Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Academic Programs

Preparing to Write the Dissertation

Topic Selection

From the moment students enter the doctoral program in Latin American Studies at Tulane, and possibly before, they should be thinking about potential dissertation topics. A viable project will be one that transforms a focused and feasible research investigation into a valuable and unique academic contribution.

Dissertation Committee

By the beginning of the semester after completing the General Preliminary Examinations, students should decide in consultation with the Graduate Advisor the constitution of their Dissertation Committee. Once chosen, each committee member is given one of the following assignments: Director, Second Reader, or Third Reader. The Dissertation Director has primary responsibility for deciding how the committee will distribute responsibilities and will function. The Dissertation Director is usually the faculty member with whom a student has worked very closely and who has significant expertise in the student’s primary concentration.

Prospectus

Within three months of completing the General Preliminary Examinations, students should present a Dissertation Prospectus. The prospectus constitutes the first formal synthesis of the research project that culminates in the Dissertation. Students should use it to organize and structure the content of the proposed research, to describe how and where it will be conducted, to analyze its feasibility and specific methodology, to define the importance of the topic as a unique contribution to knowledge, and to create a timetable for completion. Students prepare the Dissertation Prospectus in close consultation with their Dissertation Director, the Graduate Advisor, and other members of their Dissertation Committee.

The Dissertation Prospectus to be submitted to the Dean of Liberal Arts should be approximately five doubled-spaced pages in length. The cover sheet includes the student’s name, department, the title of the proposed dissertation, and the names of the Dissertation Director and the other members of the committee. The introduction of the prospectus should contain a summary of previous scholarship on the problem. The body should include an orderly description of the plan for the investigation. The conclusion should clearly state the anticipated nature of the investigation results. Major sources of information should be indicated and a selective bibliography attached. The prospectus is usually subject to a defense in front of the Dissertation Committee. Once the prospectus is approved by the full Dissertation Committee, three copies are prepared and are delivered to the Graduate Advisor with signatures of all members of the Dissertation Committee. The Graduate Advisor submits these documents to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts.

Funding for Dissertation Research

University Fellowships and Financial Aid are tied structurally to university appointments as Teaching Assistants or Project Associates that can only be fulfilled while in residence at Tulane. Furthermore, these positions are made available to continuing students for only two years and to new or transfer students for a maximum of four years (five years for students in the Joint LAST/Art History Ph.D. program). Consequently, where field research is a fundamental component of the dissertation project and where it cannot be accomplished with summer research grants that the Stone Center funds each year, students must solicit outside funding to support that work.

The Graduate Advisor is available to work with each student to identify additional sources of support and to prepare applications as soon as the student formulates his or her proposal. Many application deadlines occur in the early Fall, so doctoral students are advised to schedule meetings with the Graduate Advisor at least one year before they plan to begin field research.

Advancement to Candidacy for the Ph.D.

After the successful completion of all required coursework, language examinations, the General Preliminary Examination, and the Dissertation Prospectus, doctoral students officially apply for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The application form is completed and submitted by the Graduate Advisor.

After this formality is complete, the Graduate Advisor secures the signed approval of the Dissertation Chair and submits a recommendation for Admission to Candidacy to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts certifying that all requirements for the degree have been met. Once the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts has certified that all requirements for the degree have been met, he or she will advance the student to Candidacy for the Degree of Ph.D. in Latin American Studies.

The recommendation for Admission to Candidacy must be submitted to the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts no later than September 15 for those expecting to receive the degree in December, December 15 for those expecting to receive the degree in May, or March 15 for those expecting to receive the degree at the end of the Summer Session.

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Kaqchikel Language Table

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Join Kaqchikel learners and speakers at all levels to practice your language skills at this bi-monthly conversation table. It’s the holiday season on Dec. 2. Join Mtro. Marco Antonio Guaján (aka Mokchewan) to compare your favorite holiday celebrations.

Link to join: https://tulane.zoom.us/j/93988469399?pwd=bkk3eDIzOEhQVjVEV1ZxTHFDTnJvQT09

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas.