Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop

2018 Call for Applications | 2017 Workshop | 2017 Participant Comments

The Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop offers intensive training designed to address the achievement gap in advanced degrees in the social sciences by providing competitively selected students from underrepresented populations with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to prepare a dissertation proposal. The week-long workshop, held at Howard University and jointly organized by the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) and Howard University's Center on Race and Wealth (CRW), is supported by funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Participants are mentored in preparing a rigorous dissertation proposal, including crafting a clear problem statement, purpose, research questions, and hypotheses; writing a succinct literature review; strong methodology section, which describes the research design and its rationale; and clear, logical, and feasible empirical strategy. The training includes diverse research methods, formulation of research questions and associated hypotheses, databases and their construction and availability, and quantitative and qualitative methods for hypothesis testing. By the end of the workshop, participants will have planned their research proposal and received feedback from faculty to refine it for the purposes of seeking funding or developing their dissertation.

2018 Workshop and Call for Applications

The Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) and the Center on Race and Wealth (CRW), Howard University, are calling for applications for the second annual Summer Dissertation Proposal Workshop, to be held at Howard University, Washington, DC, May 20–26, 2018.

Applicants should submit a brief letter of interest describing their research aims and what they hope to learn from the workshop. A letter of recommendation from their primary advisor is also required and will be solicited directly by the CRW and IRP, upon provision of the advisor's name and email address by the applicant. Applicants must be pre-dissertation proposal doctoral students from underrepresented racial or ethnic populations (Black, Hispanic, Native American) studying at U.S. universities. Funding for travel, meals, and lodging at Howard University (for students residing outside of the DC area) will be provided to 12 successful applicants.

Applications are due December 31, 2017 via the online application form.

See the full call for applications.

Workshop participants: (Seated L-R): Michelle Dovil, Howard University, Sociology and Criminology/Sociology; Ed-Dee Williams, University of Michigan, Social Work and Sociology; Jarrett Davis, Cleveland State University, Urban Studies/Transportation; Tierra James, Kent State University, Sociology; (Standing L-R): LaToya Council, University of Southern California, Sociology; Judith Williams, Florida International University, Global and Sociocultural Studies/Cultural Anthropology; Sarah Halpern-Meekin, UW–Madison; Tennecia Dacass, Kansas State University, Economics; Erica Banks, Northwestern University, Sociology; Janet Griffin-Graves, Howard University; Rodney Green, Howard University; Julia Gutierrez, Arizona State University, Gender Studies; Haydar Kurban, Howard University; Ashley Smith, UW–Madison, Educational Policy Studies; Charles Betsey Howard University; Ajenai Clemmons, Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy, Political Science Concentration; Andrae Banks, Washington University in St. Louis, Social Work; Lawrence (Lonnie) Berger, UW–Madison; and Marcy Jagdeo, Howard University, Economics.

Not Pictured: Antoine Lovell, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Social Work; and Kimberly Harper, Howard University Graduate School Arts & Science, Political Science/Technology Policy.

2017 Workshop

Agenda and Presentations | Participant Comments

The first annual Summer Dissertation Workshop took place May 21–27, 2017, at Howard University, Washington, DC (see the agenda).

The workshop was taught by Lawrence Berger, IRP Director and Chair of the UW–Madison School of Social Work doctoral program; Charles Betsey and Rodney Green, CRW Codirectors and economics faculty; Sarah Halpern-Meekin, UW–Madison Department of Human Development and Family Studies; Janet Griffin-Graves, CRW Program Director; and Howard University's Haydar Kurban, Department of Economics.

Workshop presentations have been made available and are linked on the agenda page.


2017 Participant Comments

  • I want to express my sincere appreciation to the organizers of the Howard-IRP Summer Dissertation Workshop. This workshop imparted invaluable knowledge on how to write a good dissertation proposal in addition to lessons on the mindset and psychology needed to complete such an extensive project. I appreciate the time and care the mentors took to read my work as they provided me with thoughtful, detailed feedback. The constructive criticism and innovative ideas received from such an informed group of academics, has certainly added value to my research. I would therefore like to extend my gratitude to University of Wisconsin and Howard University for offering such an inspiring and productive forum for graduate students.
  • Summer Dissertation Workshop was an incredible gift for which I am deeply thankful. It was exactly the information I needed to know, at the precise time I needed to know it, and was delivered in an optimal learning environment by the nation's leading academics. I arrived not knowing my research questions and left armed with a dissertation proposal.
  • It was incredibly refreshing to be in an academic space with students and colleagues of similar identities and not feel the pressures of competition. Everyone in this space was incredibly supportive, humble, and caring. The sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise was invaluable. The natural kinship between the visiting students was a vital part of making this an incredible experience.
  • I really enjoyed attending the IRP workshop. To be in a supportive space with other PhD students of color as well as supportive faculty who share similar goals and visions was amazing. I received some incredibly useful suggestions for my dissertation proposal, especially in regards to my methodology and research questions. I believe attending this workshop gave me a "head start" on my dissertation proposal process as I am just finishing up my second year, and I know that will serve me well as I progress through my program.
  • The Summer Dissertation Workshop at Howard University was extremely helpful. My research questions became clearer and the mentors are dedicated to supporting future scholars.
  • My experience attending Howard University's Center on Wealth and the Institute for Research on Poverty Summer Dissertation Workshop was transformational. The design of the workshop encouraged creativity and collaboration among emerging scholars. I was able to conceptualize my dissertation proposal and walk out with a clear research question and an appropriate research method for my study. Further, the mentors assigned to each emerging scholar were supportive and helped clarify the dissertation process.

Funding for this workshop was made possible in part by Cooperative Agreement number AE00103 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.