Defending Your Paper

Thesis or Dissertation Defense

The procedures for dissertation submission and defense are as follows:

  1. When the Advisory Committee agrees that the dissertation is ready for defense and is in acceptable form, a student fills out the Departmental Scheduling of Final Oral Exam form and obtains signatures of the Advisory Committee members. (Although the chair of your committee should have read and responded to your dissertation throughout its preparation, it is recommended that the Advisory Committee not read it until it is in a completed form.)
  2. Submit this form and a copy of the dissertation to the graduate coordinator.
  3. The graduate secretary will schedule the examination and notify the examination committee and the student.
  4. The student provides each member of the examining committee with a copy of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to the date of the examination. The forms for submitting a dissertation are available in the department office. University policy is that the committee have at least two weeks to review the dissertation.
  5. The oral defense is open to the public. The student may be asked to first present a brief introductory overview of the research for the benefit of those not familiar with the work and then present technical details at greater length. At the discretion of the examining Committee chair, the public may be permitted to ask questions. At the conclusion of the presentation, the public will be excused and the examination Committee may address any technical issues, clarifications, or additional requirements, if any, with the student. The examination Committee will then excuse the student and vote for one of the following options:
    • Pass.
    • Qualified pass---minor revisions are specified by the Committee. These revisions are made by the student and certified by the examining Committee chair.
    • Recess---revisions are major enough to require a reconvening of the entire committee at most one month later. Only one recess is permitted for a defense.
    • Fail---the graduate degree program of the student is terminated without a degree granted.

  6. After all revisions are finished, a Departmental Approval For Submission of Dissertations for Binding form is completed, signed, and submitted to the graduate secretary. Only one original set of signature pages is required, the others may be Xeroxed onto bond paper. The student pays a binding fee and the costs of a minimum of four bound copies.

Submitting the Thesis or Dissertation

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Here is a checklist for completing a thesis or dissertation under the electronic (ETD) system.