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Defense Rules by OSE program and Graduate Studies:

Defending Your Thesis

Each candidate for a Plan I master’s degree must submit a thesis that demonstrates evidence of the ability to do sound research; therefore, the student’s thesis committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies must approve the thesis. The student is responsible for providing each member of the committee with a complete draft of the thesis in ample time for review prior to the defense.

Announcement of Final Exam for Thesis

At least two weeks before the final examination is held, and no later than November 1 for Fall, April 1 for Spring or July 1 for summer, the major graduate unit must notify Graduate Studies of its scheduled date by submitting the appropriate announcement form.

Member Attendance at Thesis Defense

All members of a student’s thesis committee must be present at the thesis defense. Although physical presence is strongly encouraged for all members, synchronous participation by telephone/video conference is allowed when necessary.

Proxy Signature

An original signature of each committee member is required for each examination and thesis or dissertation defense form. In the rare cases where an original signature cannot be provided, the committee member may request a proxy signature by submitting the Proxy Request Form at least two weeks prior to the student’s examination.

Conditional Pass

If the Committee feels that, although the student has demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the field, it is not quite sufficient to justify a grade of “pass”, the committee may assign the grade of “Conditional Pass” and require that the student meet additional conditions before a grade of “Pass” is awarded. The student must meet the conditions noted on the Conditional Pass by the end of the subsequent term. However, students who plan to graduate in a specific term must resolve a Conditional Pass by the posted deadline for submission of examination results. The committee notes the conditions that need to be met by the student on the examination form. Once the committee indicates the student has met the conditional pass criteria, they submit a memo to Graduate Studies, and the student has a maximum of 90 days to submit his/her thesis; however, graduating students must meet the term deadline for submission of the thesis.

90-Day Time Limit

Plan I master’s students must submit their theses to the Dean of Graduate Studies within ninety (90) days of passing their final examinations for the thesis. If the thesis is not submitted within that time, the student must schedule and complete a second final examination for the thesis. In all cases, the results of the thesis defense must be submitted to Graduate Studies no later than two weeks after the announced date of the thesis defense.

Defending Your Dissertation

The doctoral final oral examination, or dissertation defense, is the last formal step before the dissertation manuscript is submitted and the doctoral degree awarded. The focus of the final examination is the dissertation and its relationship to the candidate’s field of study. Its purposes are:​
  1. To provide an opportunity for candidates to communicate the results of their research to a wider group of scholars;​
  2. To afford an opportunity for the members of the examination committee, as well as others (faculty, students, staff, etc.), to ask relevant questions;​
  3. To ensure that the research reflects the independence of thought and accomplishment of the candidate rather than excessive dependence on the guidance of a faculty member; and finally,​
  4. To ensure that the candidate is thoroughly familiar not only with the particular focus of the dissertation but also its setting and relevance to the discipline of which it is a part.​

Announcement of Final Exam for Dissertation

At least two weeks before the final examination is held a draft of the manuscript should be delivered to the committee members, so they have ample time to review the document. Also, at least two weeks before the defense, and no later than November 1 for Fall graduation, April 1 for Spring, or July 1 for Summer, the major graduate unit must notify Graduate Studies of its scheduled date by submitting the Announcement of Examination form. In order to defend during the intersession, the student must be registered for the following semester. The student is responsible for providing each member of the dissertation committee with a complete copy of the dissertation in ample time for review prior to the examination.​

Member Attendance at Dissertation Defense

All members of a student’s dissertation committee must be present at the defense. Although physical presence is strongly encouraged for all members, synchronous participation by telephone/video conference is allowed when necessary.

Proxy Signature

An original signature of each committee member is required for each examination and thesis or dissertation defense form. In the rare cases where an original signature cannot be provided, the committee member may request a proxy signature by submitting the Proxy Request Form at least two weeks prior to the student’s examination.
The presentation and examination phases of the exam are open to the University community and are published in various sources; the deliberation phase is only open to the committee. At the conclusion of the examination, the dissertation committee members confer and make one of the following recommendations, which must be agreed upon by at least three of them:​
  1. That the dissertation be approved without change;​
  2. That the dissertation be approved subject only to minor editorial corrections: or​
  3. That the dissertation be rewritten or revised before approval.​
 
If the committee chooses either the first or second recommendation, they may decide that no further meetings are needed. In the second instance, the director of the dissertation is responsible for seeing that all necessary corrections are made before the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Studies. If the third recommendation is made, the full committee may elect to meet again to determine that their concerns have been addressed.​