The D.M.A. dissertation prospectus must be submitted to the student's adviser a minimum of six months before the scheduled qualifying examination. The prospectus must include a proposal describing the scope and nature of the dissertation composition and the accompanying essay. It must also propose three topics for the Qualifying Exam. The three topics must be designed to prepare the student for an informed and successful completion of the dissertation project.
While, following the successful completion of the QE, the design of the dissertation project may well vary somewhat from the original prospectus, significant changes in the project that would require knowledge and skills not prepared by the original QE topics must be approved in advance by the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee may require additional preparatory studies at that time to be undertaken before the dissertation is complete.
The first of the three topics for the Qualifying Exam involves an aspect of theory and analysis, the second involves an aspect of history and culture, and the third involves an elective area of knowledge related like the others, to the proposed dissertation project. For the third topic, the prospectus should provide a bibliography of sources to be consulted in support of the project. If the proposed topics are relatively broad, the student should expect the Qualifying Exam Committee to give them a more specific focus; if the proposed topics are relatively narrow, the student should expect the Qualifying Exam Committee to broaden them or to substitute closely related topics.
For the written portion of the exam, the Qualifying Exam Committee delivers three essay questions derived from the established exam topics. The student is given a period of ten days to prepare written responses to these questions. If so desired, the student may seek editorial assistance from the campus Writing Center but may not seek assistance or commentary from anyone knowledgeable in the subject matter of the examination. As with any academic writing, all sources should be responsibly cited with footnotes and bibliography.