Higher Education
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Steps in Proposal Approval

Students must complete a dissertation proposal before they begin work on the dissertation itself.

Under the guidance of the chair, you prepare a written proposal. The proposal details the nature of your dissertation project and specifies how it will make a contribution to theory and/or practice.

You should have a completed, signed proposal one academic year from the first 998 registration date. This achievement facilitates timely research and writing progress.

Prior to Proposal Registration

In order to register for HE 998/Dissertation Proposal, you must have the following:

  • All course work completed
  • A signed program of study
  • Completed, signed transfer of credit form (including Mason courses taken in nondegree status (extended studies))
  • One internship completed and report filed
  • A chairperson to direct your progress in the proposal writing process

Registration for HE 998/Proposal (3 credits)

You register for HE 998 with your dissertation chair, who will provide you with the CRN code that is required for registration.

Proposal Format

The following outline is suggested as the basic format of the proposal.

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Background, literature review
  • Statement of the problem
  • Hypotheses and research questions, where appropriate
  • Research design and methodology
  • Implications for theory or practice
  • Limitations
  • Bibliography or references

Proposal Submission

You submit copies of the proposal to the committee chair for distribution to the committee members. The committee has three options.

  • To accept the proposal as is
  • To accept the proposal with modifications
  • To require you to rewrite the proposal and defend the revised proposal at a later date

You may be asked to defend the proposal orally before the committee. Three attempts to defend the proposal are permitted. If the proposal is rejected for a third time, you will be ineligible to continue in the program.

Proposal Overview Meeting

Students at the proposal stage must organize a meeting of all committee members to discuss the proposal and its components; revise the proposal according to the recommendations of the dissertation chair and committee for approval; print 2 copies of the proposal signature sheet and bring them to the overview meeting for committee signatures.

Once you have an approved proposal, you are eligible to be advanced to candidacy. See link to left for more information.

Proposal Grading

Final grading for the proposal HE 998 is "S" (Satisfactory).

A grade of "IP" (In Progress) is assigned each semester until the proposal has been approved. At that time the grade for all semesters is changed to "S.”

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