Advanced Planning

Approval of Dissertation Subject

The subject of the dissertation must be approved in advance by the student’s academic program. If a student wishes to submit as a dissertation a published article or series of articles, a book or monograph, or a manuscript that has been accepted for publication, express approval by the academic program must be obtained.

  • In addition to the GSAS requirements, students must be aware of and conform to any requirements prescribed by their program or dissertation committee, particularly the recommendations of their dissertation advisor.
  • In no event may a dissertation be presented for the PhD degree that has already been submitted toward any degree at Harvard or elsewhere, in substantially the same form and content.

Forming a Dissertation Committee

Two signatories must be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); FAS emeriti (including research professors) and faculty members from other Schools at Harvard who hold appointments on GSAS degree committees are authorized to sign DACs as FAS members. GSAS strongly recommends that the chair of the dissertation committee be a member of the FAS. If approved by the department, it is possible to have co-chairs of the dissertation committee as long as one is a member of FAS. 

Inventions and Patents

Students whose Harvard-based research includes an invention must inform the Office of Technology Development (OTD) as soon as possible or, at minimum, several weeks before they defend their dissertation, present at a conference or seminar, submit for publication, or make another public disclosure (see Patents).

Once a patent application is filed, the student may submit their dissertation to ProQuest, DASH, and the University Archives through ProQuest ETD.