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Your charge is to write a dissertation proposal in the area of "TOPIC", with the aim of GOALS/EXPLANATION. The proposal should be no more than 20 pages long, exclusive of references. Thus, you will not have space to relate everything you know or plan--you must choose the details carefully to convey the key ideas. The document should contain at least the following parts (in an order determined by you):


Statement of the problem, with motivation. Background about the overall area. A thesis statement. Hypothesis and/or goals. Key technical ideas. Likely contributions of the work.

Related work

This section will be around half of the report. Discuss foundational work upon which yours builds, as well as alternate approaches to the problem. Critically evaluate that work, beyond its own claims. Discuss themes in the literature, so that a reader gets an overview of the whole field rather than a mere list of previous results. Relate previous work to one another and to your approach. Explain what is different about your approach and why others have not attempted it before.

Proposed work

Describe the main challenges and innovations that are needed to accomplish the proposed hypotheses, with as much description as possible of how you will tackle each one. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your approach, including what it can and cannot do. Describe methodology for evaluating whether your ideas work or your hypotheses are correct. Indicate whether each part of the work is complete or remains to be done. For work you have already completed, give only a brief summary. For work that remains to be done, give a more detailed plan, including any major risks, sufficient for an outsider to evaluate its chances of success. The proposal should be concrete enough that the committee can evaluate whether it would make a good dissertation. Furthermore, when you wish to graduate, the proposal will provide guidance to both you and the committee regarding whether you have completed the promised work. (Plans can and do change, and all parties will take account of that as appropriate.)


Contributions or discussions, as appropriate. Scoping: future work that will not be covered in the dissertation research.

The committee will evaluate whether you are prepared to proceed to writing your dissertation. In doing this evaluation, we will ask ourselves: Are the proposed hypotheses significant and novel? Are the proposed evaluation methods capable of demonstrating the hypothesis? Is the scope of the work needed to complete the thesis plausible to be completed within the next year? What likelihood do you have of completing a successful thesis within the next year (with regard to scope of remaining work and risks, for example?) Does the related work demonstrate the mastery of the research area? Is the related work and the comparison to the proposed work accurately represented? Are the student's writing and presentation skills adequate?

We look forward to seeing your work!