Dissertation Proposal

Doctoral Research Guide, Step 3 of 4

Your dissertation proposal is essentially the first three sections of your dissertation: introduction, review of literature, and research design. You will be required to defend it during a meeting with your dissertation committee. You should expect to discuss the dissertation proposal in detail, justify your research questions and methods, and be prepared to defend these in contrast to other research approaches. After your dissertation proposal defense, your committee will assist you in developing a realistic timetable for completion of your research.

If your dissertation research will involve human subjects, you will need to obtain approval from the DePaul University Institutional Review Board (IRB) before collecting data.

Next Step: Dissertation
Previous Step: Candidacy

Best Practices

Keep in mind that the IRB process can be lengthy. On average, it takes two months to get IRB approval, but in some cases, it can take 6-7 months.

Select a research article on which to model your dissertation proposal. A well-written article can provide a good template for style, formatting and content.

Register for A&S/CS/ECE 700 if all of your coursework is complete but you are not ready to defend your dissertation proposal. Enrollment in the A&S/CS/ECE 700: Student in Good Standing course will ensure library and other university privileges and prevent you from being discontinued from the program. Information on this course is located on pages 10 and 13 of the EdD Program Student Handbook.

Take a copy of the Dissertation Proposal Approval form to your defense meeting. You will need to obtain signatures from all committee members if they approve your dissertation proposal.

Write down everything your committee members say at your dissertation proposal defense. Their feedback will help you write a better dissertation and be prepared to defend it.


Obtain Institutional Review Board approval if your research involves human subjects. An FAQ regarding IRB proposals can be found here. Once you have obtained an official approval letter from the IRB, submit it with a copy of the IRB Approval Cover form.

Register for A&S/CS 849 in the quarter in which you plan to defend your dissertation proposal. Submit a Supervised Dissertation Proposal Development Course Request form to the EdD program’s academic advisor at least two weeks before the start of the quarter in which you plan to defend your dissertation proposal. This course needs to be created specifically for you under the name of your dissertation chair, so you will not find it listed in Campus Connect. Instead, once the form has been submitted, the academic advisor will create the course and enroll you in it.

Schedule your dissertation proposal defense meeting. When your chair has decided that your dissertation proposal is ready for defense, determine a time that all of your committee members can meet, and ask the EdD program assistant to reserve a room at that time.

Distribute your dissertation proposal to your committee members for their review. Send a copy of your dissertation proposal to the members of your committee at least two weeks in advance.

Related Forms

Supervised Dissertation Proposal Development Course Request
IRB Approval Cover
Student in Good Standing Course Request
Dissertation Proposal Approval