Defending Your Dissertation

Below are 10 simple steps to take from distribution to deposit of your dissertation. If followed, you can ensure a very timely and smooth process. All of the steps can take place at any time during the year.  However, if you are aiming to receive your degree at a specific degree conferral (October, February or May), you must follow a set of deadlines for that conferral.  These deadlines are available online here.

  1. Plan ahead! Get in touch with your Student Affairs Manager. Your Student Affairs Manager should be your first stop when preparing to distribute and defend.
  2. Discuss with your sponsor (advisor) to determine your five-person examining committee. Guidelines for the nomination and appointment of the defense committee are available here.
  3. Only departmental or program administrators may submit your application for defense to GSAS for approval. The Application for Dissertation Defense form is available online here. GSAS must receive it at least two weeks before a defense takes place. Any forms received less than two weeks of a defense will be rejected, and the defense will have to be rescheduled.
  4. Schedule your defense in consultation with your sponsor/advisor. All committee members must agree to a mutual date and time. The typical time for the defense is 2 hours.
  5. Distribute final copy of your dissertation to your five examiners after your committee is approved. Ideally, the distribution should take place at least four weeks before the defense takes place. Note: You must be registered for the semester in which your distribution takes place. This is your final semester of registration, even if your defense and deposit take place in a subsequent semester.
  6. Defend your dissertation.
  7. Complete any required revisions. Candidates who receive a vote of "Approved as Submitted” are to deposit within one month after the defense date. Candidates who receive a vote of “Approved Pending Revisions" are to deposit within six months after the defense date.
  8. Obtain approval to deposit your dissertation. This is done using the Approval “Blue” Card, given to you upon passing your defense. After your revisions are approved, the card must be signed by your sponsor, as well as your Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies. These signatures allow you to deposit your dissertation.
  9. Deposit your dissertation with GSAS. This is the final step to earning the Ph.D degree. Your degree will be awarded only after the deposit has taken place.
  10. Register to Participate in Graduation Ceremonies. The Ph.D. Convocation and University Commencement ceremonies, held in May, recognize degree recipients from October, February, and May. Please note that you are not required to attend the graduation ceremonies to receive your degree.