Evaluation Decisions for Doctoral Defense

There are three possible evaluation decisions for the doctoral defense.  All decisions—with the exception of “fail”—must be unanimous.

Pass

“Pass” requires that both the defense and the document (dissertation or treatise) are acceptable. In some cases, the committee may require revisions, which will be checked by the entire committee or by the supervising professor only. This should be agreed upon at the time of the defense and communicated with the student. While the supervisor should wait to sign the Report of Dissertation Committee until all revisions have been reviewed, the other committee members may choose to sign at the defense. The committee should agree upon the length of time allowed for submission of the revised dissertation; this must be communicated clearly to the student. The completed Report of Dissertation Committee should be returned to the Graduate School only after the final revisions to the dissertation have been approved and the GSC designee has signed.

If the dissertation and/or defense are not acceptable to all members of the committee, the decision will change to either "re-defend" or "fail" as discussed below:

Re-defend

“Re-defend” indicates that the committee is not satisfied with the dissertation or with the oral examination, but believes that rewriting may make it acceptable. In this case, the fully signed Report of Dissertation Committee should be returned to the Graduate School by the Supervisor, with each member of the committee indicating their decision. Another scheduled defense will be required and a new report will be generated. 

Committee members should submit their individual Report on Doctoral Dissertation forms indicating their dissatisfaction.

Fail

“Fail” indicates that at least one member of the committee has decided that the dissertation is unsatisfactory and may not be rewritten. The fully signed Report of Dissertation Committee should be returned to the Graduate School by the supervisor, with each member of the committee indicating their decision. Committee members should also submit their individual Report on Doctoral Dissertation forms indicating their dissatisfaction. This decision normally results in the termination of a doctoral student’s program.

Documentation

Document a dissertation defense as follows:

  • The supervisor should bring the Report of Dissertation Committee to the defense. The scheduling information on the Report must be correct; if the time or location changes, the Graduate School must be informed;
  • All committee members sign the Report of Dissertation Committee, even if the member was not present at the defense. Scanned or electronic signatures will be accepted as long as they are legible and dark enough to be imaged. Typed names as a signature are not allowed. Electronic and digitally authorized signatures may be accepted in any font format so long as they include the insignia or logo of the e-signature software used showing authorization;
  • Once all members have signed the report the Graduate Studies Committee chairperson or designee should provide the final signature indicating that all coursework and other departmental requirements have been completed. All signatures should be on a single page;
  • The Report of Dissertation Committee should be submitted to the Graduate School by the student, along with their final paperwork.