School of Journalism > Graduate Programs in Journalism > Tracking Progress in the Doctoral Program

Tracking Progress in the Doctoral Program

Student progress is monitored by the graduate adviser and GSC. Students meet with the graduate adviser prior to the registration period as the student progresses through the doctoral program. Orderly progress through the doctoral program is in four steps:

  • Submission and approval of the doctoral program of work,
  • Comprehensive examinations and advancement to doctoral candidacy,
  • The dissertation proposal meeting and
  • Completion and oral defense of the dissertation.

Students are expected to be familiar with the Graduate School policies as well. Please refer to the graduate catalog at

Doctoral Program of Work

In the third semester of doctoral work (in the second semester for doctoral students who have completed their master's programs within the School of Journalism) all students will file a program of work listing courses completed in the four areas, courses proposed for the remainder of the program, and a brief description of the proposed dissertation. Students prepare the program of work with the assistance of the graduate adviser and a graduate faculty member whom the student expects to supervise the dissertation. The program of work will be approved or modified by a subcommittee of the graduate faculty. Minor amendments to the program of work must be approved by the supervising faculty member and signed off by the graduate adviser. Substantial amendments to the program of work must be approved by the supervisor and graduate adviser and be re-submitted to the GSC subcommittee for approval. 

Comprehensive Examinations and Advancement to Candidacy

Doctoral students are expected to pass a series of comprehensive examinations in the four areas of concentration no later than one semester after completion of their approved coursework. The examination committee is chaired by the faculty member who is the anticipated dissertation supervisor. At least one member (with a limit of two) must be from a graduate faculty other than Journalism. Written examinations are followed by an oral examination. For additional information, please see the graduate student handbook at

After successful completion of the oral examination, the student applies for candidacy.

As part of the application, the student must designate a dissertation committee. The committee will include at least five members. Additional requirements and details are listed at the link above. Students must schedule comps through the graduate coordinator.

Dissertation Proposal Meeting

No later than the end of the semester following advancement to candidacy, a student submits a proposal to the dissertation committee for advice and approval. Although the length of the proposal may vary, it includes a problem statement, literature review, proposed research questions or hypotheses, proposed methodology and plan of analysis, instrument such as questionnaire, codebook or stimuli, and bibliography. The supervisor who advises the student as to the nature and scope of the proposal, approves it before the student submits it to the other committee members at least two weeks before the meeting. The supervisor chairs the proposal meeting. Students must schedule the proposal meeting through the graduate coordinator.

Dissertation and Final Oral Defense

At all stages of dissertation research and writing, the student is expected to work closely with the dissertation supervisor. The supervisor makes recommendations about the degree of consultation expected of other members of the dissertation committee. Once a supervisor has approved a draft of the dissertation, it is submitted to committee members at least 30 days prior to the date of the oral examination. A Request for Oral Examination form is signed by all members of the dissertation committee and the graduate adviser at least 14 days prior to the date of the oral examination. Forms and deadlines are posted on the Graduate School website.

The oral defense is an open meeting; dates and locations of oral examinations are posted on the Graduate School web site. Deliberations by members of the committee, however, are closed. Following the defense, the committee approves, rejects or calls for revisions of the dissertation. If the student has been working closely with the committee, there are usually no surprises when the dissertation is completed and approved.