Once your dissertation is nearing completion, it’s time to schedule your defense—your final oral examination.
You should begin making arrangements for your defense at the beginning of the semester (especially during the summer) in order to accommodate the schedules of your committee members.
You, the student, and your supervisor, in negotiation with the dissertation committee members, should determine a time and date for the defense. Each member of your committee must receive a copy of your dissertation at least four weeks prior to your dissertation defense date. A defense cannot be held within two weeks of the last class day of the semester, unless the committee has consented to hold the defense within those last 2 weeks.
You must schedule the dissertation defense with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense date by completing the Request for Final Oral Examination form. All members of your committee must sign your request form indicating their intent to be present at your final oral. Your graduate adviser must also sign this form to indicate you have been approved to defend.
It is expected that all members of the committee attend the defense. The Graduate School does not distinguish between physical attendance or electronic/virtual attendance of the defense. 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. Email the Graduate School at GradStudentSvcs@austin.utexas.edu with any questions concerning this.
When you submit the Request for Final Oral Examination form to the Graduate School, you should include one copy each of the dissertation abstract, title page, and the committee membership page for a format check.
The official recommendation of your committee and your program is communicated to the Graduate School on the Report of Dissertation Committee. The Dean of the Graduate School depends on this document to determine your eligibility to receive the doctoral degree so it is essential that it be completed and returned in a timely fashion. A passing report signifies that your committee unanimously agrees that you have completed a dissertation that is an independent investigation in your major field.
In the event that revisions to your dissertation are necessary before your committee members approve your dissertation, the report will be retained by your supervisor until all revisions have been completed. After successful completion of your defense and any required revisions to your dissertation, the dissertation signature page should also be signed by all members of your committee and must be submitted to the Graduate School.
After you’ve made required or requested revisions to your dissertation, if any, check it carefully for grammar, spelling, punctuation, content, and format, then convert it to the required PDF format and upload it.
Doctoral students’ final oral examinations are open to all members of the University community and the public unless attendance is restricted by the Graduate Studies Committee. Scheduled oral examinations are published here.