Admission to Candidacy

Students are recognized as candidates for the doctoral degree only after they have passed the comprehensive examination, completed all departmental requirements (except the dissertation), and received approval by the Graduate School of their formal Application for Admission to Candidacy. An application for admission to candidacy must be filed with the Office of the Graduate School upon successful completion of the above requirements, but should be filed no later than five months prior to the date on which the degree is conferred.


A dissertation is required of all candidates for the degree of doctor of philosophy. The dissertation must give evidence that the candidate has pursued a program of research, the results of which reveal scholarly competence and a significant contribution to knowledge. The candidate conducts the research and prepares the dissertation under the direction of the mentor and in consultation with the dissertation advisory committee. After developing the dissertation proposal and its approval by the dissertation advisory committee, the candidate will conduct the dissertation work and prepare and submit a dissertation draft for committee approval. The candidate will arrange for a final oral examination, a defense of their dissertation work, on committee approval of the dissertation draft. The candidate will make any final revisions to the dissertation according to the directions of the dissertation advisory committee, and complete all remaining Graduate School requirements to successfully complete their doctoral studies including submitting the Announcement of Doctoral Oral Examination form to the Graduate School. Following dissertation defense, students need to submit Result of Doctoral Oral Exam form signed by the dissertation committee members to the Graduate School.

Dissertation Proposal: The dissertation proposal can only be completed after having passed the preliminary examination. The student will prepare a proposal to present to the dissertation advisory committee. The format of this proposal will vary depending on the dissertation format, but will typically consist of an introduction, a review of pertinent literature, and at least an outline of the proposed methods.

Once the student and the dissertation chair believe the proposal is sufficient, an approval of the committee must occur. At least two weeks prior to this approval, the student must send a copy of the proposal to all committee members.

If the committee approves of the proposal, the /dissertation chair will need to complete CSD Dissertation Proposal form and return a copy to the CSD Doctoral Graduate Program Director and to each committee member.

After the committee members have approved the proposal, the student will submit the required paperwork to the Human Subjects Committee (Institutional Research Board [IRB]). Any project that deals with human participants, whether the data are primary or secondary in nature, must obtain prior approval from the IRB before the data collection can commence. Only after IRB approval may the student begin to solicit study participants and to collect data.

Dissertation Supervision: The dissertation advisory committee is determined by the student and mentor under general guidelines. The committee will be composed of the following members:

  • Two committee members including Dissertation chair, will be CSD graduate faculty.
  • Third committee member will be a Baylor graduate faculty who is outside the CSD graduate faculty.
  • The fourth member can be inside or outside CSD graduate faculty, including non-Baylor graduate faculty with approval of the GPD
  • At least one of the committee members will be CSD Graduate Faculty with primary faculty appointment in CSD Dept.

NOTE: The committee may consist of 3 CSD grad faculty + 1 outside CSD grad faculty within Baylor OR 2 CSD grad faculty + 1 outside CSD grad faculty within Baylor + 1 non-Baylor grad faculty. The committee may include additional members beyond the required minimum of four.

Dissertation Formats: The dissertation format and dissertation both represent culminating works of the research processes for the master’s degree and doctoral degree programs respectively in the Department of CSD. There are two accepted formats that can be utilized for these works; either the traditional five chapter format or the alternative journal manuscript format.

The difference between the traditional and alternative format is mainly in the manner of content organization. It does not differ in quality, contribution to the field, or rigor. The final product from either format should make a novel contribution to the field, and should be a work that is publishable in a peer-reviewed outlet.

The determination of the format choice should be jointly made by the student, thesis/ dissertation chair, and dissertation committee; it is not a decision made solely by the student. Once this determination has been made, it should be documented on the Dissertation Proposal Form and signed by the student and committee members and submitted to the CSD Graduate Program Director. Regardless of format selected, the dissertation should conform to the Guidelines for Preparing the Dissertation and Thesis published by the Baylor Graduate School.

Traditional Dissertation: The traditional format consists of five chapters: Introduction, Literature Review, Method, Results, and Discussion.

Journal-Manuscript/Dissertation Format: As an alternative to the traditional thesis/dissertation style, chapters 4 and 5 of the traditional model may be replaced with journal manuscript(s) first-authored by the student (i.e., the text of one or more manuscripts, submitted or to be submitted for publication, and/or published articles, reformatted according to thesis/dissertation requirements as described below). For the dissertation, 2-3 manuscripts would be included. Each paper must be judged by the dissertation committee to be of publishable quality in journals deemed by the committee to be of high quality.

The determination of the number of journal manuscripts, and which journals the papers target, are joint decisions of the student, the dissertation chair, and the dissertation committee; it is not a decision made by the student alone. For multiple journal manuscript projects, the papers must have a cohesive, unitary character, making them a report of a single program of research. This connection between multiple journal manuscripts will be described in both the Introduction (chapter 1) and Conclusion (a chapter to follow the final manuscript). According to Graduate School policy, the Conclusion chapter would be required for any dissertation with multiple manuscripts.

The purposes of the journal-manuscript dissertation format are to: (a) train students to report research findings in a format traditionally used by their scientific and professional communities; (b) facilitate the submission of publications from the dissertation research; and (c) allow for other students and professionals to review the student’s dissertation research in a concise reporting format.