Concordia University

PhD in Business Administration

Thesis proposal & approval

Once the Thesis Proposal has been approved the supervisor must submit the completed Thesis Approval form to the PhD Program Office.

Please review the Thesis Preparation and Thesis Examination Regulations  handbook from the school of Graduate Studies for more details.

Thesis Grant Support can be requested by students who are in the Phase III of the program and within six years of enrolment.

The thesis proposal is an essential part of the evaluation process which spells out the student’s work activities and study goals for a six-month to one year period. The thesis proposal document is also thought of as a contract between the supervisor and the student. It is not intended to be legally binding on either party rather it is a statement of intent by the student to perform certain tasks (e.g., experiments, surveys). Given the uncertain nature of the research process one expects to encounter problems and opportunities which cause the research to deviate from an original objective, however, the thesis proposal should set upper and lower limits around what is to be done. Significant deviations from a proposal should be embodied in a new thesis proposal.

Generally, the thesis proposal is a comprehensive double spaced plan of between 6 and 10 pages and could contain the following elements: (From: C.W. Emory & D.R. Cooper, Business Research Methods, Irwin, 1991)

A Problem Statement or Research Question

The statement or question sets a boundary around the proposed study. It states the problem to be addressed or the question under investigation. The statement will include any restrictions or areas of the problem that will not be addressed. It is important that the problem be distinct from related problems and that the reader can adequately assess the scope, depth, and limits of the proposed research. The statement also communicates the significance or importance of the research.

Research Objectives

Specifies the precise objectives and purpose of the research, usually in order of importance. This section is used to verify the internal consistency of the proposal by checking to see that each objective is discussed in the research design.

Literature Review

Contains a preliminary assessment of the significant literature; the relevant research findings, industry reports, company data, and government documents pertaining to your problem area. At this stage the intention is not to be exhaustive but to identify the main themes and the important and relevant bodies of literature. If your supervisor prefers an extensive review, you may consider relegating it to an appendix.

Research Design and Methodology

Spells out exactly what you are going to do in technical terms and the rationale for doing it. This section will probably contain several subsections to show the phases of the project (e.g., sampling procedures, data collection procedures, measurement issues, data analysis, and theoretical basis for using the chosen techniques).


Includes a description of the major phases or key activities of the project and an estimated target completion date.


Since it is important to consider the costs of conducting research, the budget identifies major research costs and explains the way they are to be funded.

Approving a Thesis Research Proposal

When the Phase III committee judges that the student is ready to present his/her thesis proposal, the supervisor should contact the PhD Program Office to establish an appropriate date for the presentation, allowing at least one month (20 working days) for notification of all interested parties. "Interested parties" include all Faculty and PhD students at JMSB and the other 3 affiliated universities.

The student must send an electronic copy to the PhD Program Office at JMSB, which will be distributed to the Phase II Committee members and to the three affiliated universities.

The proposal presentation is open to all to attend and ask questions.

After the thesis proposal presentation, the Phase III Supervisor notifies the PhD Program Office of the committee's decision as follows:

  1. proposal accepted as is
  2. proposal accepted with modifications (including details of major or minor modifications required)
  3. proposal rejected (reasons must be provided)

Back to top Back to top

© Concordia University