Guidelines for Preparing a Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal in Architectural History -->

A doctoral dissertation is a demonstration of the ability to conduct effective research using largely primary sources. The dissertation also demonstrates command of secondary sources and other relevant research materials. The end product is a cohesive, well-written, and illustrated document that contextualizes, explicates, and defends your dissertation's thesis.

After considering your intellectual interests using the guidelines below, you should discuss your proposed project with your dissertation advisor. This opens a critical dialogue in which you will bring your proposal to a level of development appropriate for committee consideration. You may also contact other potential members of your dissertation committee for their advice. Your thesis advisor will confirm with you that he or she believes your proposal is ready to go forward for review by the Program Director, Chair of the GSC, and Graduate Advisor. All three will need to sign their approval of your thesis on the forms provided by the Graduate Coordinator.

In your planning, please note all due dates stipulated by the Graduate School and those implicit in pre-registration for courses. As these specific dates change annually, contact the Graduate Program Administrator (Robin Dusek) to confirm them. Also, note carefully details of format and other University regulations pertaining to the submission of a Ph.D. dissertation. See

The Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal consists of the following:

  1. Dissertation working title and statement. Provide a concise and specific statement of the question you propose to tackle. Describe the argument you intend to make, and why the subject is significant to the field of architectural history, and perhaps beyond.
  2. Previous research on the topic. Give a summary of the literature relevant to the subject and your research on the topic. Note any special language skills necessary for your work and how you will satisfy these requirements.
  3. Methodology. Describe how you will pursue your research, including the critical and theoretical basis of your investigation. This section conveys how you will develop your argument. Does your dissertation require travel for first hand research? Indicate how this will be accomplished.
  4. Anticipated findings. Keeping in mind that research is empirical and interactive, discuss what you hope your work will establish in confirming your dissertation's thesis. Indicate also what findings would disconfirm your thesis.
  5. Bibliography. List sources of research information, both primary and secondary, with particular attention to archives and archival materials to be consulted. The bibliography should confirm to the standard format as outlined in The Chicago Manual of Style.
  6. Schedule. Include the start date, key deadlines of sub-objectives, and the anticipated completion date of your dissertation. Note again any travel required for your research. Depending on the anticipated length of your project, the schedule should be broken down into quarterly or monthly objectives.

For further details on course requirements in the history program, see