Ph.D. Proposal

The Graduate Committee meets once a month to review and approve academic student matters; therefore, please plan accordingly. 


Prior to the semester that you are ready to present your Proposal, a composition of your reading committee should be decided in conjunction with your advisor.

Step 1. Identify your Ph.D. reading committee.

A.   You are encouraged to talk to various faculty members regarding possible topics and to begin this process immediately upon embarking on a degree program. Composition of your reading committee should be decided in conjunction with your faculty advisor.

B.    The committee consists of at least five members

The Ph.D. Reading Committee consists of at least five members including the dissertation advisor, who serves as the chairperson. All committee members must have an earned doctorate; in special cases, an individual who does not hold the doctorate may be proposed for membership through petitioning the Graduate Committee. One committee member must be the dissertation advisor (or the co-advisor) and the second committee member shall be tenured or tenure-track academic faculty members with primary or joint appointment in the Woodruff School. The third committee member shall also have a primary or joint appointment in the Woodruff School. Of the last two members, at least one shall be an academic faculty member with no Woodruff School appointment, either primary or joint.  At least four of the committee members shall be tenured or tenure-track faculty members; at least one member of the committee shall have a primary appointment in the Woodruff School. An Emeritus faculty member serving as the dissertation advisor must have a co-advisor who is a tenure-track academic faculty member with a primary appointment in the Woodruff School.

Step 2. Submit the Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy form. 

A.   Complete the Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy form in the ME Graduate Handbook. Please go to the following link and follow the online instructions:

B.    Once the form is submitted, your faculty advisor will receive an automated email requesting a short justification for the composition of your reading committee.

Please Note: If a proposed member is not a Georgia Tech faculty member, a CV of that proposed member must also accompany the request. Please email the CV to your Staff Academic Advisor in the Office of Student Services.

Step 3. Receive approval from the Woodruff School Graduate Committee and then obtain signatures of committee members after your presentation.

A.   The Woodruff School Graduate Committee meet once a month. The meeting dates are posted in the Graduate Announcements emailed to all Woodruff students. You may also ask your Staff Academic Advisor in the Office of Student Services. After the Committee approves your topic and reading committee, you will receive an email from the Office of Student Services.

B.    Now that your reading committee has been approved, please log into to create an account with DocuSign. Find detailed instructions here. (Please make here a hyperlink to the PowerPoint DocuSign tutorial). You will need the DocuSign account in order to complete the electronic version of the Admission to PhD Candidacy form after your presentation.

Change in Title or Abstract

If there are any changes in your Title or Abstract, please complete a revised Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy form via DocuSign. Indicate on the form that this is only a change in title, abstract, or both. You and your advisor must sign the form. Changes to the title or abstract are handled administratively and need not go to the Woodruff School Graduate Committee for approval.

Change in Reading Committee

If there are any changes to your Reading Committee, it must be submitted to the Office of Student Services on an updated Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy form. Please follow the above instructions in steps 2 and 3 in order to have the new reading committee member(s) approved. If the person is not a Georgia Tech faculty member, please email the CV to your Staff Academic Advisor in the Office of Student Services. 

Writing the PhD Proposal


The objective of the Ph.D. Proposal is to allow an early assessment of your chosen topic of research for the satisfactory completion of the doctoral degree.  The proposal should delineate your specific area of research by stating the purpose, scope, methodology, overall organization, and limitations of the proposed study area. The proposal should include a review of the relevant literature and indicate the expected contribution of the research.


All graduate students who have successfully completed the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination should submit a Ph.D. proposal to the Woodruff School Office of Student Services within one year after completion of the qualifying examination. A student will not be allowed to graduate without a minimum of six calendar months between the time that his/her Ph.D. Proposal is approved and the time in which he/she completes the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense.


A well-conceived Ph.D. proposal will help you:

• Develop the critical research questions
• Lay the foundation for the research work to be done
• Isolate pending problems
• Manage your time efficiently
• Map your research progress
• Think through the whole process, indicating the need for an integrated approach

Your proposal should contain a concisely stated hypothesis.  After a successful proposal presentation, the Woodruff School Graduate Committee will inform you if the topic is appropriate and that the committee understands what is planned.  After the proposal is presented, you are ready to move from perception and comprehension of critical questions to a resolution of the problem.


Cover Sheet: The cover sheet for the Ph.D. proposal is the Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacyform.  The cover page is essentially a formal statement that names the dissertation advisor, sets forth the dissertation topic selected for the investigation, and enumerates a 200-word summary (or abstract) of the proposed dissertation research.  The title of the proposed dissertation topic should be brief, scientifically and technically valid, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate reader, and suitable for use in the public press.

The 200-word summary of the proposed research should be a self-contained description of the activity.  The summary should be written in the third person and include a statement of objectives, methods to be employed, and the significance of the proposed work to the advancement of knowledge.  It should be informative to other persons working in the same or related fields and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically literate reader.

Table of Contents: A table of contents is required and should show the location of each section as well as the major subdivisions of the project description, such as a summary of previous work, and the methods and procedures to be used.

Project Description: The main body of the proposal should be a clear statement of the work to be undertaken.  It is limited to 15 pages and should include:

•  Objectives of the proposed research and its expected significance
•  Relation to longer-term goals of the investigator's project
•  Relation to the present state of knowledge in the field, to work-in-progress elsewhere
•  Plans of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, an adequate description of experimental methods and procedures, and, if appropriate, plans for preservation, documentation, and sharing of data, samples, physical collections, and other related research products.

Bibliography: Citations must be complete (including the full name of the authors, title, year and location in the literature).  There is no page limit for this section of the proposal. 

Style and Format: Brevity will assist your Ph.D. Dissertation Reading Committee in reviewing the Ph.D. proposal.  The project description must not exceed 15 pages (30 double-spaced pages is acceptable).  Graphical elements, including charts, graphs, maps, photographs, and other pictorial presentations are included in the 15-page limit.  Pages should be of standard size (8½" x 11"; 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm) with 1" or 2.5 cm margins at the top, bottom, and on each side.  The type font size must be clear and readily legible and in standard size, which is 10 to 12 points. (Nothing smaller than 10 points should be used.)

Pursuant to the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988, your proposal must use the metric system of weights and measures, unless impractical or inefficient.

For more information, please refer to the Thesis Manual, Thesis Templates, and Citation Tools at:


Step 1. Provide the completed written Proposal to your committee members.

A.   A copy of the completed final draft of the proposal must be submitted to your reading committee before you are allowed to continue with scheduling the oral presentation.

Step 2. Schedule the Proposal Presentation and submit the Announcement to the Office of Student Services.

A.   Poll the members of your reading committee to establish a date and time for the presentation. Reserve a room for your oral presentation.  Submit your announcement at the following link:

This step must be completed at least two weeks (14 days) before the presentation. The announcement will be posted to the Woodruff School calendar.

Step 3. Submit Final Forms.

A.  The Thesis/Proposal/Dissertation Assessment form is now available in Qualtrics. Each committee member must complete the Qualtrics form at the conclusion of the presentation. The form will be routed to the Office of Student Services for further processing.

B.  After your presentation, please complete the Request to Ph.D. Candidacy form via DocuSign. Please be sure to list Dr. Andrei Fedorov as the School Chair and your Staff Academic Advisor as the Graduate Coordinator. An email will send automatically requesting the required signatures. Everyone will receive a final, signed copy of the form.