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Dissertation Completion Proposal

Updates concerning the 2016-2017 process & forms are forthcoming.

All doctoral students in good standing are guaranteed five years of support, in keeping with the very best institutions. Completing the dissertation can, however, require more than five years with circumstances often differing by discipline. The Graduate School provides sixth-year doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences who are in good standing tuition scholarships and support for health insurance and health services. Through the Dissertation Completion Proposal (DCP) mechanism, rising sixth-year students in the Humanities and Social Sciences are able to request stipend support, as well.  A Dissertation Extension Proposal (DEP), discussed below, is the mechanism for rising seventh-year or later students seeking tuition scholarships and health insurance. See application details below.

The Graduate School has made substantial changes to the DCP process, which has been in place since 2011-12. The new DCP is based on input from programs and students, including a joint committee of faculty and students. These changes are effective for 2015-16 stipend-funding decisions. They represent an effort to give more autonomy to graduate programs, increase the transparency for programs and students and allow for earlier notice to students. 

Match Option
The Graduate School now offers programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences a matching option: The Graduate School will match a program commitment for 50% stipend support for a rising sixth-year student with an equal commitment. Additionally, the Graduate School will cover the tuition, the health insurance and the health fee. The Graduate School match applies to any funding option, including summer only funding, funding for one semester or funding for two semesters. When a program supports a student, the program can choose an appointment as a fellow, a proctor, or a teaching assistant.  Graduate School-supported semesters continue to be in the form of teaching assistantships.  

The match option allows programs to make long-range funding decisions that should help programs give students greater clarity and earlier notice of future funding: programs will be expected to establish clear criteria of how students can be eligible for a match option commitment from their program.

Programs will issue to each doctoral student a written summary of the students’ standing after the first semester of year 5. 

Institutes and Centers
One innovation of the revised DCP process is the availability of new and distinctive training opportunities through participating Brown Institutes and Centers. Students are invited to express interest in such appointments on the DCP application forms.  

External Fellowships
Students who have won an external fellowship during their five year guarantee period are guaranteed a sixth year of stipend support (for details, see the incentive program guidelines.) Programs are required to support the fellowship recipient in year six using the savings accrued as a result of these external fellowships. The Graduate School will cover the tuition scholarship, health services fee, and health insurance. Such students will still be asked to submit a DCP. (Students in programs that did not participate in the Financial Plan during the fellowship year will be covered by the Graduate School.) 

Please note that institutional graduate student support at Brown in the form of fellowships or assistantships, including support through institutes or centers, does not result in a sixth-year support guarantee.

Review Process
The Graduate School will review the DCP applications of any students who are not covered by the matching option, the external fellowship incentive program, the Open Graduate Education program, the Deans’ Faculty Fellow program, or through Teaching Assistantships or fellowships offered by Centers and Institutes. Programs are invited to rank those students only, and the Graduate School will follow the program ranking, if provided.

While there are many discipline-specific markers of excellence, the criteria that will guide the Graduate School’s review include: 

  • Articles or other professional publications
  • Conference presentations and other presentations of research outcomes
  • Excellence in teaching
  • External and internal fellowship awards
  • Service at Brown University
  • Progress on the dissertation

The Graduate School will rely heavily on the letters of recommendations received from programs in assessing these criteria.

The timeline calls for students to submit their DCP forms directly to their programs for review by the last Friday in January.  

Dissertation Extension Proposal
Each year there are a small number of graduate students who may need additional support in their 7th year or later. After consultation with the DGS in their program, students will be asked to submit their Dissertation Extension Proposals (DEPs) to programs in the last Friday in January. Programs will be asked to submit these to the Graduate School with supporting materials on March 15. DEPs will also be considered after this date. The Graduate School grants students tuition scholarships and, when budget allows, grants health insurance. These students may also seek student employment on campus through the Student Employment Office.  (The Graduate School does not provide stipend support to students beyond their sixth year.)