The dissertation is the final stage of the PhD program. It consists of a research project designed and carried out by the student with the approval of and in consultation with her/his supervising committee. The scope, theoretical framework, research questions, and analytic strategies may vary widely across students, but all dissertations build on existing knowledge, possess critical depth, and include rigorous research methods. The first stage of the dissertation process is completion of a written dissertation proposal, and oral defense of the proposal, that must be approved by the student’s supervising committee. Once the proposal is approved, the student works to carry out the proposed dissertation study. The final step is completion of the written dissertation (which includes a Three-Paper Thesis or Traditional dissertation model), and oral defense. The dissertation phase can only begin after successful completion of the comprehensive exams, and typically is completed within 1 to 2 years.