Fourth Year Milestone

section III, article 6-C

Taken together, the pre-proposals, the original research proposal, and the proposal writing course provide scholars with a solid foundation in creating and communicating original research. The next step is the dissertation!

All fourth year scholars must present and defend an original research proposal in the first semester of the fourth year. It is essential that the proposal not overlap significantly with any ongoing research at Emory. 


Scholars should base their proposal on one of the three pre-proposals completed during the Third Year Milestone. If a scholar choses to develop a new proposal not previously presented as a pre-proposal, they must discuss the new topic with the committee and request feedback before developing the proposal. Feedback should address whether the new topic is sufficiently far removed from ongoing work in the scholar’s research group.

Format and Content

A written paper is due to your committee one week before the oral presentation. The format of the written proposal should be similar to the project description of an NIH postdoctoral fellowship application.

The oral presentation (25-30 minutes) should:

  1. Clearly define the proposed problem and how the proposed research would be accomplished;
  2. Include approximately one dozen PowerPoint slides or other visual aids.

The scholar is responsible for scheduling a date, time, and location for the oral defense with their committee and for ensuring the location meets any technology needs.

Assessment Criteria

Scholars should review the assessment criteria on the Fourth Year Milestone grading form.

Assessment Timeline

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Next: Fifth Year+ Degree Completion Plan