Thesis proposal outcomes and criteria

In February 2016, the BE REFS recommended the following additions to the BE Handbook. These additions were intended to clarify the possible outcomes of the thesis proposal (oral qualifying exam) and articulate criteria for what makes a satisfactory proposal.

Thesis proposal criteria

Each committee is free to choose its own criteria by which to judge the quality of thesis proposal. The criteria used tend to include:

  • a proposal document that conforms to the Handbook’s guidelines,
  • a feasible research plan proposed and defended by the student that will result in a body of work that the committee feels will meet its criteria for graduation, and
  • scholarship in the research field demonstrating that the student is capable of executing original, informed research in that field.

Thesis proposal outcomes

If the proposal as presented is acceptable, a Pass grade will be recorded for 20.951, and the student is expected to begin a schedule of regular meetings with their thesis committee.

If the proposal requires changes or improvements to be considered acceptable, a Pass grade will be recorded but the student will be expected to improve the proposal according to the committee’s specifications before their next meeting.

If the proposal is unacceptable, the student will be required to either leave the PhD program immediately or complete a Master’s thesis. A student that completes a Master’s may apply for re-instatement into the PhD program or graduate with a Master’s degree.