Proficiency in significant original research, a major requirement for the Ph.D., is demonstrated chiefly in the dissertation. Students are encouraged to look beyond the dissertation to its publication.
After passing the qualifying examination, the candidate files two copies of the dissertation prospectus, revised if necessary, with the department and submits a special form called "Notice of Title, Scope, and Procedure of Dissertation," to the Graduate School. The student should also register the thesis in progress with the American Historical Association.
The dissertation advisory committee consists of three faculty members. The faculty member supervising the dissertation (who must be an associate or full professor) is the first reader and chair. The student and first reader select appropriate faculty members to serve as second and third readers on the student’s dissertation advisory committee.
The committee chair should report the names of the committee to the Graduate Committee. The student should also look ahead to the final oral defense of the dissertation. The oral examination committee consists of the dissertation advisory committee, the chair of the history department (ex officio), and two faculty members of other departments formally designated by the Dean.
The student, who may still serve as a TA or receive other grants, is expected to work diligently in dissertation research and writing and to keep the dissertation supervisor informed of progress in a formal conference at least once every semester. Individual supervisors may require more frequent conferences.
The dissertation writer should also to stay in contact with other members of the advisory committee. Furthermore, the candidate should take part in the Dissertation Writers' Workshop, attend the annual Graduate Colloquium, participate in mock job interviews and presentations, and other social gatherings of the department.