Dissertation defense

After preparation of the written dissertation, the candidate’s dissertation committee will conduct a dissertation defense. A dissertation defense may be scheduled only during the regular academic terms, no later than five weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation in which the degree will be granted (i.e., must be completed four weeks before the beginning of finals week). For summer term graduation, deadlines apply to the regular eight-week summer session dates. Later completion will result in graduation in a subsequent term. The student must deliver a final draft of the dissertation to all members of the approved committee no fewer than 14 days before the dissertation defense.

The dissertation defense, which is open to the public, is the culminating experience in the doctoral studies. The candidate is expected to prepare an oral presentation on the research methodology and results. The oral presentation should not exceed 60 minutes. Following the oral presentation, the candidate must defend the dissertation as a worthy contribution to knowledge in its field and must demonstrate a mastery of the field of specialization as it is related to the dissertation. The questioning and discussion are for the purpose of: (1) further enlightenment of the candidate and the committee of the significance and limitations of the research, and (2) demonstration that the candidate has met the high expectations of the University for the awarding of the doctoral degree.

A dissertation defense must take place in a meeting with the student and the entire, appointed committee. While it is expected that all members should be physically present, remote participation is permitted under specific conditions. For dissertation approval, there may be no more than one dissenting vote on the dissertation defense. If the student fails the dissertation defense, the doctoral program may dismiss the student from the program or permit the student to hold a second defense after a minimum of three months. The results of the second defense are final.

The final dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School not later than three weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation. See the Graduate Candidate Deadlines for specific dates. For details about thesis formatting and submission, see the Thesis and Dissertation Information available from the Graduate School.