When the major professor is satisfied with the completed dissertation, he or she will certify that it has his or her approval and is ready to be read. The major professor will then distribute copies of the dissertation to the remaining members of the advisory committee and schedule a final oral defense. The graduate coordinator must notify the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense. Subsequently, the Graduate School will announce the time and place of the defense of the dissertation to the University community. The committee members must have three weeks to read and evaluate the completed dissertation.
Written assent of the committee members (other than the major professor) will be required before a dissertation will be approved as ready for a final defense. No more than one dissenting vote may be allowed for the approval of the dissertation. If the advisory committee declines to approve the dissertation as ready for the final defense, the major professor will notify the student and the Graduate School.
The defense of the dissertation will be chaired by the student’s major professor and attended by all members of the advisory committee simultaneously for the entire defense period. The defense will consist of a public presentation followed by a private defense during which only the student and advisory committee will be in attendance. The public presentation is open to anyone who wishes to attend. The student and committee chair must appear in person for both components of the defense**, but other committee members can participate via teleconference or video conference, provided that the comments of all participants can clearly and consistently be heard. If the major professor is not able to attend the defense in person, they can designate a substitute chair who is a current member of the committee. The advisory committee must approve the student’s dissertation and defense with no more than one dissenting vote and must certify their approval in writing. An abstention is not allowable for the final defense. The results of the defense of the dissertation must be reported to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to graduation for the current semester. If a University program would like to deviate from the above policy, the following steps must be taken: (1) request approval from the Graduate School for the revised policy that will be used for program level defenses, (2) documentation in the program’s handbook on the revised policy approved by the Graduate School for the program. Such deviations must be applied to all students in the program.
Once the dissertation has been approved by the advisory committee and the final oral examination has been passed, the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School for final approval no later than two weeks prior to graduation of the following semester. Dissertations which are not submitted by this deadline must be defended again and approved by the advisory committee before they will be considered by the Graduate School for final approval.
**The Graduate Council voted August 26, 2020 to extend the policy to allow all oral exams and thesis / dissertation defenses to be held remotely through the end of Spring 2021. Students and departments also have the option to meet in person if social distancing practices allow.**