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  8.  | Dissertation Specific: Proposal

What is the Proposal?

The dissertation proposal will be used by your committee to recommend the preliminary defense and will be included in your IRB application. It will consist of a completed version of the first three chapters of your dissertation.



The proposal will follow the format of the proposal template. It is primarily modeled after the professional version of APA 7th edition but does require minor deviations.


Each chapter in a dissertation is typically 20-40 pages, so dependent upon the length of your completed chapters, your proposal will be a fairly lengthy document. Ensure the document is double-spaced and includes an extensive reference section.


The proposal will consist of the following sections/components:

Chapter One

Chapter one of your work will be the introduction. Much of what you have written for your prospectus can be used for this section (with revisions based on committee insight).

Problem background: Central problem you will address and verification of its existence through research.

Problem statements: From the context of your problem background, identify specific problems that your research aims to address.

Theoretical/Conceptual Framework: The framework will indicate the structure and basis of your proposed research.

Research questions: Indicate, typically, a minimum of three (3) research questions that derive from the problem statements identified.

Nature of the Study: Explain your proposed method, research design, required data, data collection method, and data analysis methodology.

Significance of the Study: Indicate the potential impact of your study.

Definitions: Add a definition of terms that are used frequently in your dissertation but are not common knowledge. For additional advice, see here.

Chapter Two

Chapter two of your work will be the literature review.

For information on writing your literature review, please see the literature review page.

Chapter Three

Chapter three of your work will be the methodology of your work.

For information on writing your methodology section, please see the methodology page.


All references should be formatted using APA 7th edition. For information about formatting your references correctly, please see the APA page.

Samples of Proposals

When Do I Complete the Proposal?

The proposal will be submitted once your committee and chair approve your first three chapters. When your proposal has been adapted into the proposal template format, you will upload it to your GAP dissertation block.

What then? Your proposal will be reviewed by your committee members. Upon approval, you will proceed forward with your preliminary defense and will use this as a basis to submit to the IRB.

What if I Need Help?

For help on the proposal, you can see the list of services the Doctoral Writing Center provides here.