The following are expectations for the Ph.D. dissertation, established by the GSBS Faculty. They're based on a Council of Graduate Schools' publication, Requirements for the Ph.D.
Nature and Purpose
The doctoral dissertation is the final and most important component of the series of academic experiences which culminate in the awarding of the Ph.D. degree. Four major functions are fulfilled by the dissertation experience:
It is a work of original research or scholarship which makes a contribution to existing knowledge;
It is an educational experience which demonstrates the candidate's mastery of research methods and tools of the specialized field;
It demonstrates the student's ability to address a major intellectual problem and arrive at a successful conclusion; and,
It demonstrates that the student possesses the potential to function as an independent researcher.
In view of the wide range of fields of knowledge in which the Ph.D. degree is awarded, it is not feasible to set specific requirements and standards for this degree. Nevertheless, there is a general -- and usually explicitly stated -- agreement among American universities that the doctoral dissertation should be a distinct contribution to knowledge, and of sufficient value to warrant its publication in a reputable journal, or as a book or monograph.
Relationship with M.S. Thesis
GSBS students may utilize a Master's degree project as the basis of the hypotheses to be tested by the doctoral research. The Ph.D. dissertation must not include data that are part of the M.S. thesis. Data from the M.S. thesis can be included in the dissertation as part of the Introduction or as an Appendix. In all cases, data from the M.S. thesis must be identified clearly as originating from the previous work. Furthermore, the Ph.D. dissertation must have a title that is distinct from the M.S. thesis.