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Collegial Cloud: Milestone 2

The Dissertation Proposal

The Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal includes Chapters 1, 2, and 3, including all instruments or protocols to be used to collect data, consent forms, and appendixes containing additional explanatory material such as figures, models, or diagrams. Students work directly with their dissertation committee chairperson to receive guidance about the structure, revisions, review process, and distribution of each dissertation proposal chapter to their committee members. Several iterations of revisions are to be expected based on committee feedback; developing a coherent, concise, and meaningful dissertation as well as becoming a scholarly writer and researcher is a formative learning experience. Once again, students are strongly encouraged to begin thinking about and identifying a potential research topic and problem to be addressed in a dissertation at an early stage of their engagement in doctoral coursework.

Dissertation Proposal Oral Defense

The dissertation proposal oral defense is a private presentation completed by the candidate to his or her committee members. The presentation is conducted virtually via Microsoft Teams. The oral defense lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes. A dissertation proposal defense may not be scheduled until the entire dissertation committee has determined that the dissertation proposal is ready to be presented. A student and all of his or her committee members must be able to participate in the live defense. Defenses are coordinated by the dissertation chairperson and scheduled by the Coordinator of Doctoral Programs at least two weeks in advance.

Committee members have the following options for the outcome of the defense: (a) pass, (b) pass with revisions, (c) pass pending further review, or (d) fail. The candidate must receive a signed ballot of approval from two out of three of the committee members in order to move forward with the dissertation. Candidates may not submit the dissertation proposal to the CUC Institutional Review Board (IRB) or begin requesting participation or data collection, until the proposal is approved by the committee. If the proposal is approved with revisions by the dissertation committee, the candidate must make the revisions with committee approval prior to submitting the proposal to the CUC IRB. If a candidate fails the defense, he or she must make all committee required revisions and repeat the dissertation proposal defense prior to moving forward with the proposed research. Participation may not be elicited and data collection cannot begin until a candidate’s proposal has been approved by CUC’s IRB.

Candidates are required by federal legislation to submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application to the CUC IRB Office (via and any other school district, institutional, or local IRB approvals that are necessary. Details about the IRB process can be found in CUConnect. Under Resources find Repository and type “IRB” in the Search box. Download and review the documents prepared by the CUC IRB. Upon written and substantiated approval from all necessary IRBs the candidate may begin his or her formal requests for participation and data collection.

Research Tools

The Research Tools Module has been added to a new tab. You can click here to be directed to it.

CUC Dissertation Committee FAQs

NOTE: This section applies to all programs except Health and Human Performance. The equivalent information for Health and Human Performance students is included in the document “HHP Dissertation Committee FAQ”.

Q: How do I get a dissertation committee?

After your Prospectus has been approved in DISS 7010, you may consult the “Eligible Dissertation Committee Members” spreadsheet under the “Milestone 1” tab of the Collegial Cloud. You are responsible for inviting potential committee members to work with you as a Chair, Reader, or Methodologist on your committee. You may invite outside members to participate, but you must obtain approval for all such appointments through the Doctoral Programs office. Health and Human Performance students must select a Health and Human Performance faculty member as their chairperson (there is no similar requirement for other programs). If you get stuck, the Doctoral Programs office will help you.

Email your Prospectus to potential committee members to explore possible matches for faculty who are eligible to serve on your committee.

Q: Who is on a dissertation committee?

The dissertation committee consists of three terminal degree holding (e.g. PhD, EdD, DBA, PsyD) individuals who will review your work and guide you to complete the dissertation.

The committee offers multiple sources of expertise. Dissertation committees are composed of a chairperson, a methodologist and a reader/content expert. 

  • The chairperson is responsible for directing all aspects of the dissertation process and is always your first point of contact in each phase of the dissertation completion. The chairperson is responsible for communicating with and coordinating the dissertation committee. 
  • The methodologist is responsible for assisting you with the research design, sampling plan, instrument selection, data collection strategies, and data analysis plan.
  • The reader is a content expert in the field and provides overarching feedback on the dissertation as a whole.

All committee members are responsible for reviewing and approving all work completed by the doctoral candidate.

Q: May I request a specific CUC faculty member to serve on my committee?

Yes. Please notify the Assistant Dean which faculty member you would like to have considered for the committee when you submit your Prospectus. Please note that this faculty member may not necessarily be available or may not be an appropriate match for your research methods or topic. The Office will work with you to seek out the best methodological and content area ‘fit’ based on your Prospectus and any requests you may have. 

Q: How do I know which faculty are eligible to serve on my committee?

All CUC faculty who hold a terminal degree are eligible to serve on dissertation committees. This includes full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, and faculty working in other colleges within CUC (i.e. the College of Theology, Arts, and Humanities, the College of Business).

As noted above, Health and Human Performance students must select a Health and Human Performance faculty member as their chairperson. No similar requirement exists for other programs.

Q: May I request an external committee member who is not a CUC faculty member to serve on my committee?

Yes. This may be someone with whom you worked with in a Master’s program, a leader in your field of study, or a local support person.

Q: What are the requirements for an external committee member?

The external committee member must hold a terminal degree (e.g. PhD, EdD, DBA, PsyD). The person cannot have a supervisory relationship with you and cannot be related to you. The external committee member may serve as a methodologist or reader/content expert, but cannot chair the committee.

You must provide the contact information for the desired external committee member to the Office at the time you submit your Prospectus. The Office will need this person’s name, contact information, and credentials (e.g. degree, job title/academic position, and institutional or organizational affiliation). The external committee member will be required to submit a copy of his/her Curriculum Vitae to the Office of Doctoral Programs for review. External committee members are paid a small stipend for their involvement on dissertation committees. The Assistant Dean will explain these details to the external committee member.

Q: How long does it take to form a dissertation committee?

From the time your Prospectus is approved to when the dissertation committee is officially formed varies based on faculty availability and response time to email requests. The potential committee members will review your Prospectus. The Prospectus is not intended to be a final document or research plan, but serves only to help the candidate form a committee based on his/her preliminary ideas for the dissertation. Faculty members may want to speak with candidates directly prior to making a decision about joining the committee. If a faculty member is not available or interested in joining the committee, the candidate will contact an alternate member and repeat the Prospectus review process as needed. 

Q: How do I know when the dissertation committee is officially formed?

Once you have found faculty members willing to serve in all three roles, e-mail the Doctoral Programs Office, following the committee request format provided in the Dissertation Supervision Blackboard page. The committee is official when the Assistant Dean of Academic Research sends out a confirmation e-mail to you and the committee members. At that time an electronic form will be generated for signatures and sent to your CUC e-mail address from Adobe Sign. This form will serve as an internal record for CUC..

Q: What do I do once my dissertation committee has been approved?

Contact your dissertation chairperson. Think of your chairperson as your mentor and your guide on the road to dissertation completion. It is your responsibility to reach out to your chairperson to determine how he or she would like to proceed with your dissertation experience. 

The chairperson leads the dissertation committee. There is no one way, no right or wrong way to chair a dissertation committee. Hence, candidates can expect some variation in the committee experience. However, the chairperson is the gatekeeper for your dissertation experience and should be consulted first prior to working independently or contacting committee members. All dissertation work must be coordinated by the chairperson.

Q: May I request a replacement of the committee member?

Yes. Please read the instructions (included in the form) before completing the Dissertation Committee Replacement Request Form available under "Milestone 2 Documents" and submit it to Your request will be reviewed and you will be notified of its approval or denial via your CUC email.

Please see “Dissertation FAQ” (under the “Milestone 3” tab) for details about the dissertation.


Prepared by the Office of Doctoral Programs

Milestone 2 Documents

Institutional Review Board

The Concordia University Chicago Institutional Review Board ensures CUC remains compliant with the US Department of Health and Human Services Code of Federal Regulations (45CFR46) regarding the protection of human research participants in terms of welfare, rights, and privacy. The IRB ensures that all research conducted in conjunction with CUC is ethically compliant, that the benefit of all research activity outweighs the risk, and that all CUC researchers engage ethically with other institutional review boards with which our work intersects. The IRB certifies the investigator’s compliance with guidelines for the ethical treatment of human research participants. Although the IRB does not approve the academic merit of research studies, the IRB does consider the design and data-gathering procedures of the study to the extent to which they impact the rights and well-being of human subjects, as well as consider the overall beneficence of CUC related research. The purview of the IRB does not include the epistemological foundations, social perspectives, or value judgements of the research of either faculty or students. Based on assessment of risk/benefit, the IRB can approve, disapprove, or require modifications to applications.

The IRB is formed to encourage and assure research with human subjects will be done by recognized standards of scientific competence, ethical principles, and legal guidelines.

The IRB will review all research activities conducted by university faculty, staff, or students, whether on or off campus, and for any individual or group desiring to conduct any research or study on human subjects on campus or at other facilities under the responsibility of the University.

The IRB will conduct periodic reviews, at least annually, of ongoing research projects. This periodic review may be more frequent, if deemed necessary to the IRB.

All researchers must possess CITI Program training credentials and submit all research related documentation through, our IRB management system.  Guidance documents can be found in the library.

Doctoral Research Support


When locating empirical research and peer-reviewed content for your dissertation, use the Library’s resources: