Preparing for the DAC Meeting

A student’s first DAC meeting should take place no later than 6 months past the completion of the qualifying exam, but it can certainly occur much earlier, if it is appropriate.  One week prior to the meeting, students must submit to their DAC a written proposal (approximately 10 pages) describing their dissertation project for the committee to review in advance of the meeting.  The format for the proposal is similar to that of the qualifying examination, i.e. abstract, background and significance, hypothesis, rationale, specific aims, experimental design and interpretation, references, and figures, but far less formal in nature and containing real data from the work that has been done.

One week prior to each subsequent DAC meeting, students must prepare a written progress report, detailing research progress made since the prior DAC meeting.


  • The student’s written DAC report should be ~2-10 pages, including figures and/or tables.  The initial DAC report is typically ~5-10 pages, while subsequent reports are typically ~2-4 pages.
  • Use at least 11 point font.
  • Figures with legends are highly encouraged because they generally add clarity.
  • The DAC report for the anticipated final DAC meeting should include an outline for the dissertation.

Students should also prepare an oral presentation (such as a slide/ powerpoint talk) to be given at the DAC meeting that will serve as a focal point for discussion among the committee members, the faculty advisor, and the student.

Students should also ensure that they have updated their Individual Development Plans (IDPs) and carried out an IDP meeting with their IDP Mentors (usually their dissertation research advisors) within the prior 12 months leading up to the DAC meeting.

DAC meetings generally require a block of 1.5 -2 hours to be set aside to allow for complete discussion. 

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