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Students should plan to complete the dissertation within six terms (two years) of passing the oral examination.
When a dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the sponsor, it is recommended for the defense. Through the Doctoral Office, the student files an Application for the Final Examination for the PhD (Dissertation Defense) with the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 107 Low Library.
The dissertation is defended before a University-wide committee of five, including the sponsor (the major adviser), the chairperson (a tenured member of the Faculty of Business), a third inside reader (who must be a member of the Faculty of Business), and two outside examiners (each must hold a PhD). The student’s sponsor works with the student to help select the committee, which is then subject to the approval of the assistant dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Doctoral Office assists in selecting the committee members, getting committee approval and scheduling the defense.
When the defense committee has met and examined the candidate on the dissertation, it evaluates and judges the dissertation defense to fall within one of three categories: pass, incomplete, or fail. The following are definitions of each category:
The dissertation is deemed acceptable subject to minor revisions. Upon completion of the required revisions, the candidate is recommended for the degree. All revisions must be completed and the dissertation deposited no later than six months from the date of the dissertation defense.
The dissertation is deemed acceptable subject to major revisions. Upon completion of the required revisions, the candidate is recommended for the degree. The defense committee shall delegate the responsibility for the outcome of the revisions to a subcommittee made up of one to three members of the original committee. All revisions must be completed and the dissertation deposited no sooner than three months and no later than one year from the date of the dissertation defense.
The dissertation is deemed unacceptable, and the candidate is not recommended for the degree. Subject to the rules of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, however, the candidate, within 10 years of the award of the MPhil degree, may submit to the dean a body of published, independent, and original scholarly material. If that material is deemed acceptable, the candidate is permitted to sit for another examination.
In the case of a pass or incomplete dissertation, when the required revisions have been made and duly certified by the sponsor or the revisions subcommittee, the candidate is ready to make the final deposit of the dissertation with the dissertation secretary in 107 Low Library. The pamphlet The PhD Dissertation: Research Proposal, Sponsorship, and Defense, available from the Doctoral Office and from the dissertation secretary, outlines requirements, and gives full instructions for the deposit under each option.
With the deposit of the dissertation, all requirements for the PhD degree are satisfied, assuming that all bursar’s accounts are clear. The degree is awarded on the University degree-conferral date immediately following the deposit of the dissertation. Information about the annual commencement exercises (held each May) is mailed by the secretary of the University in March.