The first stage of the Ph.D. dissertation process, the prospectus details the argument and structure of the dissertation. The prospectus defense serves as a first line of confirmation of a student’s dissertation topic, providing insight on how to best move forward with his or her project.
Prospectus Defense Process
Residential students defend their prospectuses in their department’s colloquium. This facilitates discussion with both the faculty and students of the department. Please ensure that you have delivered a single-sided hard copy of your prospectus to the RDS office (Norton 157) beforehand.
Modular students defend their prospectuses before their department online. To schedule this meeting, the student must reach out to his or her supervisor and head of department to request a date and time. This process generally takes a few weeks. Please ensure that a single-sided hard copy of your prospectus is sent to the RDS office before your hearing takes place.
Once the supervisor and department have approved the prospectus, the student must submit:
- A digital copy of the prospectus on the Canvas course 81910, Dissertation Research and Writing.
- The Prospectus Approval Form (please email firstname.lastname@example.org to have this form sent to you), signed by the supervisor and department head, on 81910.
- A PDF of the prospectus, along with the completed Prospectus Style Submission Checklist, to the style reading submission portal.
The prospectus approval and style reading processes will progress simultaneously but separately.
The Canvas course 81910 will display the possible prospectus submission deadlines each semester. Due to the administrative process following submission, these deadlines are immovable.
The revised prospectus with completely signed approval form must be submitted by the appropriate due date for it to be considered for approval at the next faculty meeting.
The prospectus should include the following sections. If any are missing, the student must resubmit it before the RDS office will submit it to the faculty meeting. Detailed information on formatting and structuring can be found in the Southern Seminary Manual of Style.
- Copyright page
- Title page
- Approval sheet
- Dedication page
- Table of contents
- List of tables and figures (if applicable)
Text of Prospectus
- Thesis: Includes the research question and a clear thesis statement.
- Methodology: Includes a summary of the methods employed to advance the thesis.
- A Summary Research: Summarizes the history of previously completed research in the field (900-1,000 words).
- Significance: Shows the significance of the research for the field of study, demonstrating the need for your research.
- Argument: Explains in detailed paragraph form the dissertation’s argument (900-1,000 words).
- Timeline for Completion: Explains, very briefly, the time needed to complete the dissertation and the projected graduation date.
- Appendixes (if applicable)
- Abstract (approximately 350 words; no more than 500)
The prospectus should be no longer than 3,000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography. Students should use the dissertation template to write their prospectus, making the sections of the prospectus first-level subheadings. Style templates for Microsoft Word, Mellel, and LibreOffice can be found on the Writing Center website.
The RDS office will NOT clear a student to begin dissertation writing until the prospectus has been approved at a faculty meeting and they have received approval from the style reader. If a student does not meet the style criteria, he or she must make the necessary corrections and resubmit.
Additional Steps for Empirical Study Prospectuses
Submit a Research Profile to the RDS office for approval by the supervisor and Research Ethics Committee after the final proposal approval and before conducting the research project and/or any work with human subjects.
Use all the following documents to create the Profile:
- After a successful hearing, students must make the revisions indicated by their committee and submit a finalized prospectus for faculty approval.
- Make revisions to the prospectus, preparing an itemized list of all substantial changes with page numbers.
- Submit electronic copies of the revised prospectus and change list to the supervisor for approval.
- Submit a hard copy of the approved, revised prospectus to the RDS office for faculty approval by the deadline listed on Canvas course 81910.
- Students should refer to the following documents in preparing for the prospectus and dissertation:
Billy Graham School students completing an Empirical Study prospectus should view the following examples and information below:
- Evangelism and Church Growth: Kenneth B. Albert, “Dawson Trotman’s Theology and Methodology of Disciple-Making in Light of New Testament Discipleship Principles.”
- Christian Missions: Jeff Walters, “‘Effective Evangelism’ in the City: Donald McGavran’s Missiology and Urban Contexts.”
- Leadership: Daniel Ryan Broyles, “An Analysis of S.B.C. Youth Ministry Programmatic Values Investigated Through Financial Expenditures and Ministerial Activities.”
- Leadership: Brenna Whitley, “Applying a Comprehensive-Internal Model for the Evaluation of Social-Scientific Research to the Identity Crisis Stage of Erik Erikson’s Developmental Theory.”