The Doctoral Dissertation:
Serious work on the dissertation should begin no later than the third full-time semester of study for the Ph.D. and well before the scheduling of the comprehensive examination. When selecting a topic, the student first should make sure that an advisor exists who is able and willing to supervise on that subject. Then, usually in close consultation with this advisor, a proposal is developed to articulate the research idea for the rest of the examination committee. The advisor also serves as chair of this committee.
The dissertation committee, consisting of the advisor and at least four others, is designated immediately following the passing of the comprehensive examination and is usually comprised of members of the examination committee. This committee must include at least one member from a KU department outside of geography and must have at least two members from Geography. Committee members must be approved by the GSC and recommended to the Graduate School.
After successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student is officially admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree (prior to this stage, the student is a Ph.D. aspirant). By passing to the candidacy stage, the examination committee records its view that this person has a satisfactory dissertation proposal as well as the capability to complete the proposed task of research and writing. Although formal coursework is finished at this point, continued scholarly and professional development obligates the candidate to continue attendance at special-interest seminars and colloquia while still in residence.
After passing the comprehensive oral examination, every student must be continuously enrolled, including summer sessions, from the time of candidacy until the dissertation is deposited at the Graduate School office. The Graduate School further stipulates that a minimum enrollment of six hours is required each semester (plus three in summer) until a total of eighteen is achieved. Thereafter the enrollment may be dropped to one hour per semester, assuming that the dissertation is deposited in the Graduate School office within six months after the defense. Students who exceed this six-month limit must enroll in three hours per semester until the dissertation is so deposited.
When the dissertation committee has tentatively approved the dissertation, approval is sought from the Graduate Studies Committee to schedule the final oral defense. At least five months must elapse between the successful completion of the comprehensive examination and the date of this oral defense. The final oral defense committee has the same composition requirements as does the dissertation committee. Approval of the Graduate School must be secured for the scheduling of this exam and the request must be submitted to the GSC three weeks prior to the proposed date for the examination. Submission procedures for the dissertation are described elsewhere in this booklet.
When the final oral defense has been passed and the dissertation completed, both electronic and hardbound copies need to be prepared. Both should include an abstract of no more than 150 words. A hardbound copy ( 8 ½” x 11”) is required for the department. The KU Libraries recommend the following binders that can bind paper copies of your thesis and additionally offer print-from-electronic file services: 1) Heckman Bindery or 2) Acme Bookbinding. Bound copies can also be obtained through UMI Dissertation Publishing. The student must turn in a receipt showing that arrangements have been made for such work prior to the deadline for graduation set by the Graduate School. It is also customary for the student to provide a bound copy for the advisor.
The dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School and UMI Dissertation Publishing electronically using Portable Document Format (PDF). Instructions for this process are available at the KU graduate school website. See also UMI’s website. In addition to this electronic submittal, a student must submit a paper copy of the title page and an “acceptance page” with original signatures to the College Graduate Studies Office in 102 Strong Hall. Formats for both of these are at the graduate school website. A copy of the title page should also be turned in to the Geography office.
The Graduate School has established a maximum time limit of eight years between initial enrollment in the doctoral program and completion of all degree requirements. For people earning both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from KU, the combined time limit is ten years.