Following completion of the dissertation research, the student will write a dissertation that documents the entire project as a scholarly work. The formal defense of the dissertation is a two stage event. The first stage is a closed oral examination of the student by the Dissertation Guidance Committee. The committee can at its discretion invite a few additional persons with particular interest or expertise in the subject to observe the formal defense. The dissertation will be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to this examination. Following the closed oral examination, the student will schedule a public presentation of the dissertation research to which the entire academic community is invited. This event will follow the closed committee defense by no less than one month. During the intervening period the student should make all corrections in the dissertation document as agreed upon by the committee, process all necessary paperwork associated with receiving the Ph.D. degree from the Graduate School.
The dissertation defense is a rigorous examination of the candidate's knowledge not only about their dissertation, but about related aspects of neuroscience, and fundamental scientific principles that are related to the work.