A dissertation prospectus

Dissertation Prospectus – How to Write One

Here's What We'll Cover

As a Ph.D. candidate, your candidacy is facilitated by a remarkable thesis. Therefore, have a keen understanding of how to craft a perfect dissertation and more so, the prospectus. If you are reading this, you have achieved your Ph.D. candidacy, and you need to submit a dissertation prospectus to the supervisory committee.

The dissertation prospectus is a brief document that provides preliminary information about your dissertation research. It is also the first formal document you submit to your dissertation committee outlining your intended study.

Well, you must have a thesis prospectus filed to the supervisory committee as one of the fulfillments to your dissertation project. Therefore, this article will discuss the basics of a dissertation prospectus, including how to write one.

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Different institutions have their systematic order, and some necessitate your presence before the committee to discuss your prospectus.

That is why you need to have a keen understanding of how to write one. Through this article, you will understand what a dissertation prospectus should include. 

The Differences Between a Dissertation Prospectus and Proposal

It is easy to confuse a dissertation prospectus with a proposal. If you’re torn between the two, here is a clear difference. A proposal is written to your committee or supervisor outlining the area of study within which your research falls and your intended approach. It is written as though you are making a request. 

On the other hand, A dissertation prospectus is different because it offers a guideline that you will follow in completing your dissertation. It describes the problem you have chosen to study, why it is essential, and the questions you will pose, and the methods you will use to answer the said questions. Similarly, it is primarily a plan for your work, and the target is not your supervisor or committee, as it is written for your benefit. 

The difference is that a dissertation prospectus is for a personal benefit to get clear on your topic. On the other hand, in a proposal, you have to win to get your grade, so you have to prove to your readers that your ideas have valuable information and can be used. 

Questions your Prospectus Should Answer

Generally, your prospectus should answer three broad questions:

Can the Project be Done? 

This question is about your research methods. It involves the evidence you will use and if the methods are adequate for completing the proposed research. Moreover, it will provide whether your research methods are appropriate to address the submitted questions.

What is the Dissertation Inquiry and Analysis? 

This provides the basis for your dissertation. For example, what theories or assumptions will organize your research processes and your interpretation of results?

What is the Relationship of the Proposed Research with Your Field of Study?

This is about the importance of your research within the context of your field of study. For example,  How does the research meet the goals of your area?

Prospectus Dissertation Designs

Prospectus Dissertation falls into two broad types of research, as shown below. 

Qualitative Prospectus Research

Qualitative prospectus research is an approach designed to help reveal the perception of a target audience concerning your research problem. The prospectus will briefly outline the qualitative research method to be used, For example, a case study. It will also provide for participation selection, like asking possible interview questions. Lastly, the prospectus will provide proposed data collection procedures.  

Quantitative Prospectus Research

Quantitative prospectus research is an approach for testing objective theories by examining the relationship among variables. In this case, the prospectus will describe the particular quantitative design you will use, for example, as a pre-and post-test control group. It should also define your population, such as specifying how large a sample you will draw. Lastly, it should provide data collection procedures and list variables. 

The main difference is that quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics while qualitative research generates textual data. Quantitative research also allows you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses, while qualitative enables you to explore concepts and experiences in detail. 

What Is Included In The Dissertation Prospectus?

  • Title
  • Statement of the problem
  • Scholarly materials available
  • Methodology
  • Feasibility 
  • The attractiveness of the project
  • Cite your sources


Your thesis prospectus must have a title that carefully, succinctly, and precisely showcase the direction of your research project.

Majority of the PhD. students take this chance as an opportunity to showcase their linguistic prowess by availing cute titles.

Well, this is not the time to play with words or punctuation marks.

Therefore, you should ensure that you avoid obligatory colons in the middle of your title.

You will only be able to manage to write the best title when you understand that punctuation marks don’t define the relevance and quality of the title. 

Statement of the Problem

Your dissertation will be looking to address one problem. Therefore, ensure that you understand the issue in-depth and through one paragraph, develop a statement of the problem.

The section plays an imperative role in explaining the central area of focus of the dissertation. Your dissertation is primarily an answer to a single question or problem that you must formulate and understand first. Therefore, you can never avail of a solution in the absence of a formulated question.

The statement of the problem helps define the issue that your thesis will answer. Dissertations are long and somewhat complicated. Nonetheless, you need to avoid sophisticating your question and formulate it in the simplest version possible. Your sophisticated thesis must answer an easy-to-understand and follow the question. Your subject must, therefore, remain simple and clear, which precede answers full of lengthy complications and specific qualifications.

In other words, consider simple solutions to lead and dictate complicated answers.

Scholarly Materials Available

In the past, other scholars must have investigated the problem and availed their solutions.

Therefore, you need to present the theoretical relationship between your dissertation and previously researched and published papers and projects.

The scholarly findings available should relate to your area of study directly.

Nonetheless, you may consider specific scholarships due to their relevance in the methodological, critical, and theoretical concerns that your dissertation will be presenting. 

The research gap available will be showcased in this section.

The supervisory committee must understand your project undertakings and their relevance. 


Every successful dissertation must stick within the perimeters of a predefined methodology.

Therefore, consider identifying the method governing your thesis project.

The committee must understand whether this is a genre, psychoanalytical, formalist, or poststructuralist theoretical study. 


You need to present the feasibility of your dissertation project to the PhD supervisory committee.

Take time to understand where you will be conducting the study and why.

Also, consider examining whether the necessary materials are available and if not, your course of action. 

The feasibility section helps you address the time factor; is it possible to finish up the project within the predefined timeline.

Finally, identify tools like skills, languages, computer skills and experience, and even archival exposure necessary for the dissertation and explain whether you have the tools at your disposition.

The Attractiveness of the Project

Many are times when this section is overlooked. It would help if you showed whether this is a project that appeals to your interests.

If yes, explain why you need to conduct this study.

The segment must penetrate through the superficial and showcase the professional angle of the study. 

How will you advance your professional abilities through this project? Do you anticipate publications after the project and if so, what kind?

How will this project help you as a person and career-wise?

Cite Your Sources

You need to present your primary and secondary sources for your project. Ensure to create annotations when keying in the bibliographies. 

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A prospectus carries a lot of weight as far as your dissertation project is concerned. Therefore, ensure to present an articulate, concise, and precise dissertation prospectus.

The above are segments that you need to incorporate in your prospectus. 

How do you write a prospectus?

You should first consider the subject that you are interested in and then from there formulate a statement problem.

How long does it take to write a dissertation prospectus?

In general, it takes between 12-18 months to complete a dissertation prospectus.

What is the purpose of a dissertation prospectus?

This is to inform the panel of what your research is all about and whether it is viable.

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