Milestone Forms

The degree requires completion of 84 credit hours, of which 12 hours are for dissertation. Students may apply up to 30 hours from a prior master’s degree towards the total hour requirement upon approval of the program steering committee. Each student, with his or her Supervisory Committee, develops a unique plan of study, which the student’s Supervisory Committee approves.

Each student completes the following coursework and milestones. There are no foreign language or statistics requirements, except as needed for a particular student’s selected dissertation project.


RequirementsCredit Hours
HSD 601: Human Dimensions of Science and Technology4
HSD 602: Science, Power and Politics4
HSD 692: Research (Second-Year Research Project)6
HSD 610: Colloquium4
Coursework for Field 19
Coursework for Field 29
Coursework for Field 36
Courses for Methods Training0-6
Electives or HSD 792: Research21-27
HSD 790: Dissertation Prospectus3
HSD 799: Dissertation12

Core Seminar (8 hours)

All first-year students participate in a yearlong seminar, HSD 601 and HSD 602, to provide them with a thorough introduction to the literature on the human and social dimensions of science and technology, as well as core research tools and an overview of the major HSD methods. The Core Seminar also provides skills in planning and conducting research, individually and in research teams, and involves projects that help students learn skills in communicating and working with scientists and engineers, policy and community officials, and/or the public.

Colloquium (4 hours)

The colloquium is a regular series designed to create opportunities for the exchange of ideas among all members of the HSD community. It has a range of activities, including student or faculty member presentations, community discussions, and outside speakers. To strengthen the interdisciplinary character of the program and to take advantage of speakers or events of mutual interest, the colloquium may meet jointly with one or more other series (e.g., Biology and Society Lab or CSPO Enlightening Lunch).

Each semester the colloquium is offered for one credit as HSD 610: Colloquium. Students take at least four credits of HSD 610.

Second-Year Research Project (6 hours)

During the second year, students pursue a major, guided, original research project designed to provide them with essential research skills and demonstrate their mastery of these skills. This project includes a research proposal, data collection and analysis, and the completion of a research paper of publishable quality or an equivalent scholarly work. The project must also involve at least some level of collaboration or engagement with scientists and/or engineers, policy and/or community officials, and/or members of the public.

Fields (24 hours)

In consultation with the student’s Supervisory Committee, each student develops three distinct Fields to provide the in-depth training necessary to formulate and carry out his or her dissertation research. Each student completes two major and one minor Field. Major Fields consist of the equivalent of three courses of specialized work (either in existing elective courses or through independent reading or research projects) designed to achieve mastery of a particular intellectual subject. The minor field consists of the equivalent of two courses of specialized work. For each field, the Supervisory Committee and student select a Field Director, who is the member of the student’s Supervisory Committee responsible for working with the student to determine field content as well as the format for demonstrating mastery of the field, such as a field exam, field paper, or exemplary course paper.

Methods Training (0-6 hours)

Methods training occurs in two stages. The yearlong Core Seminar, HSD 601 and HSD 602, provides HSD students with broad introductory knowledge of HSD research methods including:

  • The interpretation of work in the major methodological traditions within HSD, including historical, philosophical, policy/political, and ethnographic methods
  • The formulation of research questions
  • The selection of appropriate research methods for addressing specific research questions
  • The development of effective research work plans

The second stage of methods training is defined by each student and her/his Supervisory Committee and involves the selection and inclusion in the student’s plan of study of specific methods courses, as necessary, to adequately prepare the student for his or her dissertation research. With the approval of the Supervisory Committee, courses may meet both Methods Training and Field requirements.

Electives and Research (21-27 hours)

Elective courses may supplement Fields or be used to explore related areas of interest. Students take many elective courses from HSD Faculty members, although humanities, social science, or science coursework, not specifically in the area of the human and social dimensions of science and technology but necessary for a student to develop skills or knowledge to undertake his or her research, may also be appropriate. Students register for directed research hours, preparatory to completing a dissertation, with their Supervisory Committee chair or another appropriate faculty member.

400-Level Courses

No more than 6 hours of 400-level courses may be counted in the plan of study.

Dissertation Prospectus (3 hours)

Each student develops a written Dissertation Prospectus, including a bibliography, discussion of relevant research skills, and a brief (less than one page) description of each Field completed and how mastery was demonstrated. The Dissertation Prospectus shows that the student can integrate and synthesize the knowledge and skills developed through coursework and apply them to the development of a research project.

Dissertation (12 hours)

Each student collects and analyzes data and writes a dissertation.


  1. Completing the Second-Year Research Project
  2. Filing the Plan of Study
  3. Demonstration of Mastery for Three Fields
  4. Defense of the Dissertation Prospectus
  5. Defense of the Dissertation

Completing the Second-Year Research Project

When a student’s second-year project committee is satisfied that the project is complete, the student files the “Second-Year Project Completion Form.” Students complete their second-year projects no later than the end of the fifth semester. 

Filing the Plan of Study

During the fourth semester, each student develops, in collaboration with the student’s Supervisory Committee, a plan of study. In addition to the Graduate College’s formal plan of study, the student and his or her committee should agree on topics for the Second-Year Research Project and the student’s Fields.

Students may not complete more than 42 hours towards the degree without an approved plan of study.

Sample Plan of Study

Courses (84 hours required)Hours credited to degree
Year 1 FallHSD 601: Humans Dimensions of Science and Technology (4)
Field 1 (3)
Field 2 (3)
HSD 610: Colloquium (1)
Electives or HSD 792: Research (4)
Year 1 SpringHSD 602: Science, Power and Politics (4)
Field 1 (3)
Field 3 (3)
HSD 610: Colloquium (1)
Electives or HSD 792: Research (4)
Year 2 FallField 1 (3)
Field 2 (3)
HSD 692: Research (Second-Year Research Project) (3)
HSD 610: Colloquium (1)
Electives or HSD 792: Research (5)
Year 2 SpringField 2 (3)
Field 3 (3)
HSD 692: Research (Second-Year Research Project) (3)
HSD 610: Colloquium (1)
Electives or HSD 792: Research (5)
Year 3 FallHSD 790: Dissertation Prospectus (3)
Elective or HSD 792: Research (9)
Year 3 SpringHSD 799: Dissertation (12)12
Year 4 FallHSD 795: Continuing Registration1
Year 4 SpringHSD 795: Continuing Registration1
Year 4 SpringHSD 795: Continuing Registration1
Year 5 SpringHSD 795: Continuing Registration1

Demonstration of Mastery for Three Fields

After the completion of coursework or other assigned activities for three Fields, each student demonstrates mastery of those Fields. The student’s Supervisory Committee assesses mastery, in a format developed by the committee and the student. Common formats for demonstrating mastery of a field include a field exam, a field paper, or an exemplary course paper. The student and his or her Supervisory Committee determine the timing of demonstration of mastery of each of the three Fields; the demonstrations need not occur at the same time.

Defense of the Dissertation Prospectus

The student makes an oral defense of the Dissertation Prospectus to his or her Supervisory Committee, which must approve the Prospectus. The writing and defense of the prospectus constitute the written and oral comprehensive examinations required by the Graduate College for advancement to candidacy. In accordance with Graduate College policy, this comprehensive exam is formally scheduled through the Graduate College. Students normally complete the Dissertation Prospectus and its defense in the sixth or seventh semester.

Defense of the Dissertation

The student makes an oral defense of the Dissertation to his or her Supervisory Committee, which must approve the Dissertation.

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