School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine


The Prospectus is a written and oral defense of the Ph.D. dissertation project that must be completed by the end of the Fall semester of Year III. It is evaluated by the student’s dissertation committee- made up of 3 departmental faculty members- one of which is the advisor. At least two members of the committee must have graduate faculty status. An external member is also required, however, this person cannot have any formal ties to the department. In total, four faculty members serve on the Prospectus committee (which becomes the Ph.D. Dissertation committee). The Graduate Director (or a designated member of the Graduate Committee) also attends the Prospectus and serves to moderate the sessions as well as ensure continuity of the Prospectus process for all students.

Written Part

The Dissertation Prospectus is a written document that describes the proposed Ph.D. dissertation project as well as its scientific background. This document must contain the following sections: Introduction/Specific Aims; Background & Significance, Preliminary Studies, Experimental Design & Methods, and References. The document must not exceed 50 pages (excluding references). The student develops the written Prospectus document in consultant with the permanent advisor. When the advisor is satisfied with the document, the student submits it to all members of the dissertation committee prior to scheduling the Prospectus meeting.

Oral Part

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the Prospectus Meeting. The meeting consists of a student oral presentation (e.g. 30-50 min powerpoint talk) that contains the following information derived from the Prospectus document:

  • Background & Significance
  • Central Hypothesis and Specific Aims
  • Preliminary Studies
  • Experimental Design & Methods

The student should be prepared to answer any scientific question posed by the committee as related to the project, or its scientific background. After the student's presentation, each member of the dissertation committee will have an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the project. When the committee is satisfied that all questions and concerns have been addressed, the student is excused from the meeting and the committee votes to approve or disapprove the Prospectus. The vote for approval must be unanimous. A disapproved Prospectus must be revised and resubmitted to the committee in written format. A second Prospectus meeting must be scheduled to take place in a subsequent semester. If there is a significant disagreement between committee members that affects the outcome of the Prospectus meeting, the Graduate Director will intervene to resolve the issue.

The University Prospectus Form

The student must download and complete the official WSU Prospectus Form (two pages) from the Grad School website. If the dissertation committee approves both written and oral parts of the Prospectus, committee signatures must be obtained on this form in order for the Prospectus to be approved by the Graduate School. A copy of the written Prospectus is submitted along with the official form to the University. Completion of the Prospectus also satisfies the Oral Exam requirement of the University leading to the Ph.D. degree (check box on form).

Download the Prospectus Form

The Departmental Prospectus Form

During the Prospectus meeting, the Graduate Director takes notes on committee suggestions that are documented on a departmental Prospectus Form (see below) and placed in the student’s file. This form provides written documentation of committee suggestions that must be addressed at future Dissertation Committee meetings.