Dissertation and Final Defense

A satisfactory final oral examination is required for the approval of a dissertation. You should begin to schedule your final oral at least two months in advance to ensure all your committee members can attend.

Not less than four weeks before the date on which you intend to defend your dissertation a copy of the final draft of the dissertation, reviewed for technical and grammatical correctness, should be submitted to each member of the dissertation committee, after approval by your supervisor.

Two weeks prior to the defense date a written request to hold the final oral examination must be submitted to the Graduate School in MAI 101. The form is available here.   It is no longer required to be printed on pink paper. This request signifies the receipt of the doctoral dissertation for the purpose of administering the examination. The committee’s decision to hold the examination must be unanimous. After all of the committee members have signed the document, the Graduate Adviser must sign the form before you submit it to the Graduate School. In the event that you cannot get the signatures from one of the committee members, the Graduate Adviser or your supervisor may sign by proxy on their behalf, provided that you produce documentation from this committee member indicating that 1) they have received your dissertation and 2) they will attend your oral defense at the prescribed time. In addition, you must reserve a room for the defense. Students usually hold their defense at their primary research location. If you are in ETC you may email Lauren Thompson to reserve a room. Be sure you send your dissertation title, abstract, date, and time of defense in MS Word format to the Graduate Coordinator so a public notice of your defense can be posted as is required by the Office of Graduate Studies two weeks prior to the defense date.

At the final defense, you will begin by making a short public seminar presentation about your research (30-45 minutes). Remember that since the committee members have already read your dissertation, you need to highlight the importance, significance, and originality of your work. Following your presentation, the public and committee members will ask you questions during the final oral examination concerning your research and results

MSE Graduation Checklist
MSE Exit Survey
Deadlines and Submission Instructions
Graduate School Proxy Signature Rules

Defense Attendance Rules

Your committee is expected to attend your defense in the manner submitted to the Graduate School detailed in your Request for Final Oral form.  Physical attendance by your supervisor is mandatory while your committee may choose to participate either in person or electronically.

It is expected that all members of the committee attend the defense, either in person or via teleconference. The Graduate School does not distinguish between physical attendance or electronic/virtual attendance. If one non-supervisory committee member is unable to attend the defense, there must be an explanation of the member’s absence, together with an assurance that your dissertation will be read, and if approved, signed.  There is a pre-typed section on the 2nd page of the Request for Final Oral Examination form, which may be used, or an attached letter may be used.  These explanations must be signed by the committee member in question, OR your committee supervisor, OR your graduate adviser.  Call the Graduate School at 512-471-4511 with any questions concerning this.

Forms for the Defense

At least one week prior to the student’s scheduled defense, the Graduate School will email a PDF file of the Report of Dissertation Committee form (formally the gold form, pre-populated with the students name and the names and roles of all the committee members) to the student, their supervisor, and the Graduate Coordinator. The student or supervisor will be responsible for bringing the form to the defense, which all committee members will sign after the student successfully completes the defense. All members are required to sign and no proxies will be allowed. Digital or “scanned” signatures are accepted. The supervisor may return the form to the graduate coordinator, or the student may if the supervisor wishes. The form must be signed by the GSC Chair and turned in by the student to the Graduate School in MAI 101 by the graduation deadline. The final copy should include all signatures on a single page.

Report of Dissertation Committee Form Instructions

In addition, the student will need to take a copy of the Learning Outcomes Form to the defense for the supervisor to complete. The supervisor or student may return this form to the Graduate Coordinator.

Other requirements, including the Committee Membership Page, can be found here. These are also due by the deadlines set by the Graduate School.  The Committee Membership Page (formally Dissertation Signature Page) no longer requires the signatures of committee members.