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Dissertation Guidelines

Dissertation Committee Composition

The dissertation committee is composed of at least three faculty members in the Department of Modern Languages at UL Lafayette. The chair of the dissertation committee must be a full member of the UL Graduate Faculty. At minimum two members of the committee, including the chair, must be on the Graduate Faculty. If the committee is composed of more than three members, a simple majority of the members must be on the UL Graduate Faculty. Verify the Graduate Faculty status of faculty members here.

You must form your dissertation committee before taking comprehensive examinations by submitting the Doctoral Dissertation Committee form to the Graduate School.

Most dissertations in Francophone Studies are in French, but in certain cases and in consultation with the dissertation director, a student may instead write in English.

Prospectus of the Dissertation

Upon successful completion of the written and oral components of the comprehensive exams, you must write a Prospectus of the Dissertation (generally ten pages of text, plus a bibliography) in consultation with the director. The Prospectus must include at minimum a workable topic for the scope of the dissertation, a clearly defined thesis to be examined, an explanation of the critical approach(es) that will be used, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. You must be ready to present and defend your Prospectus within one month of completing the oral exam. The dissertation committee, and not the comprehensive examination committee, will attend the Prospectus defense and either accept the Prospectus or require revisions to the Prospectus before acceptance.

Only when you have successfully defended his or her Prospectus will you be considered ABD (all but dissertation).

Progress Toward Completion

It is your responsibility to remain in regular contact with all committee members during all phases of the research, writing, and revising stages. Regular meetings with the entire committee are strongly encouraged; you should meet at least once per semester with your director.

The committee members will assist you in producing a workable plan for the submission of chapters or sections, and it is your responsibility to meet deadlines set by the committee and/or Graduate School. Satisfactory progress toward the completion of the dissertation is a requirement for eligibility for continued enrollment in the Graduate Program and for retention of assistantships.

Download and carefully read the Graduate School's Guidelines for Graduate Theses and Dissertations.

Each semester, you must submit a Doctoral Student Progress Report to the Graduate School; you will receive this report from the Graduate School and must request approval and the signature of your dissertation director or advisor. The report should detail measurable advancement toward completion of the degree.

You must allow the committee members at least three weeks to read chapters submitted for consideration. Expect to revise your work multiple times before it reaches its acceptable form. In light of this, you should not plan to graduate until all committee members have seen all the work, have had ample time to read it, and have indicated that you should apply to graduate that semester.

Each semester, the Graduate Coordinator will provide a timeline of deadlines for submission of the dissertation; these deadlines must be respected in order to meet the Graduate School’s deadlines, which are publicized on the Graduate School’s website. Dissertations are submitted to the Graduate School for final approval only after they have been defended, revised, and proofread.

Dissertation Defense

As a doctoral student , you should expect to have completed the writing stage before the beginning of the semester in which you will graduate.

You do not set the date of the defense. The defense date is set by the members of the committee. A defense date will not be scheduled until all members of the committee are satisfied with your work. No defenses will be scheduled during the summer.

The defense consists of a short introduction provided by the candidate, which includes your for asking the research question examined, situating the dissertation in the existing field of research, and giving a very brief summary of the contents with special emphasis on the conclusions reached at the end of the process. After the short introduction, the members of the committee will ask questions.

You should be ready to expand upon any related topics and to make assertions that are beyond the scope of the written dissertation. Each professor will generally interrogate you for approximately twenty minutes. It is advisable for you to take notes, or to designate a trusted colleague to take them, during the discussion since it will typically treat areas of weakness that should be improved upon for future research projects. At the conclusion of the discussion, you and any audience members will leave the room while the committee consults. The results will then be privately communicated to you.

Current students can find more information and resources here.