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Chemistry Dissertation Outline

The Ph.D. Thesis Proposal is an oral examination and is an integral part of the Ph.D. approval process.

Students who successfully pass the Research Aptitude Examination are recommended to take the Ph.D. Proposal exam within 24 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination. However, they must pass the Ph.D. Proposal exam within 48 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination to remain in good standing (unless otherwise approved by the graduate studies committee). If the student successfully completes the requirements for an M.S. degree within 18 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination, an additional 6 months is added to both limits.

The proposal committee must include at least three members of the regular faculty in ChBE. These faculty members are listed under the “Regular Faculty” tab of the faculty directory on this web site. All of these members will normally serve on the final dissertation committee.

An exemption from the above requirement can be granted under special cases. To request an exemption, the student’s advisor must petition the Graduate Director detailing specific reasons for the request and listing the modified committee. The Graduate Director will make a decision on the request after consulting with the Graduate Studies Committee.

The candidate must submit an electronic document to the committee at least 5 days before the examination. If requested by a committee member, a hardcopy will be provided. The proposal must follow one of the two template options provided on-line with both requiring a maximum of 15 pages (description and graduation timeline) single spaced with font and margin definitions described in this template. Double spaced is allowed at the discretion of the faculty advisor and all single-spaced page limits will be doubled. Additional material to supplement the proposal may be included in the appendix but should be limited to supplementary figures, tables, detailed methods, or complex theoretical derivations. This document must be prepared with the consultation of the thesis advisor and be approved before sending out to the PhD proposal committee. 

For formatting requirements, download a template:

Abstract/Summary Submission and Announcement

Please submit a completed abstract (or summary), proposal title, and the time, date and location of your proposal exam to Kathy Gardinier (lopresti@umd.edu) one week in advance. This will be announced to the ChBE community. 

The following must be documented on the final page(s) of each student's written proposal:

  1. A list of publications on which the student is either the first author or a co-author. Provide the full citation (title, all authors, DOI, etc.). Subdivide into:
    1. Publications that have appeared in print: specify full citation
    2. Publications that have been submitted and are under review: specify dates
    3. Publications that will be submitted after the defense: specify tentative titles, and dates
  2. A list of conference presentations on which the student is either the first author or a co-author. Provide full details (title, authors, etc.). Specify speaker. Subdivide into:
    1. Presentations that have been delivered
    2. Presentations that have been scheduled (abstract accepted): specify dates
    3. Presentations for which abstracts will be submitted: specify tentative titles, and dates

The candidate must prepare an oral presentation, approximately 25-30 minutes in length. The seminar is open; however, the final deliberations are closed to all but the committee members.

The student must secure a majority of positive votes to pass. The student may apply for admission to candidacy to the Ph.D. program upon passing the Ph.D. Proposal exam.

For students entering Fall 2015 and later

Expectations

To ensure ongoing and timely discussion of the student’s progress after he/she reaches ABD status, the Advisory Committee Chair should work with the student to convene a meeting approximately annually after the third year. The goals of the meeting (in most cases, though it may vary with the student’s research group) are to:

  • review research accomplishments since the research progress report,
  • review the planned scope of the dissertation based on an outline,
  • discuss the estimated timeline for completing the needed work,
  • identify and deal constructively with obstacles to completing the plan, and
  • provide advice for professional development and career planning/job searches, including progress on program objectives such as speaking, teaching/mentoring, and writing at the Ph.D. level.

A brief written summary of the meeting should be prepared by the Committee Chair and shared with the student, Advisory Committee members, and the Graduate Program Committee, preferably using the Preparing for a Dissertation Progress Meeting form.

Outcomes

If, at any of these meetings, the Advisory Committee finds the student’s performance to a significant concern, the student’s Research Advisor and/or Committee Chair should communicate these concerns to the Graduate Program Committee within one week. The Graduate Program Committee will review the student’s standing in the program at the time of the last departmental review and possibly recommend a committee meeting very soon. In serious cases of little or no progress or lack of annual committee meetings, the advisor, in consultation with the Advisory Committee and the GPC Co-Chairs, may place a student on probation in the group if he/she is considering terminating the student from the group (see Academic Actions and Appeals).

Probation in the group would normally last for 3–4 months during which the student would retain their level of financial support. The advisor is expected to notify the student in writing of the conditions for regaining good standing in the group and when those conditions have been satisfied. If an ABD student is on probation, he/she is strongly advised to consult the departmental ombudsperson regarding strategies to address the situation. Note that, since opportunities to change research groups after reaching ABD status are quite rare, probation as an ABD student comes with a significant risk of termination from the group and Ph.D. program.

For students entering Fall 2014 and earlier

Expectations

To ensure annual discussion of the student's progress after he/she reaches ABD status, the Advisory Committee Chair should work with the student to convene a meeting each year after the third year. In the fourth year, the meeting must be held by mid-semester of the seventh semester in residence unless an extension is granted by the GPC. The goal of the meeting (in most cases, though it may vary with the student's research group) would be to review the scope of a preliminary dissertation outline and very rough timeline for completing the needed work. In the fall of the fifth year (and if needed, sixth year), the goal of the meeting would be to discuss progress on the earlier plan and to identify and deal constructively with obstacles to completing the plan within the year. In both cases, a written summary of the meeting should be prepared by the Committee Chair and shared with the student, Advisory Committee members, and the Graduate Program Committee, ideally with a copy of any thesis outline discussed during the meeting.

Outcomes

If, at any of these meetings, the Advisory Committee finds the student's performance to be inadequate, the student's Research Advisor and/or Committee Chair should communicate these concerns to the Graduate Program Committee within one week. The Graduate Program Committee will review the student's standing in the program at the time of the last departmental review. In serious cases of little or no progress, the advisor, in consultation with the Advisory Committee and the GPC Co-Chairs, may also place a student on probation in the group if he/she is considering terminating the student from the group (see Academic Actions and Appeals). Probation in the group would normally last for 3-4 months during which the student would retain their level of financial support. The advisor is expected to notify the student in writing of the conditions for regaining good standing in the group and when those conditions have been satisfied. If an ABD student is on probation, he/she is strongly advised to consult the departmental ombudsperson regarding strategies to address the situation.