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School of Nursing: Celebrating Nurses

Past, Present, and Future of Nursing Education

George Mason University’s School of Nursing 40th Anniversary Celebration was held October 10-11, 2014 at the George Mason University Fairfax Campus in Fairfax, Virginia. Read more.

GMU Nurses 40 years

Doctoral Programs in Nursing

Guidelines for Oral Defense of Dissertation Proposal

Forms for Dissertation

Once PhD in Nursing students are admitted to candidacy, the next academic challenge is the completion of the dissertation proposal.  The following guidelines have been established to support your development of an excellent dissertation proposal. 

  1. Identify a Dissertation Chair and Committee who have programs of research that match the design and content of your research question.  The Chair is a nursing faculty member.  The first reader is to be selected from the College of Health and Human Services (nursing faculty or other CHHS faculty member).  The second reader is selected from a discipline outside the College, but within the University.  A third reader is optional and is generally selected to provide consultation as an additional subject matter expert.  Once you have identified the Chair and Committee,send a letter to the Assistant Dean, Doctoral Program to request approval of the selections.  Be sure to identify why you selected each member.  The Assistant Dean will then prepare a letter for the Director's, School of Nursing, approval of your committee.  The signed approval letter from the Director will then be sent to you with copies to each member of your committee and the Assistant Dean.
  2. Work directly with the Chair until he/she is satisfied that the proposal is ready to be sent to the dissertation readers.  With the permission of your Chair, meet with readers and provide them with the draft proposal approved by your Chair.  It is common for faculty members to take about 2 weeks to critique and return drafts of the proposal.  Thistimeframe is variable.  Check with your committee members to see whattimeframe works best for each of them.  This action on your part will allow you to manage your own time on the proposal.
  3. Once the readers have each become satisfied with the revisions you have made on the proposal draft (this often takes several iterations), the Chair will let you know when you are ready for the Oral Defense of the Dissertation Proposal.  It is your responsibility to maintain communication with your Chair and committee members throughout the process.
  4. When your Chair confirms that you are ready to defend your proposal, you then set up a date for this academic exercise.  Individuals who must be present for the defense are the Dissertation Chair; the Assistant Dean, Doctoral Division; and your Committee.  Therefore, you will need to contact each of these individuals to work out a date when all can be present.  The Administrative Assistant for the doctoral program can help you reserve a room.  Oral defenses may be scheduled during the Academic Year (August 24-May 25).
  5. Two weeks (14 days) prior to the defense,submit a paper copy of the final draft of the pre-defense proposal in a3-ring binder to the doctoral program office.  Be sure each committee member has the latest version.  Find out if they prefer paper or email copies.  The contents of this submission include:  Chapters 1, 2, 3, copies of any instruments to be used as well as your completed application form for the Human Subjects Review Board here at Mason and Institutional Review Board applications for any sites where you intend to collect data.  No submissions to HSRBs or IRBsare permitted until you have successfully completed your Oral Defense of the Dissertation Proposal. 
  6. During the Oral Defense of the Dissertation Proposal you will provide the group with a short (approximately 20 minute)presentation of your proposal.  The Chair, Assistant Dean, and Committee will then ask questions and make recommendations to support your pursuit of an excellent proposal.  This exercise is conducted to help you launch your Program of Research.
  7. Bring to the defense the Defense Proposal Approval form obtained from the PhD website.  Be sure to complete the form prior to the defense(handwritten versions no longer accepted).  Your Chair will decide whether the form is to be signed the day of the defense or later after revisions.
  8. Within 3 days, you then send to the members of the group (via email attachment), a summary of the recommendations made at your defense.  If needed, the members of the group will send back any clarification of these recommendations.
  9. Within 2 weeks of the defense, you provide the Chair, the Assistant Dean, and the Committee with updated versions that include the recommended revisions.  Exceptions to this time line are the discretion of the Chair.
  10. Your Chair will then decide when your HSRB application is ready for her/his signature and give you the “go ahead” to send it forward. 
  11. Once you receive HSRBapproval, you are ready to go forward with the implementation of your excellent research proposal.  A word to the wise:  Continue to stay in close communication with your Chair and Committee.

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Information Sessions

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PhD Dissertation Overviews

The following PhD in Nursing students completed their dissertation in Spring of 2014. Learn more about their dissertation research using the video links below.

Sue BhatiThe Effect of The Sleep Support for Moms' Intervention on Postpartum Sleep and Postpartum Depression
Dr. Sue Bhati

Kathy ChappellThe Relationship Between New Graduate Nurses and Their Transition Program Between School and Clinical Practice
Dr. Kathy Chappell

Sandra RogersDescription of the Moderate Brain Injured Patient and Predictors of Discharge to Rehabilitation
Dr. Sandy Rogers