Brown University

Skip to Navigation

Graduate School Handbook: Information Primarily for Doctoral Students

Dissertation Advisor and Committee
     The Dissertation Committee
     Policy on Advisors Who Have Left Brown
     Policy on Emeriti Faculty
Admission to Candidacy
     Extension of Candidacy
Research Travel Funds
     Graduate Research Travel Grant
     Joukowsky Summer Research Awards
Conducting Dissertation Research Away from Brown
     Conducting Research and Traveling Abroad
     Advanced Status (opting-out of Graduate School Support)
     Exchange Scholar Program
Submission of Dissertations and Theses
     Filing of Dissertations and Policy on Public Access to Dissertations
     Deadlines and Extensions
     Formatting Guidelines
          Guidelines for Dissertation Titles
          Capitalization
          Spelling
          Punctuation
          Titles of Books within Dissertation Titles
          Super- and Sub-script 

Dissertation Advisor and Committee

The Dissertation Committee

Each program should make clear in its handbook how students go about selecting their dissertation advisors and committees, and set a timetable for doing so. Programs should be structured so that each student always has an advisor; leaving a gap between advice from the DGS and advice from the preliminary examination committee and/or dissertation advisor tends to prolong time to degree and increase attrition.

Chairs and DGSs need to be aware of the advising and mentoring relationships in their graduate programs. Monitoring the progress of each student is the responsibility of the program and not simply that of the faculty advisor. The dissertation chair and the other faculty members of a dissertation committee should meet with the student on a regular basis, and certainly a minimum of once a semester.

Policy on Advisors Who Have Left Brown

Under normal circumstances, when a faculty member leaves, his or her advisees will be required to seek a new advisor. Subject to the approval of the chair of the department, faculty who leave Brown may continue to serve as dissertation or thesis advisors for students whom they were advising at the time of their departure. The program must be mindful of the need to provide students with some on-campus supervision and contact in the cases where a non-resident advisor continues service.

Policy on Emeriti Faculty[i]

Emeriti faculty are a valuable resource for students, programs, and the University. The Graduate School has adopted the following guidelines regarding the role of emeriti faculty:

  • Faculty who retire and move into emeritus standing may, at the pleasure of the relevant student(s) and program(s), continue to serve as advisors to students who were under their tutelage at the time of retirement.
  • With departmental approval, an emeritus faculty member can serve as a reader on a dissertation provided there are no other emeritus faculty members on that thesis committee.
  • With departmental approval, an emeritus faculty member can serve as a co-primary advisor on a dissertation along with a regular member of the faculty. An emeritus faculty member cannot serve as the sole primary advisor on a dissertation.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to doctoral candidacy is a student’s last formal requirement for earning the Ph.D. before the submission of his or her dissertation. To be admitted, the student must have passed all other departmental requirements, usually including courses, language proficiency, and one or more written or oral examinations (prelims). Each program’s handbook should clearly explain what the requirements are, how they may be met, what is the timetable or deadlines for meeting them, and what happens when students fail to meet these requirements upon the first attempt as well as what happens regarding subsequent failed attempts.

Most programs allow a second attempt at all or part of the preliminary exams. The program’s handbook should state clear standards for allowing the exam to be retaken and a reasonable time frame for a second attempt. If the exams are tailored to each student’s specific interests, the scope in each case should be clear to the examiners and the student.

The DGS must notify the Registrar and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in writing when a student is admitted to candidacy. The date of admission is printed on the student’s transcript, and the fact that he or she has been admitted is required for general reporting purposes within the University as well as many applications for external funding.

Doctoral students have up to five years after admission into their program to achieve candidacy. Students who do not achieve candidacy by the end of their fifth year will be withdrawn from the Graduate School. Requests for a one-year extension for achieving candidacy may be made to the Graduate School by the DGS in the student’s program.

Extension of Candidacy

It is University policy that the dissertation should be completed within five years of achieving candidacy. Nevertheless, students sometimes require more time, and in cases where the faculty believes the student will finish and accepts the reasons for delay, candidacy may be extended. Annually the Graduate School will remind active students whose candidacy is about to expire that they must write to their DGS, explain why they are taking so long, and request an extension if they intend to finish. Extensions of up to an additional two years beyond the five years since achieving candidacy may be granted by the Graduate School; extensions beyond two years require a vote of the Graduate Council.

The DGS must request any extension of candidacy from the Graduate School in writing. Note that the student must also write to justify the extension. Any extension must be to a specific date mentioned in the request.

Students who are more than five years beyond achieving candidacy and who have not been approved for an extension of candidacy will be withdrawn from the Graduate School.

Research Travel Funds

Graduate Research Travel Grant

The Graduate Research Travel Grant provides supplemental funding for scholarly research travel during the academic year only. For research travel during the summer months students should refer to the complementary Joukowsky Summer Research Award Program.

Doctoral students in their second through fifth years of study are eligible for a Graduate Research Travel Grant.  Applications from sixth year students will be considered if accompanied by a brief letter from the student’s director of graduate study or research advisor regarding how the research will assist the student in the completion of doctoral studies.  (Students enrolled in degree programs in the Division of Biology and Medicine are not eligible for this program.)

Grants up to $1,800 are used to match dollar-for-dollar awards for research travel from external or University resources outside of the Graduate School.  Awards will be made until funding is exhausted for the funding cycle of the projected travel period.

There are three application cycles for this grant.  Applications for travel must be received by the application due date for the expected travel term. Note: The Graduate School’s policy on research travel grants was updated in September 2012, after the deadline for the Cycle 1 travel term.  As an interim measure, students seeking grants for travel during Cycle 1 in 2012 should use the 2011-2012 form.

Award Period

Start Date

End Date

Application Due Date

Cycle 1

September 1

November 30

 August 31

Cycle 2

December 1

February 28

 November 30

Cycle 3

March 1

May 31

 February 28

For example, applications for travel that occurs from December 1 to February 28 must be received by November 30.  Applications for travel that spans two cycles must be received by the application due date of the cycle that corresponds with the first day of travel. 

Travel grants will be administered in the form of a travel reimbursement unless an advance is specifically requested.  All advances and travel reimbursements require submission of original travel receipts within 30 days of return from travel. 

Application Requirements:

  • a one-page description of your proposed research activities
  • a budget for these activities
  • documented confirmation of matching funds to support travel
  • a completed copy of the Graduate School's Research Travel Grant application, which needs to be signed by your department's director of graduate study

Students can receive only one research award per fiscal year but can receive conference and research travel in the same fiscal year.

For questions or to submit an application, please email graduate-travel@brown.edu.

Joukowsky Summer Research Awards

The Joukowsky Summer Research Award Program was developed by the Graduate School in 2012 to provide additional funding for scholarly activities outside of Brown during the summer months.  Students conducting research or traveling for other academic purposes during the summer months may be eligible for this award. Academic purposes could include attending language programs, summer workshops, or other activities.

Doctoral students applying for summer research after the first through fifth years of study are eligible for the awards, except those enrolled in degree programs in the Division of Biology and Medicine.

Awards are provided from a minimum of $500 up to a maximum of $2,000 per summer.  The application period is January 1 through February 28. The awards will be highly competitive as funds are limited, and will be based upon academic merit and projected impact on the research trajectory or academic training.  Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Graduate School, and award notifications will be sent to applicants by April 15. Research awards will be disbursed in May or June or by travel reimbursement upon return from summer research studies.

To apply for a summer research award, you will need to provide the following in your application:

  • a description of your proposed academic activities (one page or less) and the impact a research award would have in advancing your graduate studies or completing thesis work
  • a budget for these activities
  • any documentation of outside grants you may have won to support your summer research study plans and relevant supporting award communications
  • a brief letter of support from the DGS or the research advisor
  • a completed copy of the Graduate School's Joukowsky Summer Research Award Application form, which needs to be signed by your department's director of graduate study

After travel is complete, awardees are required to submit travel receipts to the Graduate School within two weeks, along with a brief one-page summary of research or learning outcomes and description of how the travel fund was of benefit to the achievement of their summer academic endeavors.  

Awardees can receive only one research award per fiscal year but can receive conference and research travel in the same fiscal year.

For questions or to submit an application, please email graduate-travel@brown.edu.

Conducting Dissertation Research Away from Brown

Conducting Research and Traveling Abroad

Research related activities under any circumstances are subject to a variety of important requirements. When there is an international component, these requirements still apply and there may be additional compliance issues that need to be addressed.   Please contact the Director of International Research for more information regarding international research.

Before you travel internationally, the Graduate School and the Office of Insurance and Risk urge you to register your trip information with International SOS. If you are traveling on funds provided by the Graduate School or the University, then you are required to register with International SOS.[ii] The University has contracted with International SOS to provide Brown University travelers with 24 hour worldwide medical and travel assistance, including emergency evacuation. To register your trip information go to the Personal Travel Record link at International SOS. At that site you may need to enter Brown University’s International SOS membership number to enter the site. The membership number is 11BSGC000031. Please note that the International SOS website also provides important safety and health information for international travelers.

Additional travel abroad resources can be found at Brown’s Office of International Programs.

Advanced Status (opting-out of Graduate School Support)

Students who have completed their 24 tuition unit requirement and are away from Brown for either one or two semesters conducting dissertation research are considered full-time students, are charged tuition, and must have health insurance from Brown or provide proof of comparable coverage under another plan.

Students who plan to conduct dissertation research away from Brown during one of their years of guaranteed support from the Graduate School have the following funding options available to them: (1) they may be eligible for a dissertation fellowship based on the recommendation of their department, in which case they use one of their years of guaranteed funding; (2) they may have an external fellowship and apply for supplemental stipend and tuition support from the Graduate School under the incentive program; or (3) they may opt-out of Graduate School funding and “stop their funding clock” for up to two semesters. Students who select to opt-out must communicate their decision to the Graduate School and their DGS in writing. The DGS must then report this decision on the student’s appointment form. The “opt-out option” is only available for students who are away from Brown conducting dissertation research.

Students who are awarded external fellowships and do not opt-out of Graduate School supplemental stipend and tuition support are considered by the Graduate School as funded students and the conditions of the external award incentive policy apply.

Students who chose to opt-out of Graduate School funding for one to two semesters to conduct dissertation research away from Brown, are required to pay tuition and health insurance (or provide proof of comparable coverage), during the semesters they are away from Brown. Advanced students conducting dissertation research away from Brown, who elect to opt-out and stop their funding clock, are eligible to apply for Tuition and Health Insurance Scholarships (see below).

Exchange Scholar Program

Under terms of the Exchange Scholar Program, the graduate schools of the University of California at Berkeley, Brown, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Stanford and Yale have agreed to admit each others’ students for one year of study, where appropriate, without charging tuition; the student must pay the prevailing tuition for full enrollment at his or her home institution. S/he remains an active student at the home institution while studying as an exchange scholar at the host institution. The host institution will charge for student health services if that is not included as part of tuition; and the student may purchase either school’s student health insurance.

Students who find Brown’s library inadequate for their specialty or who would like to work with a professor at one of the other institutions may benefit from the Exchange Scholar Program. The program has also benefited students whose advisors are spending a sabbatical or have taken a new position at one of the other institutions.

Students with external fellowships can continue that support away from Brown and the possibility exists for a student to hold a TA position at Brown while studying at a proximate university such as Harvard. Other students who are within the 5-year guaranteed funding window will either have to use their year of dissertation fellowship funding (with the approval of the program DGS and the Graduate School) or they may elect to forego stipend support for a year by taking advantage of the deferred funding under the Advanced Student status option.

Application forms for the Exchange Scholar Program are available in the Graduate School and online here.

Submission of Dissertations and Theses

Filing of Dissertations and Policy on Public Access to Dissertations[iii]

Ph.D. candidates at Brown must file their dissertations electronically. Brown's electronic theses and dissertation (ETD) system was developed by the Graduate School and the University Library
and launched in 2008. The system is designed to collect and archive final dissertation as a text-based PDF file. Electronic dissertations submitted through the ETD will appear in the Library's discovery service and in the Brown digital repository.

In the spirit of the dissemination of new knowledge that is a hallmark of higher education, dissertations will be subject to web searches and unrestricted downloads unless the student requests to opt out that system and have their dissertation unavailable for download outside of
the Brown community. A request to restrict download access to a dissertation has an initial two-year window from the time the degree is conferred. Guidelines associated with restricted dissertation access are:

  • The full text version of the dissertation will be available for download only to members of the Brown community.
  • Web searches including the citation and abstract of restricted dissertations will continue to be available to the general public.
  • After two years the restriction will elapse.
  • Restrictions on full text download may be renewed for two-year periods up to a total of ten years from the date of degree conferral. Requests for additional two-year restrictions should be made to the Graduate School.
  • Any requests to extend the restriction beyond ten years must go to the Graduate Council for approval.
  • In cases where the dissertation is a co-worked piece and there is disagreement between the student and the advisor over whether the dissertation will or will not be available for download outside of the Brown community, the dispute will be brought before the Graduate Council for resolution.

To complete the electronic submission process, doctoral candidates must have successfully defended their dissertation and had it approved by their committee. To use the ETD system, doctoral candidates must possess a valid username and password for accessing Brown’s computer network. If you are unable to create an account in the system, please contact ETD@brown.edu for assistance.

Deadlines and Extensions

The deadline for submission and approval of a dissertation or thesis in time to receive a degree at Commencement is May 1. An extension of this deadline to May 15 is possible upon written request from the dissertation advisor to the Graduate School (see the Academic Affairs Manager) before April 15.

Registration in semester I allows a student to submit a dissertation or thesis until the start of classes in the spring. Registration in semester II allows a student to submit a dissertation or thesis until the start of classes in the following fall. Extensions of these deadlines for one month into the new semester, e.g. September 5 to October 5, are possible upon written request from the dissertation advisor to the Graduate School Academic Affairs Manager one month before the start of the new semester. If the student does not submit the dissertation or thesis before the extension expires and does not need to be an active student, he or she can be placed on “terminated pending requirements” status.  

Formatting Guidelines

Guidelines for Dissertation Titles

The dissertation title that appears on the title page that you submit to the Graduate School is the title that will appear on your transcript and on the Commencement Program. Students should follow the title guidelines presented below in preparing the title page of the dissertation. Titles must be prepared in upper and lower case using the capitalization rules presented below.

Taken from The Chicago Manual of Style, Fourteenth Edition, 1993, The University of Chicago Press, sections 7.126-7.131.

Capitalization

The first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.) are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions (during, over, under, through, with, without) regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are the first or last word of the title or subtitle. The to in infinitives is also lowercased. Only acronyms should be set in full capitals.

The subtitle, following a colon, is capitalized the same way as the main title.

For capitalizing hyphenated and open compounds in titles use the following rule: First elements are always capitalized; subsequent elements are capitalized unless they are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or such modifiers as flat, sharp, and natural following musical key symbols; second elements attached by hyphens to prefixes are not capitalized unless they are proper nouns or proper adjectives. If a compound (other than one with a hyphenated prefix) comes at the end of the title, its final element, whatever part of speech it may be, is always capitalized. Examples: Twentieth-Century, Up-to-Date, E-flat Concerto, Self-Sustaining

Spelling

Use the word “and” instead of the ampersand “&” and spell out names of centuries (12th Century becomes Twelfth Century) and other numbers usually spelled out in text. Be sure to include accents or other special marks on letters used in non-English words.

Punctuation

Use the final comma in a list (Disease, Pain, and Sacrifice: Toward a Psychology of Suffering).

Examples:

Melodrama Unveiled: American Theater and Culture, 1800-1850

The Labour Party in Perspective – and Twelve Years Later

Thought and Letters in Western Europe, A.D. 500-900

Titles of Books within Dissertation Titles

Titles and subtitles of published books, pamphlets, proceedings and collections, periodicals, and newspapers are set in italics.

Super- and Sub-script

Mathematical or chemical names and formulas that appear in the title should retain any super- or sub-script.


[i] This section added in the Eleventh Edition following language approved by the Graduate Council.

[ii] As per a vote by the Graduate Council in the September, 2011 meeting.

[iii] This section added as per a vote of the Graduate Council in the September, 2011.