The dissertation prospectus is a proposed plan for your doctoral research. It will be reviewed by your committee, who will provide constructive feedback to help shape your research plan.

Timeline for Prospectus Defense

You must defend your prospectus to your committee within three months of passing the preliminary examination, but no later than June 30 of your third year of graduate study.

Process When Prospectus Defense Deadline is Missed

Unless the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) grants an exception due to extraordinary circumstances, such as a medical or family emergency, the need to master a difficult language, or the need to complete a master's program in another field, you must successfully defend your prospectus by June 30 in the third year of your graduate study. If you fail to do so, the DGS is required to notify the Graduate School that you are not making satisfactory progress toward completion of your degree and will recommend that all financial support be halted, with the exception of insurance premiums for your Duke health insurance.

If you are granted an extraordinary exemption, you should be aware that you will not receive an extension in the commitment of five years of funding as a doctoral student. Halting the financial aid will take place in accordance with Graduate School rules. If you subsequently and by June 30 of the fourth year of graduate study successfully defend your prospectus, you may ask the DGS to certify your satisfactory progress towards completion of your degree. Then, after confirming prospectus defense was successful, the Graduate School can recommence the disbursement of financial support beginning the first month of the next regular semester (either September or January). If you do not successfully defend your prospectus by June 30 of the fourth year of study and the DGS has not granted you an exception due to extraordinary circumstances, you will be separated from the graduate program.