Each student is required to pass an oral examination defending the proposed dissertation.  This proposal defense must be publicly announced to all Joint Doctoral Program faculty, students, and staff a minimum of two weeks’ before the defense date.  Announcements are sent by e-mail. 

The proposal defense can be scheduled any time after completing two years of the program at full-time status and the second year project. The student must also be in good standing.  There is no need to wait until the clinical or the emphasis comprehensive examinations are completed.  In fact, we encourage students to propose dissertations early so that there is enough time to collect the data before going on internship.


Dissertation Proposal Defense Announcement

Dissertation Proposal Defense Announcement Template

Writing the Abstract:

The abstract (not including the announcement details), must be no longer than 350 words.

The most common error in writing the abstract is failure to include a brief but complete description of the research project. A typical abstract should include:

    • the questions or hypotheses under investigation;
    • the participants, specifying pertinent characteristics;
    • the experimental method;
    • planned data analytic approaches, including statistical significance levels; and
    • the potential implications or applications

For 3-Paper dissertations: You must make it clear that you are proposing a 3-Paper dissertation and clearly list the 3 aims.


Getting Your Announcement Approved

The following is the procedure for getting the abstract and dissertation proposal announcement approved:

STEP 1: Approval of Abstract by Dissertation Chair

The student must first submit the abstract to their Dissertation Chair (and Co-Chair if applicable) for approval. After the student has made any necessary changes required and has final approval by the Dissertation Chair, the student can finalize the proposal announcement. 

STEP 2: Approval of Proposal Announcement by a JDP Co-Director

The Dissertation Proposal Announcement (see template above) must be submitted by email to BOTH JDP Co-Directors for final approval. Please make sure you copy your Dissertation Chair (and Co-Chair if applicable) on the email. The email should include the student’s cell phone (or other phone numbers) so they can be called to discuss any questions or concerns the JDP Co-Directors may have; failure to be readily available by phone or email may delay the approval process.

Response to the initial request to review the proposal announcement (including the abstract) should be within a day or two. If either JDP Co-Director does not respond within a couple of days, please contact the respective offices to ensure that they are in town.

The JDP Co-Director(s) may ask you to make changes in the abstract. These requests will be sent to both you and your Dissertation Chair. The public announcement will not be sent out until one of the Co-Director(s) gives final approval.

STEP 3: Submitting the Approved Dissertation Proposal Announcement for Distribution

Once your proposal announcement has been approved by one of the JDP Co-Directors, it is ready to be sent for distribution. Please follow the guidelines listed below when submitting the proposal announcement for distribution.

Formulate an email as follows:

To: Lynsey Miller (lmiller@sdsu.edu); Kristin Deveraux (kdeveraux@ucsd.edu)

Cc: Dissertation Chair; Co-Chair (if applicable); SDSU Co-Director; UC San Diego Co-Director

Subject: [Your name] Dissertation Proposal Defense

Email Body: Please find a copy of my dissertation proposal announcement attached.  It has been approved by [Dissertation Chair name] and [JDP Co-Director name].

Attachment: The file should be a Word document, titled “Dissertation Proposal Defense [Your complete name] [date of the defense (e.g. October 10 2019)]”


Note: The public announcement must occur at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a forced delay of the dissertation defense to meet the two week minimum. 


Dissertation Proposal Defense

The dissertation proposal defense is a public meeting. Although the proposal defense will be open to the public, final determination of the content, including “passing” the defense of the proposal, rests with the dissertation committee. 

Circulate a copy of your dissertation proposal to your entire committee at least two weeks before your scheduled proposal defense date. Your dissertation committee must formally approve your dissertation proposal before you can go forward and complete the dissertation.  Their approval is indicated by each member’s signature on the JDP Form 3*.  This form should be completed and taken to the proposal defense.

Committee Participation at Dissertation Proposal Defense:

  1. A doctoral committee member can participate in one of two ways: physically present (meaning they are in the room) or telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference).
  2. All but one committee member must be physically present. It is strongly recommended that all members be physically present. No more than one member may be telepresent.
  3. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.
  4. If an emergency situation arises that affects the number of committee members present, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members (either physically or telepresent) to examine the student.

Note: Departments and programs may impose more restrictive requirements regarding how to conduct these exams, as they deem appropriate. Rules #1 and #2 listed above have been modified by the JDP. 

To refer to UC San Diego’s policy on Doctoral & Master’s Committees go to: http://grad.ucsd.edu/academics/progress-to-degree/committees.html#Appointment-of-the-Doctoral-Com.


Processing the JDP Form 3 

  1. After the committee has approved the proposal and signed the JDP Form 3, the form must also be signed by both JDP Co-Directors (as long as all other requirements have been met to advance to candidacy*).
  2. Once the JDP Co-Directors have signed the form, take the form to the UC San Diego Cashier’s Office located on the first floor of the Student Services building to pay the candidacy fee.  The fee needs to be paid and the form itself needs to be validated in person. There should be metered parking in front of the building. Currently, the fee is only $50 (even though the form says $90) and can be paid with cash or check only.
  3. After the candidacy fee has been paid, sign and date the form, then submit it to the SDSU Program Coordinator who will forward it along to Patrick Walls in the SDSU Graduate & Research Affairs Office for the Dean’s signature; SDSU will forward it to UC San Diego Graduate Division for final approval.
  4. Students will receive an email (to their @ucsd.edu account) once Graduate Division approves the JDP Form 3 and the student has been advanced to candidacy. 

*PLEASE NOTE: If you defend your dissertation proposal BEFORE you have successfully completed all of your core coursework, passed your Clinical Comprehensive Exam, and/or passed your Emphasis Comprehensive Exam, you should still have your committee members sign the JDP Form 3 and indicate whether or not you passed your dissertation proposal defense. However, please leave the date blank for now where is asks if “The members of the Joint Doctoral Committee for the Qualifying Examination report that the candidate has completed all predissertation requirements in the major and taken the qualifying examination on (date)”. Hold onto your form until all requirements have been met.  At that time, enter the date in which ALL these requirements have been successfully completed, then follow the directions posted above.

Updated 10/10/2019