prospectus.”

This Prospectus document should include the following components:

  • Introduction and Background to the Problem
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Research Questions/Hypotheses and Sub-hypotheses
  • Rationale for the Study
  • Theoretical/Conceptual Framework
  • Significance/Importance of the Study (may overlap with the rationale)
  • Definition of Terms (largely conceptual); operational definitions may follow in the methodology section
  • Methodological Assumptions
  • Delimitations of the Study (narrowing the focus)
  • Limitations of the Study (factors beyond the researcher’s control)
  • Review of Literature (This review should focus on identifying the main works to support the dissertation without getting into excessive details. The main idea here is to set the stage for the full-blown literature review in chapter two of the dissertation, or in the case of a qualitative study, the review may be spread over several chapters)
  • Description of the Population and Sample
  • Overview of Methodology to include Research Design and Procedures with attention to Validity issues

While similar headings and subheadings are appropriate, there is no need for Chapter organization at this time. The Prospectus document should be between 20 - 30 pages in length including the list of References and any short Appendices. The Chair assists the candidate in developing a Prospectus with input from the Dissertation committee, if desired.

Defense and Approval of the Dissertation Prospectus

The Prospectus defense serves as an opportunity for the candidate to share with the committee the foundational elements of the proposed study and demonstrate the need and preliminary direction of the dissertation. The format of the Prospectus defense is discussion based – a PowerPoint presentation should not be used at this early stage in the process. The Dissertation Chair will determine when the Prospectus is ready for review by the committee. The Chair provides the committee with the draft Prospectus at least 14 days prior to the Prospectus defense. The Chair will then contact the committee to set a Prospectus defense date and time. Once the date and time have been established, the Chair will notify the Program Office ( The Program Office will reserve a meeting location, distribute appointment invites, and confirm any needed technology services.

  • If upon completion of the Prospectus defense, the Prospectus is not ready for approval, the Chair will notify the Program Office ( to hold the Examination Results Form. The candidate will work with the Chair to complete the Prospectus based upon the committee’s feedback, and another defense meeting will be convened within a time frame agreed upon by the Dissertation Committee.
  • If there are revisions needed for the Prospectus, the Chair will notify the Program Office ( to hold the Examination Results Form. Once the requested revisions have been made and approved, the Chair will submit a copy of the manuscript to the Program Office and request circulation of the Examination Results Form.
  • If the Prospectus is approved (with no revisions), the Chair will submit a copy of the manuscript to the Program Office ( and request that the Program Office circulate the Examination Results Form for digital signatures from each committee member and the Program Director/Advisor. 

Once the Prospectus has been approved by the committee and the Program Director/Advisor, the candidate is ready to proceed with the Dissertation Proposal.