Students will usually have one primary faculty advisor for the dissertation, as well as two or more secondary advisors, who will be members of the student's "dissertation committee".  Students must meet regularly with their advisors, and try to adhere to an appropriate schedule for the completion of their work.  While writing the dissertation, students are also strongly encouraged to work with their peers, in the Dissertation Workshop.  Regular contact with advisors, and regular participation in the workshop, are important ways that dissertation writers can get essential feedback on their work in progress, and remain part of the intellectual community around them.

The dissertation must be completed by the end of the fifth year. Students who have not completed the dissertation within five years of first registering for dissertation tuition are required to submit a revised dissertation Prospectus and to repeat that portion of the Preliminary Examination that involves defending the proposal before a committee of at least three examiners. The revised Prospectus must include an account of the current state of scholarship on the topic and an up-to-date bibliography.