Student & Career Services

Biodefense 998: Dissertation Proposal

How to Register for BIOD 998

    • Open to PhD students only.
    • Pass the Doctoral Qualifying Exam in the previous semester.
    • Have an approved Program of Study in your departmental file.
    • Finish coursework.
    • Form a doctoral dissertation committee.
    • Students should have their dissertation committee approved before registering for BIOD 998, Dissertation Proposal. The student submits the Committee Approval Form to the Graduate Coordinator. The form can be downloaded here. The Graduate Coordinator will then give the student a CRN# so that the student can register. The CRN # for BIOD 998 will be different each semester. The student should request this CRN# from the Graduate Coordinator no later than 2 weeks before the start of classes for the semester.
  • Register for multiple semesters of 998.
    This depends upon how far along you are on committee formation and topic choice. Six to nine credits of proposal in total are recommended for Biodefense students. Each semester’s registration should reflect what is outlined in your Program of Study regarding the number of credits and the semesters. Check the university catalog for the term you were admitted for further information.
  • Maintain continuous registration in BIOD 998 (or BIOD 999) each semester until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Library.
  • Work closely with your committee.
    You should meet with each member a minimum of two times each semester. The credits for each semester are not complete until your full committee has approved your written proposal, and it has passed a review by the program director, department Chair, and Dean. In the meantime, you will receive grades of “IP” for “In Progress.”
  • Schedule a proposal defense with your committee. Defenses must be scheduled at least 2 weeks prior to the last day of classes for the semester or students will have to defend the next term. Please let the Academic Coordinator know as soon as possible during the term you plan to defend your proposal.
    All committee members are to attend the proposal defense. Once your committee approves your proposal, get their signatures on the Proposal Approval form, and send or bring both the signed form and the final approved proposal to the PIA office, attention Biodefense Program Coordinator (room 201, Robinson-A bldg., Fairfax campus). The coordinator will pass these on to the program director and to the department chair. If they approve, the coordinator will forward the form and proposal to the Dean’s office for review and approval. *All paperwork must be in to the Academic Coordinator at least 1 week prior to the last day of classes for the term.
  • After Dean approval, your dissertation director will post an “S” (Satisfactory) grade for the current semester and change your previous IP grades to S.
  • Dissertation proposal must be approved in writing by all committee members in the semester prior to the semester you wish to register for Dissertation Research (BIOD 999) credits.
    You will not be able to have your proposal approved and begin 999 credits in the same semester.

Guidelines for Dissertation Proposals

Students may use one of the following formats. Any use of human subjects (surveys, polls, etc.) must first be approved by the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance at George Mason University.

Sections of a dissertation proposal: (City University of New York)

  • A clear statement of the problem; background to the problem; identification of the research question.
  • A critical literature review, often in several relevant areas.
  • A clear statement and exposition of the research questions, hypotheses, or issues to be pursued.
  • A detailed description of various research methods, instruments to be used, procedures to be followed, and the kind of data analysis that is planned.
  • Agreements with participating institutions, consent forms for participants, and approval from the GC Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects.

Sections of a dissertation proposal: (Emory University)

  • Introduction and Theoretical Framework
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Review of the Literature
  • Questions and/or Hypotheses
  • The Design–Methods and Procedures
  • Limitations and Delimitations
  • Significance of the Study
  • References
  • Appendixes

Sections of a dissertation proposal: (Institute of international Studies, UMN)

  • Theory
  • The research question
  • Research design
  • Background and history
  • Timeline
  • Budgeting
  • Concepts and terminology (with bibliography)
  • Appendices

Sections of a dissertation: David R. Krathwohl and Nick L. Smith, How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Student in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005), p. 6.

  • Problem Statement
  • Literature Review
  • Method Statement
  • Study Results
  • Interpretation and Conclusions

Hint: A good dissertation proposal will do most of the first 3 for you!

Characteristics of a Good Dissertation Topic

Topic Importance

  • Is relevant to a larger, significant problem, but is conceptually bounded
  • Is focused but not trivial
  • Reflects a creative or original perspective
  • Has important practical implications
  • Has important methodological implications
  • Is acceptable within my academic or professional field

Personal Match

  • Reflects a strong personal interest
  • Will promote my academic and career interests
  • Is of interest to potential dissertation chairpersons and committee members
  • Is acceptable within my academic department and school

Operational Feasibility

  • Is a good fit with knowledge and skills I have or can acquire
  • Is a good fit with the resources I have or can acquire
  • Can effectively build on prior personal and professional experience with possible methods
  • Can be developed into a manageable study
  • Can be investigated in an ethical manner

Source: David R. Krathwohl, and Nick L. Smith, How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005), pp.69-70.
Reprinted with permission of Syracuse University Press.