Dissertations

Doctoral students who have completed all required coursework and have an approved Major Area Paper (MAP) are ready to begin the dissertation stage of the program.

Step 1. Enroll in CRIM 998: Dissertation Proposal Credits. Prior to requesting enrollment in CRIM 998, you must identify a dissertation topic and have an acting dissertation chair who has agreed to work with you to develop the proposal. The acting chair must be a full-time member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. You must submit Dissertation Form 1 to the Director of Graduate Programs at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester in which you first enroll in CRIM 998.

Students who are eligible to enroll in CRIM 998 should contact the CLS Graduate Program Coordinator to request the CRIM 998 code at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. No codes will be given out over the phone. Request emails MUST contain the following information:

  1. Student’s full name
  2. Student’s G number
  3. Name of the dissertation chair
  4. The number of 998 credits the student intends to register for*

*Students should be familiar with the dissertation policies listed in the university catalog.

Students should submit the request using their official George Mason e-mail address. Students registering for 998 on or after the first day of classes may be subject to a non-refundable late registration fee of up to $250. Students are also responsible for making timely payment of tuition and fees.

  • For subsequent semesters of CRIM 998 enrollment, you do not have to resubmit Dissertation Form 1. Instead, you should email the Graduate Program Coordinator (and CC the Director of Graduate Programs) to request the registration code. Please be sure to include the name of your dissertation chair and the number of credits in which you plan to enroll. These requests should still be sent at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester in which you plan to enroll in the CRIM 998 credits.

Step 2. Schedule a Dissertation Proposal Defense. Once you have prepared a proposal and selected a dissertation committee, you must schedule a dissertation proposal defense. All members of the committee must be present at the defense (it is acceptable for a committee member to participate via videoconference or teleconference if necessary). The Director of Graduate Programs and the Graduate Program Coordinator should be notified of the date, time and location of the proposal defense. Prior to the start of the semester in which you wish to Advance to Candidacy (ATC) and enroll in CRIM 999, you must (1) successfully defend your dissertation proposal and obtain all signatures on Dissertation Form 2; and (2) submit Dissertation Form 2 and an electronic copy of the dissertation proposal to the Director of Graduate Programs. All requirements must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Programs by the advancement to candidacy deadline for the applicable semester. College-level ATC deadlines for each semester are available here.

Step 3. Enroll in CRIM 999: Dissertation Research Credits. Prior to requesting initial enrollment in CRIM 999, you must (1) complete and submit Dissertation Form 3 to the Director of Graduate Programs; and (2) have successfully defended your dissertation proposal and have a fully-signed Dissertation Form 2 on file (or submit along with this request). You must submit the form(s) to the Director of Graduate Programs at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester in which you first enroll in CRIM 999.

Students who are eligible to enroll in CRIM 999 should contact the CLS Graduate Program Coordinator to request the CRIM 999 code at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. No codes will be given out over the phone. Request emails MUST contain the following information:

  1. Student’s full name
  2. Student’s G number
  3. Name of the dissertation chair
  4. The number of 999 credits the student intends to register for*

*Students should be familiar with the dissertation policies listed in the university catalog.

Students should submit the request using their official George Mason e-mail address. Students registering for 999 on or after the first day of classes may be subject to a non-refundable late registration fee of up to $250. Students are also responsible for making timely payment of tuition and fees.

  • For subsequent semesters of CRIM 999 enrollment, you must request the enrollment code from the CLS Graduate Program Coordinator and maintain continuous enrollment in CRIM 999 while completing your degree.

Step 4. Schedule a Dissertation Defense. Once you have completed your dissertation research and have received approval from your committee to move forward, you must schedule a dissertation defense. All members of the committee must be present at the defense (it is acceptable for a committee member to participate via videoconference or teleconference if necessary) and the public is invited to attend. You must provide the following defense information to the Graduate Program Coordinator to be entered into the CHSS notification system:

  • Full name (as you want it to appear in the announcement and university commencement program)
  • Title in sentence case (e.g., Title in Sentence Case)
  • Abstract
  • Chair
  • Committee members
  • Date/time (include start and end time)
  • Location (virtual? If yes, please send link in email)

You must provide this information at least 19 days before your scheduled defense or it will not be accepted by the system. If the defense is being held via Zoom, the committee chair should generate the Zoom link to be included in your defense information that you send to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Step 5. Final submission and appearing in the University Commencement Program. There are several major steps you must complete in order to prepare, format, complete, and submit your dissertation. More information about each step and corresponding deadlines can be found on the University Dissertation and Theses Services webpage.

Helpful information:

  • You can and should submit your dissertation for the format review process before your document is completed. This review is done electronically (via email) and only reviews for proper formatting of the dissertation, not content.
  • Signature sheets can be found here. CLS PhD students should download the signature sheet for College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Important directions for formatting this sheet are listed on the webpage; please be sure to read all instructions.
  • Everyone must sign the signature sheet in black ink (can be digital versions of their handwritten signatures) and in the order listed on your advancement letter from CHSS. Once you get the committee’s signatures, send the signature sheet to the Director of Graduate Programs and the Graduate Program Coordinator to obtain the final department and Dean’s office signatures.

If you want your name and dissertation title to appear in the university commencement program, you must submit your defense information to the Graduate Program Coordinator by the following deadlines:

  • Fall graduation: October 1
  • Spring graduation: March 1
  • Summer graduation: June 1

Suggested Timelines for Dissertation Submissions

The Department of Criminology, Law and Society has developed suggested timelines for defenses of the proposal and dissertation, and final submissions based on the requirements for each process. Students should review the UDTS website for all official guidance on the process and associated deadlines. The Graduate Program Coordinator can assist students in interpreting the suggested timelines, answer questions related to defenses and submissions, and refer students to the appropriate resource/department when necessary.