The Leeds PhD Program focuses on developing the necessary skills for the design and execution of original, innovative research, and for the dissemination of knowledge through teaching and writing. To accomplish this, PhD students must fulfill several important research requirements throughout their residence in the program.

Leeds faculty are actively engaged in cutting-edge research and scholarship. They enjoy working with PhD students and view their mentoring role as an integral part of their scholarship.

Research Assistant Assignments

A fundamental part of a doctoral education is working closely with faculty on research projects. During most semesters a PhD student will be assigned to faculty research projects as a research assistant. This introduces students to the practice and process of academic research under the guidance of experienced faculty. Research assistant assignments are made each semester in consultation with division faculty and doctoral students.

Summer Research Projects

During the first two summers of their enrollment, PhD students are expected to work on significant research projects that result in conference presentations and publishable papers. During at least one of the two summers, students are expected to apply for and be awarded a Gerald Hart Summer Research Fellowship. A requirement of the Hart Fellowship is that a paper resulting from the research be presented at a Leeds School workshop during the academic year following the award.


PhD students normally undertake the writing of a dissertation during the third through fifth years of their doctoral residency. Dissertation topics are usually identified through coursework, through research projects with faculty, and from a student's own interests. It is important that your dissertation topic have the support and interest of the faculty in your area in order for you to make good progress toward its completion. Students select a dissertation advisor from the faculty whose research and interests match those of the proposed dissertation.

Most faculty members enjoy working with PhD students and are pleased when asked to work with a student as a dissertation advisor. While working with the dissertation advisor, the PhD student will prepare a Dissertation Proposal that is formally reviewed by a five member faculty committee during an oral presentation. The dissertation committee may make recommendations for modifying the plan. Once the dissertation committee approves a proposal, it becomes a template for completing the dissertation. Upon completion of the dissertation and with approval of the dissertation advisor, the student will present and defend the dissertation during a formal oral Dissertation Defense presented to the dissertation committee, and other interested faculty and students. The committee may either approve the defense or ask that additional work be accomplished before granting approval

Research Papers & Publications

In addition to successful completion of a dissertation, PhD students are well-advised to complete and submit several research papers for publication prior to graduation. Faculty typically provide students with ample coauthoring opportunities during the course of the program. These papers can be from summer research projects, from dissertation research, or from other research projects. Papers may be co-authored with faculty and/or other PhD students, or may be solo efforts. Placement prospects are much brighter for those students with submitted and published papers.