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Dissertation Proposal Outline

Most universities offer comprehensive guidelines in their dissertation manuals about how to set up and organize the dissertation and the proposal. In the Social Sciences, most dissertations are organized into four or five chapters. However, there are many variations on the nature of these chapters, and the details are left up to the discretion of the Dissertation Committee. In the Social Sciences, the dissertation proposal generally consists of the first three chapters (in a five-chapter format) or the first two chapters (in a four-chapter format).

Dissertation Outline

Here is a generic outline for a five-chapter dissertation. The third chapter on methodology varies for a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method design. A  four-chapter dissertation incorporates the literature review into the first chapter.

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Introduction
  • Background of the Problem
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Research Questions
  • Significance of the Study
  • Definition of Terms
  • Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

  • Introduction
  • Search Description
  • Conceptual or Theoretical Framework
  • Review of Research (organized by variable or themes)

Chapter 3: Methodology (Qualitative)

  • Introduction
  • Research Design
  • Research Questions
  • Setting
  • Participants
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology (Quantitative)

Introduction
Research Design
Research Questions and Hypotheses
Population and Sample
Instrumentation
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology (Mixed)

  • Introduction
  • Research Design
  • Research Questions and Hypotheses
  • Setting and Sample
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4: Research Findings

  • Introduction
  • Findings (organized by Research Questions or Hypotheses)
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5: Conclusions, Discussion, and Suggestions for Future Research

  • Introduction
  • Summary of Findings
  • Conclusions (organized by Research Questions or Hypotheses)
  • Discussion
  • Suggestions for Future Research
  • Conclusion

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