Thesis Proposal Exam

The thesis proposal examination typically takes place 1-2 years after passing the Preliminary Oral Examination, and at least 6 months prior to the Final Doctoral Oral Exam. The recommended time between the Thesis Proposal Exam and Final Thesis Defense is at least 1 year, however, this is not a hard requirement. If the time between the Thesis Proposal Exam and Final Thesis Defense is less than 6 months, consent is required from all committee members to proceed on this timeline prior to the scheduling of the oral exam.

The Thesis Proposal Examination is organized around a presentation of thesis proposal material. The examination may also test the full range of a student's expertise in a given subject area to evaluate his or her preparation for thesis research and the suitability of a thesis research plan. The thesis proposal should be a self-contained document providing an overview of the student’s research topic and its objective(s), prior related work, the work that the student has already completed, and the work that is being planned for the remainder of the studies. The suggested length of the thesis proposal is 25-50 pages in a format meeting the university's thesis formatting guidelines and should be provided to the committee at least a week prior to the exam.


Committee members for the thesis proposal exam are usually the same as the Preliminary Oral Examination Committee, however, changes are allowed. The committee for the thesis proposal exam should follow the policies in place for the OPE. The student, in consultation with her/his advisor, should review their committee and consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator to ensure that any committee changes align with relevant department policies prior to the Thesis Proposal Examination.

Once a student's committee is finalized, the student must complete the Thesis Proposal Examination Reporting Form. The Thesis Proposal Examination is internally administered and a Thesis Proposal Examination Report Form will be generated and sent to the student electronically after submitting their committee through the online portal. The Thesis Proposal Examination Report Form must be completed immediately after the exam and submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator with all signatures within 24 hours of the examination. If you can not meet this timeline, you must contact right away.

Outcome of the Examination

Committee members may vote to pass, pass with reservations, or fail a student taking the Thesis Proposal Examination. At least three passing votes are required to pass the exam. Students who fail the examination may be terminated or may be allowed, upon the unanimous recommendation of the committee, to retake the examination. No more than one reexamination is allowed and the reexamination committee must consist of the same committee members. For more information about the Thesis Proposal Examination, please speak with your advisor or the Graduate Program Coordinator