Skip to Main Content
CWRU Links

School of
Medicine

Dissertation

Dissertation

Dissertation Committee:

Per the School of Graduate Studies’ regulations, each student will form a dissertation committee, consisting of a minimum of four members of the university faculty.

  • Committee Selection –
    • The committee chairperson should be the student’s research mentor. However, if a different individual is desired, the committee chairperson will be selected by the student in consultation with the research mentor.
    • The student will consult with the chairperson to identify and select three individuals with research doctorates to serve as committee members.
    • Members:
      • At least one committee member will belong to the PhD core faculty.
      • At least one member will not have a faculty appointment at the Center for Clinical Investigation.
      • Additional individuals, subject to the Dean of Graduate Studies, other than the chairperson and the three selected committee members, who are involved in research at another academic institution or industry with expertise specific to the candidate’s dissertation research, may also serve on the committee.
      • Hold a rank of Assistant Professor or above.
      • Be tenured or on tenure-track.
      • Have considerable expertise in the student’s content and/or research area.
    • The PhD Program Steering Committee must approve composition of the dissertation committee. The committee composition must have formal approval by the Dean or Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Studies on recommendation of the PhD Steering Committee.
    • In the event the chairperson must be replaced, the student and remaining committee members, with assistance from the PhD Program Steering Committee as needed, will identify a new chairperson.

Proposal Defense:

Before initiating dissertation research, students must submit to their dissertation committee for approval, a detailed, written research proposal in the NIH or NSF style and conduct an oral dissertation proposal defense.

Dissertation defense:

With guidance from their committee, students will prepare a dissertation that will:

  • Demonstrate a thorough description and critical understanding of the literature of the student’s topic area
  • Clearly describe an original thesis, methods used, results and implications in terms of the thesis/study question
  • Identify and describe further research or future directions
  • Describe theoretical and clinical translational significance

Dissertations will be hypothesis-drive and encompass key components of the research process from the conceptualization of hypothesis, design and implementation of research; interpretation of results; preparation of scientific reports and publications. The research hypothesis will be formulated, in consultation with advisors (mentors) for plausibility and feasibility, based on comprehensive synthesis of the scientific literature. Theses will be translational and clinical and/or population-oriented, bridging two or more domains of translational research and will emphasize the process of team science. Students will be responsible for collecting (if necessary) and analyzing data to test the hypothesis, developing manuscripts and will be the lead author for any publication coming out of the thesis research.

In most cases, dissertation research will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. As needed, students will be certified by the Continuing Research Education Credit (CREC) Program in human subjects research, develop the IRB-required protocols and obtain IRB approval before initiating dissertation research.

Student Dissertation Defense Timeline:

  • The student must be registered for the dissertation credit (CRSP 701) when the examination is held.
  • At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense, the student will complete and submit the School of Graduate Studies’, “Notification for Scheduling the Final Oral Exam for the PhD.
  • At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense, the student must announce the time and location of the dissertation defense to the University community. All dissertation defenses must be located in spaces considered public (i.e. seminar spaces, classrooms, conference rooms, etc.), unless otherwise approved.
  • At least two weeks prior to the oral exam, the student must provide each member of the Dissertation Committee a copy of the completed dissertation.

During the first week of the semester in which the student plans to defend their dissertation, to determine specific dates and deadlines, we recommend visiting the School of Graduate Studies’ calendar. Example of important School of Graduate Studies’ dates and deadlines:

  • Deadline to submit graduate application through SIS
  • Recommended day for PhD Dissertation Defense
  • Deadline to submit all materials for graduation