Dissertation Proposal & Defense

After passing the qualifying examination and completing most of the coursework, a student should form a dissertation committee and begin formulating a dissertation proposal.


Dissertation Committee


A student’s dissertation committee must be composed of at least four faculty members, no fewer than three of whom are on the Kellogg School faculty. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the student’s program. From this committee, the student will choose a dissertation chair (or two co-chairs). The committee chair and at least one other member must hold appointments in the student’s program to ensure that half of the committee members represent the student’s program. Once the committee is formed, the dissertation committee (and not the Directors of Graduate Study) monitors progress and provides feedback, led primarily by the dissertation chair (or co-chairs).


Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal outlines and specifies a substantive research project, discusses its significance to the development of knowledge, and explains the research methods to be used. Reporting some results is encouraged, but the proposal should be submitted to the committee before a substantial part of the dissertation research is conducted.

All students must form a dissertation committee and orally present their proposal to the committee by August 31st of their third year. After reviewing the student’s proposal document and taking part in the oral presentation, a student’s committee provides an evaluation of Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail.

Students who earn a Pass on their proposal proceed to their fourth year and become ABD in status. Students who have only Conditionally Passed by August 31st are granted up to four months beyond August 31st to earn a Pass from their committee. Students who reach August 31st without having presented a proposal, or with a failed proposal defense, are granted an extension (again up to four months) only if 2/3rds of department faculty vote in favor (and students granted an extension under these conditions are put on academic probation). Students who fail to earn a Pass on a dissertation proposal by August 31st (or within the allowed extension period) are excluded from the Ph.D. program.

Students should be aware that faculty members travel more frequently during the summer months, which can create challenges for scheduling a defense before the deadline. Thus, students planning to present their proposal during the summer are strongly encouraged to start discussing potential proposal presentation dates with committee members no later than winter of their third year.

Once students form their dissertation committee and schedule a proposal presentation date, they should notify the Marketing Directors of Graduate Studies (DGSs) and the Kellogg Doctoral Program Coordinator in writing.

Students must provide their dissertation committee with a written copy of their dissertation proposal at least two weeks before the scheduled presentation (or earlier, if the committee needs more time). This is a firm requirement, which cannot be waived by the dissertation chair or committee members. If a student does not submit their proposal at least two weeks before the scheduled presentation, the defense is automatically cancelled and must be rescheduled. This requirement ensures that committee members have sufficient time to thoroughly review the document. Dissertation documents must be circulated to the entire dissertation committee and should be in their final draft form (e.g., including the general discussion and references).

These requirements are in addition to any University or Kellogg requirements, which can be found here.

The chair(s) of the Dissertation Committee should announce the proposal presentation to the marketing faculty and Ph.D. students at least two weeks in advance.


Dissertation Defense


A doctoral dissertation is a written document that describes a substantive research project, describes the methods used, presents empirical and/or analytical results, and discusses the significance of the conclusions for the development of knowledge. After submitting their completed dissertation to the dissertation committee, students defend their research during a presentation to the committee. The dissertation should be written up according to University guidelines, which can be found here.

Students must provide their dissertation committee with a written copy of their dissertation at least two weeks before the scheduled dissertation defense (or earlier, if the committee needs more time). This is a firm requirement, which ensures that committee members have sufficient time to thoroughly review the document. Dissertation documents must be circulated to the entire dissertation committee and should be in their final draft form (e.g., including the general discussion and references).

The chair(s) of the Dissertation Committee should announce the dissertation defense to the marketing faculty and Ph.D. students at least two weeks in advance.

Students are strongly advised not to schedule their dissertation defense close to the expected deadline for graduation. This is because it is not uncommon for a dissertation committee to ask for revisions to the dissertation as a condition for approving the dissertation. For example, because students wishing to graduate in June of a given year are usually required to submit all approved materials by May of that year, the dissertation defense should be scheduled well in advance of that deadline.

Once all committee members have approved the dissertation, students submit the document to The Graduate School.