Completion of the written dissertation

The dissertation should be prepared in a form that is essentially ready to submit for publication in appropriate journals. Publication of results is strongly encouraged. The format of the dissertation must conform to the university’s official policy on the production of Ph.D. dissertations (Appendix 4).

Dissertation defense

The dissertation defense can be scheduled no sooner than eight months from the date of completion of the qualifying examination and appointment of the research committee. The research committee and student must come to an agreement that the dissertation is at a stage that is suitable for defense, based on drafts of the dissertation submitted to the committee.

An announcement of the dissertation defense must be submitted to the University Graduate School a minimum of 30 days prior to the defense date. They recommend you start the process six weeks before the planned defense date. An example of the format required is included in Appendix 4. Two weeks prior to the defense a copy of the dissertation must be placed in the front office of the department for public perusal. The defense itself consists of a public presentation of the dissertation research that any interested faculty and students may attend, followed by an open session of questions and discussion, after which the student’s Research Committee conducts a rigorous closed-session, oral examination of the student.

The result of the defense is determined as a pass, conditional pass, a deferred decision, or a failure without the option to retake. The conditional pass usually requires revisions of the dissertation as recommended by the research committee, and a deferred decision indicates that the opinion of the research committee was not unanimous, a circumstance that requires reports from the research committee detailing the differing opinions to the Dean of the Graduate School.

After a successful defense, the Graduate Office needs to receive (i) one signed copy of the dissertation abstract, and (ii) one signed dissertation. Students should plan to submit the final version of their dissertation electronically to the University Graduate School as soon as possible.

Timeframe for completion

The Ph.D. dissertation must be accepted by the student’s research committee and a copy must be submitted to the University Graduate School within seven years of passing the qualifying examination. Failure to do so will result in termination of Ph.D. candidacy. Reinstatement of candidacy is possible and involves obtaining permission of the department chairperson, fulfilling any reinstatement requirements from the department, passing the qualifying examination again, and then requesting reinstatement from the Dean. Once reinstated, the degree must be completed within three years.