Upon successful completion of course work and Parts One and Two of the General Examination, and pending the recommendation of the Doctor of Sustainable Urbanism Standing Committee, students advance to candidacy and work toward the completion, final oral defense, and revision of their dissertation leading to graduation.

Each student assembles a dissertation committee that includes a designated committee chair with whom the student works closely throughout the dissertation research and preparation for his or her dissertation defense. Within a semester of passing the General Examinations, candidates are expected to submit a ten- to fifteen-page preliminary dissertation research proposal. Within one year of passing the General Examinations, a full proposal must be submitted for approval by the dissertation committee, and the candidate must present the proposal in a departmental colloquium.