About a year after passing the qualifying exams, you should work with your advisor to select a proposal review committee and set a thesis proposal date. The following guidelines should be followed:
- The proposal review committee must include at least three subject matter experts, one of whom is the student's faculty advisor and the majority of whom are from Georgia Tech AE. At least one member must be from outside Georgia Tech AE;
- The thesis proposal establishes a structure of mutual expectations between the advisor and student. The plan is subject to change to accommodate new findings;
- The proposal should be no longer than 30 pages and must include an explanation of the research's contribution to the discipline, a literature review, early results, and an overview of next steps;
- Students should expect to have their proposal critiqued as a way of sharpening the focus of their doctoral research plan;
- There must be at least a six (6) month lag between the proposal and the defense: time for the student to implement suggested improvements and seek ongoing guidance from the advisor and/or committee;
About six months after you have submitted a successful proposal, you will be expected to schedule a thesis defense. The doctoral defense committee should include at least five (5) subject matter experts, the majority of whom are from Georgia Tech AE, and one of whom is not from Georgia Tech AE.
- Most doctoral defense committees are similarly composed to the proposal committee;
- The student is responsible for scheduling the defense place and date;
- Doctoral defenses are publicly advertised and attended, and involve a 50-minute presentation, after which questions from the public, and, then from the committee will be fielded;
- After privately deliberating and voting, the defense committee will render a decision on the granting of the doctoral degree.