Final Oral Exam (Dissertation Defense)

This two-hour examination is held after the Dissertation Committee has approved the dissertation by signing the Draft Approval Form, available from the Graduate School. The Draft Approval Form must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than two weeks before the date of the Final Oral Examination. At the time the student submits the Draft Approval Form, he or she must also present a hard copy of the approved dissertation draft to both the Graduate School (for the purposes of format check) and the Dissertation Committee members.

The oral examination deals intensively with the candidate's field of specialization and need not be confined exclusively to the dissertation defense. A successful examination is one that is awarded a "pass" by the entire examining committee, including the outside Representative, who is appointed by the Graduate School. This Representative must receive a hard copy of the approved dissertation draft at least one week in advance of the examination.

Time Limits for Candidacy

If a candidate fails to complete the dissertation and final oral examination within five years after the Candidacy Examination, admission to candidacy is canceled. To be readmitted to candidacy the student must take a supplementary Candidacy Examination. This supplementary examination will typically be tied to the student's dissertation and may consist of the presentation and oral defense of a chapter or a substantial part of a chapter. In short, the purpose of requiring the supplemental Candidacy Examination is not to punish the student but to help move him or her along to completion of the Ph.D. and to ensure that he or she has kept up with the current scholarship in the field. On passing the supplementary Candidacy Examination, the student is readmitted to candidacy and must complete the dissertation and final oral examination within two years.