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The culmination of the PhD program of study is a doctoral dissertation, prepared with the guidance of a thesis advisor. The dissertation must demonstrate originality and ability for independent investigation, and the results of the research must constitute a noteworthy contribution to knowledge in the field. The dissertation must exhibit mastery of the literature on the subject and familiarity with the sources, and must be well written.

A PhD candidate files a dissertation proposal form with the University of Minnesota Graduate School shortly after passing the preliminary oral examination.

Students defend their PhD thesis to an oral examination committee consisting of four members, including their advisor and two other members of the Linguistics Graduate Faculty, plus one member external to the Linguistics program. Three members of the final oral examination committee will serve as reviewers of the dissertation, including their thesis advisor, one other member of the linguistics graduate faculty, and one member from the field of the minor or the supporting program. More details on examination committees can be found here. Students must follow all Graduate School requirements for formatting their thesis.