While working on the doctoral dissertation, the student interacts extensively with faculty, seeking advice from faculty with whom the student shares research interests. A dissertation chairperson will be typically selected by the student by the end of his/her second year of study. With the consultation of this dissertation chairperson, the student will typically select his or her dissertation committee members during the third year of his/her study. The dissertation committee members help the student formulate and pursue his or her dissertation topic.
Working on the dissertation involves two important milestones. The first involves the defense of a dissertation proposal that explains the nature of the student’s planned dissertation research. When the student has developed a written dissertation proposal that his or her advisor judges is ready for oral defense, a formal proposal defense before the dissertation committee is held. At the defense, the student proposes his/her dissertation idea, discusses its significance to the development of knowledge and explains the research methods to be used and any preliminary results. Doctoral students will typically propose their dissertation defense proposal by the end of their third year of study. The second and final milestone is the dissertation defense. When the written dissertation is judged complete by the student’s advisor, it must be defended orally in a final dissertation defense before the dissertation committee and the general Rice community.

Doctoral Dissertation Committee

There is no formal process for creating a dissertation committee. As a student progresses to the dissertation stage (typically after the end of the second year), he or she begins working with a faculty advisor. The advisor may be one of the student’s summer paper advisors. This advisor typically then becomes the chairperson of the student’s dissertation committee. As the student develops the dissertation, he or she selects other members of the committee on the advice of the chairperson, or by approaching other faculty members who have shown interest in the dissertation topic. The rules regarding committee membership are as follows:

  1. The dissertation committee is composed of at least three members who must be approved by the Director of the Ph.D. program.
  2. All committee members must be tenured or tenure-track Rice faculty members.
  3. At least two committee members must be Jones Graduate School of Business faculty.
  4. At least one committee member must be a non-Jones Graduate School of Business faculty.
  5. At most, two committee members may be tenure track or tenured faculty members at universities other than Rice University. These outside members must be in addition to the three Rice University faculty members.
  6. The committee chairperson must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member of the Jones Graduate School of Business of the student's area.
  7. At least three committee members, including the chairperson, must be present at the dissertation proposal. The committee vote must be unanimous for the student to pass the dissertation proposal.
  8. All dissertation defenses must take place on the Rice University campus with the candidate and all committee members in physical attendance. In exceptional cases, appeals to this requirement can be made in writing to the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies through your graduate coordinator. The committee vote must be unanimous for the student to pass the dissertation defense.

Members of the dissertation committee change only in exceptional circumstances.

Scheduling the Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Defenses

  1. At least 3 months must lapse between the dissertation proposal defense and the dissertation defense.
  2. The student sends the proposal/dissertation to all committee members who discuss whether it is acceptable.
  3. When the proposal/dissertation is deemed acceptable, the student works with the committee members to find a mutually agreed upon day and time for the proposal or dissertation defense.
  4. No later than two weeks before the proposal/dissertation defense, the student must provide a copy of the dissertation proposal or dissertation to each of the committee members and send an electronic copy to Melinda Pena (Melinda.E.Pena@rice.edu), coordinator of the Ph.D. program.
  5. A formal announcement about the proposal/dissertation defense, invitation for all Jones School faculty and PhD students to attend the defense, and the title and abstract of the proposal/dissertation should go out no later than two weeks before the scheduled date. Please contact Melinda Pena, coordinator of th Ph.D. program to arrange this announcement. In addition, the dissertation defense must be publicly announced two weeks before the scheduled defense. Defense announcements should be submitted by the student to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by filling out the following form: http://events.rice.edu/rgs.