Dissertation Regulations

The dissertation regulations apply to all program tracks.

  1. At the end of the special examinations, or at the latest within one month thereafter, the candidate should specify the area in which the dissertation is to be written and the name of the dissertation director. This person shall be a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
  2. The candidate, after consultation with the director, and within two months of the special examinations, will then invite two other faculty members to serve as readers. In exceptional cases, and with the prior approval of the graduate committee, one of these two members may be drawn from another department, another university, or an equivalent institution.
  3. Before the end of the semester following the special examinations, or at the latest the end of that academic year, the candidate shall meet with the director and the two readers for approval of the prospectus of the dissertation. The prospectus should reflect preliminary research working towards a student’s dissertation topic. Its purpose is to ensure that the candidate has done enough work to determine that (a) the project is coherent, is of suitable scope, and has not been done before in the same way, and (b) the candidate has the knowledge and skills to carry it out in reasonable time. The prospectus should include an account of the issues to be investigated, a concise statement of the motivations for the proposed research, a brief overview of previous scholarship, an outline of the approach that will be taken (e.g., methodologies and theories), a breakdown of the proposed chapters, a research bibliography for the project (for which the director will determine the length and style), and a timetable for completion. The recommended length is 20–25 pages. The director shall promptly, by means of the appropriate form (available in the department office), notify the graduate committee of the approved title and the name of the members of the dissertation committee.
  4. The director and other members of the dissertation committee shall, by May 15th of each year, or within 12 months of the prospectus meeting, and on annual occasions thereafter, meet with the candidate to reflect on the progress towards the dissertation, and on other aspects of the candidate's professional profile (teaching, attending conferences, giving papers, publishing articles, etc.). The candidate shall submit to the committee a self-report in advance of this meeting, detailing progress towards the dissertation, any problems or setbacks, reflections on teaching, and remarks on professional development in general. After the meeting, the director shall prepare a written summary of the discussion, and this report will be made available to the student and the director of graduate studies.
  5. Not later than the end of the sixth graduate year (except by permission of the graduate committee), the candidate must present a dissertation as evidence of independent research. The dissertation shall be completed in conformity with the guidelines set out in GSAS Policies, and the following procedure shall be followed for the submission and defense of the dissertation:
  6. When the candidate and the committee deem that the dissertation is ready to be examined, the candidate shall a complete draft of the dissertation not later than two weeks before the degree application due date specified on the Degree Calendar in GSAS Policies for that year. The members of the committee shall have not less than two weeks in which to read the dissertation, after which they shall confer, either in person or by other means, and shall decide, by majority vote, whether the dissertation defense should proceed. If the decision is positive, the committee members shall also agree on the changes and revisions needed for the dissertation to be approved. If, in the view of the committee members, substantial work remains to be done on the dissertation, the defense will be postponed to a later date. The director shall communicate the results of the committee discussion to the candidate.
  7. If the committee decides that the defense can proceed, the candidate shall normally have up to four weeks in which to make such changes and revisions as may have been specified by the committee and to submit a revised draft of the dissertation. The committee members shall have at least one week to review this revised draft before the defense takes place.
  8. The defense shall consist of a full and frank discussion of the dissertation, including plans for eventual publication of the results in article or monograph form. Following the discussion, the members of the committee shall decide, by majority vote, whether to approve the dissertation, and, if the result is positive, shall sign the dissertation acceptance certificate. GSAS rules require at least three signatures on the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate.
  9. The dissertation as approved shall be accompanied by two copies of a summary of not over 1,200 words, which the director will promptly forward to the Editor of Harvard Studies in Classical Philology for publication.