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The final PhD requirement is to write a dissertation and defend it before the dissertation committee.

Graduate School Requirements

The Graduate School maintains specific policies and procedures around graduation and they can be found in the Graduate School Handbook.

Each semester the Graduate School sets deadlines for applying to graduate and dissertation submission. These deadlines can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

Degrees are conferred in May, August, or December, but there are commencement ceremonies in May and December only. Students whose degrees are conferred in August may participate in the December commencement. There is a single doctoral hooding ceremony in May of each year, the day before commencement. Students whose degrees are conferred in May or in the previous August or December may participate in the hooding ceremony. Students that expect to complete graduation requirements after the spring semester deadline are not eligible to be hooded until the following May.

Scheduling the defense

To schedule a defense the following must be met:

  1. All CBP requirements must be completed, this includes the publication requirement.
  2. Approval from the dissertation committee in writing.
  3. Notification of the Student Services Manager with time, date, location, and title of dissertation.

Dissertation format

Formatting of the dissertation is set by the Graduate School, and they maintain a Thesis and Dissertation Guide. Students are advised to be knowledgeable of the formatting requirements as the Graduate School must accept their dissertation by the stated deadline and this requires the dissertation is properly formatted.

The content of the dissertation is determined by the student, the advisor(s), and the committee. In general, the dissertation should be a complete record of the research performed by the student during their doctoral training.

A completed dissertation must be submitted to the entire dissertation committee at least two weeks in advance of the public dissertation seminar.

The defense

In the Cell Biology and Physiology Curriculum, the defense occurs in two parts. The first is a public dissertation seminar where the student presents their dissertation research to the public as an hour-long seminar.

Immediately following the public seminar, the student meets in private with the dissertation committee. During this private defense the student is questioned extensively and judged for their mastery of their dissertation material. The exact format and length of the private defense is at the discretion of the dissertation committee.

Responsibilities of Student

  • Obtain written permission from the committee to schedule a defense after all other CBP requirements are met.
  • Schedule the defense and reserve a room for both the public seminar and private defense. Be sure to reach out to the Student Services Manager before finalizing to ensure there is no overlap with department or curriculum events such as other defenses, seminars, or meetings.
  • Notify the Student Services Manager of time, date, room, and dissertation title at least three weeks in advance for proper advertising to occur.
  • Distribute the completed written dissertation to the entire committee at least two weeks in advance of the public seminar. Provide paper copies to committee members upon request.
  • Revise the dissertation as directed by the committee, including obtaining final approval for submission to the Graduate School
  • Submit the approved dissertation to the Graduate School following their published guidelines.

Responsibilities of Advisor(s)

  • Determine if the written dissertation is appropriate for circulation to the rest of the dissertation committee.
  • Ensure that any requested edits to the dissertation are made by the student.

Responsibilities of Dissertation Committee Chair

  • Run the private defense meeting and lead discussion of whether the student has passed and what, if any, edits are needed to the student’s written dissertation.
  • Ensure that any requested edits to the dissertation are made by the student.

Responsibilities of Other Committee Members

  • Read and evaluate the written dissertation, providing written feedback to the student.
  • Prepare questions about the student’s dissertation research, the written dissertation, and the field.

Approve the final version of the dissertation.