Dissertation Committee and Defense - Social Anthropology

The PhD dissertation should normally fall between 300 and 400 double-spaced pages in length. Given that most reputable academic publishers will not consider unrevised dissertations for publication, students are encouraged to anticipate revision by aiming to stay at or below this optimal length. Any student expecting to defend a dissertation of more than 450 pages should petition for the prior agreement of the faculty, which will base its decision on the student’s research committee’s evaluation and other relevant information.

The dissertation committee will review the dissertation and decide when it is ready for defense. The doctorate will be awarded when the candidate passes a public defense. The final copy of the dissertation should be in committee members’ hands one month before the scheduled defense.

Dissertations are now submitted electronically. The final manuscript of the dissertation must conform to the requirements described in Dissertations.

The public defense lasts approximately two hours. It begins with a short (15–20 minute) presentation by the candidate. Committee members then question the candidate. A more general discussion with other social anthropology faculty, graduate students, and other attendees follows.

Normally, a complete draft of the dissertation must be submitted within five years after entering the program (exclusive of the time required to complete fieldwork). Students entering their seventh year (exclusive of the time required to complete fieldwork) must submit a letter to the faculty requesting an extension of this time limit.