Doctoral Dissertation Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee

After passing the comprehensive examination, the student will select a Dissertation Committee which must be approved by the ORLD Coordinator and the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Committee will include at least four (4) members selected from the following categories. Each voting member must have UMES Graduate Faculty Status. The categories for committee members are as follows:

  1. Chair
    Select from ORLD full-time faculty, as well as UMES full-time faculty. Previous Doctoral Committee Chair experience is preferred. 
  2. Core Faculty
    Select from ORLD adjunct and full-time faculty, UMES faculty, or faculty affiliated with another accredited university who have expertise in the student’s area of interest. 
  3. Research Faculty 
    Select from ORLD adjunct and full-time faculty, UMES faculty, or faculty affiliated with another accredited university who have expertise in research design and/or statistics. 
  4. Associate Member or Secondary Core or Research Faculty
    This person may be selected because of expertise in a desired area.

One committee member (with full-time faculty status in the ORLD program) will be assigned the role of Dean’s Representative, a position that reports on the proceedings to the Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Proposal Defense

The student and his/her Dissertation Committee will agree upon a dissertation subject and accompanying research design. A quantitative proposal and dissertation manuscript will include the first four chapters (Introduction, Review of the Literature, Theoretical Framework and Hypotheses, and Methodology) of the final dissertation (usually six chapters: Introduction, Review of the Literature, Theoretical Framework and Hypotheses, Methodology, Results, and Conclusions/Discussion). A qualitative proposal and dissertation may contain a different number of chapters than those noted for quantitative proposals. Proposal templates are available here. The student will follow the APA Style Manual (7th or latest edition) regarding referencing and appropriate citations. The students will follow the UMES Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide (available here) for specific formatting of the document.

The Proposal Defense, administered by the Dissertation Committee, is an oral examination of the research proposal. All members of the Dissertation Committee must attend the Proposal Defense either in person or via prior approved audio/video technology. If an emergency arises among a Committee member, the Dean of Graduate Studies may substitute that member with the Program Coordinator or the Dean’s Representative to the Dissertation Committee so that the Proposal Defense may take place. At least three Dissertation Committee members must be physically present for the proposal defense.

During the Proposal Defense—the oral examination—the Dissertation Committee members examine the student on all aspects of the proposed dissertation research as well as whether the student has the proper motivation, technical and intellectual capacity, and resources to complete the research in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Following the completion of the Proposal oral examination process, the Dissertation Committee will hold a closed meeting in which decisions will be made concerning the final form of the proposal. The student will be called back into the room to hear the Dissertation Committee decision. Dissertation Committee consensus is desired; however, the student passes the proposal with at least three of four affirmative votes. The student is required to bring ORLD Form B to the proposal defense. It is expected that the Dissertation Committee will work with the student to make any required changes. When the Dissertation Committee recommends substantive changes in the proposal, the student will not move forward to submit to the UMES Institutional Review Board (IRB) the request for approval of human subjects data collection until all edits have been made. After passing the Proposal Defense, the student is allowed to submit materials as needed to the UMES Institutional Review Board (IRB).

After passing the Proposal Defense, the student is admitted to candidacy provided that he/she submits the application for Admission to Candidacy. This application form may be obtained from the UMES Graduate School ( The timeline for Admission to Candidacy is five years after enrollment in the program.

If the student fails the Proposal Defense, he/she must re-defend the research proposal. A second failure or failure to re-defend within one year (but no sooner than 30 working days) of the first proposal defense results in cancellation of admission.

Dissertation Defense

The ability to undertake independent research and provide sufficient evidence of scholarship is demonstrated by submission of an original dissertation, which is required of all candidates for a PhD degree. A minimum of 12 dissertation hours is required to complete the ORLD Doctoral degree program. Prior to admission to candidacy, the student may register for no more than six (6) dissertation hours. After registering for all 12 required hours, the candidate must register for one dissertation hour per semester and summer session, including the semester or session in which he/she defends his/her dissertation. In other words, the candidate must be continually enrolled in dissertation hours until graduation. The candidate has up to four (4) years to successfully defend his/her dissertation from the time he/she was admitted to candidacy.

The Dissertation Defense MUST be physically attended by ALL members of the candidate’s Dissertation Committee, and the Dissertation Defense must be held in UMES facilities. At the completion of the defense, the Dissertation Committee will hold a meeting (without the candidate) to discuss decisions regarding the candidate’s pass/fail status and any recommendations for the final form of the dissertation manuscript. The student will be called back into the room to hear the Dissertation Committee decision. The Dissertation Committee has the following alternatives regarding the pass/fail status for the candidate:

  1. Accept the dissertation without any recommended changes and sign the appropriate form.   
  2. Accept the dissertation with recommendations for changes, and, EXCEPT FOR THE DISSERTATION COMMITTEE CHAIR, sign the appropriate form. After the candidate makes the recommended changes, the Dissertation Committee chair will review the dissertation and, upon his/her approval, sign ORLD Form E.   
  3. Recommend revisions to the dissertation manuscript and NOT sign ORLD Form E until the candidate has made the changes and submitted the revised dissertation manuscript for Dissertation Committee approval. Then, the Dissertation Committee will sign Form E if they approve of the changes.   
  4. Recommend revisions and convene a second meeting of the Dissertation Defense. The second defense may take place no fewer than 6 months and no later than 12 months after the first defense. Candidates may be examined no more than twice. After failing the second attempt, the candidate’s admission to the graduate program is terminated.   
  5. Rule the dissertation manuscript and defense unsatisfactory; therefore, the student fails and may not re-defend. Before or after recommended changes, the candidate fails if two (2) of four (4) Dissertation Committee members do not sign ORLD Form E. In addition, the ORLD Coordinator may override any Dissertation Committee pass/fail decision. Circumstances for an override could include a.) a dissertation manuscript not in compliance with ORLD specified outline/style; b.) failure of the student to comply with IRB human subjects protection requirements; or c.) acts of plagiarism and faulty data handling and other examples of academic dishonesty that were found. These problems would go back to the student and the RAC with appropriate action to be taken as warranted, e.g., if an academic honesty or IRB issue and/or revisiting the dissertation manuscript for revision and a subsequent review following the above five pass/fail alternatives.

Although not an ORLD requirement, the Doctoral candidate may request a Public Seminar (open to the public) to serve as a dress rehearsal for the Dissertation Defense. The request should be submitted to the ORLD Coordinator.

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