Defense of the Dissertation

When the dissertation adviser is satisfied that the dissertation is complete, the student will be instructed to submit a copy (together with the abstract) to the other two members of the committee, allowing them at least one month to read the thesis and call for any necessary revisions. Upon consultation with the committee members, the advisor and student will schedule the defense date and submit the “Dissertation Defense Form” to the graduate office. Substantial revisions must be completed before the defense, but minor revisions can be made up until official submission of the thesis. Final responsibility for approving official submission of the dissertation rests with the dissertation adviser.

The adviser, not the student, will contact the external member (outside reader).

The timetables below are highly compressed. Advisers may require that students submit dissertations earlier in order to give reviewers more time to examine dissertations.

Recommended timetables:

  • for students requesting a January degree in order to have the degree in hand for job interviews at CAA:

    • Oct 1: Circulate completed dissertation, after advisor’s approval, to the internal committee at Rutgers.

    • Nov 1: Upon approval of committee, forward to external member.

    • Dec 1-15: Time frame for defense

    • Jan 1: Official submission of the completed dissertation, approved by the thesis advisor, with all revisions finalized, and all signatures in order

  • for students requesting a May degree:

    • Feb 1: Circulate completed dissertation, after advisor’s approval, to the internal committee at Rutgers.

    • Feb 15: Upon approval of committee, forward to external member.

    • March 15-30: Timeframe for defense

    • April 1: Official electronic submission of the completed dissertation, approved by the thesis advisor, with all revisions finalized, and all signatures in order

Note: The thesis advisor and student should be sensitive to the dates of holidays, allowing extra time for getting feedback or doing necessary paperwork.

Each member of the committee must receive a copy of the dissertation.

An oral defense lasts about one hour and is normally conducted by the dissertation committee (except that the outside reader may send written comments instead of attending the defense). The candidate will be expected to defend the completed manuscript while demonstrating a level of mastery of the material expected of a candidate for the highest academic degree. The committee may suggest minor revisions (typographic corrections, stylistic improvements, small details of fact, etc.) to be made before the dissertation is submitted for the Ph.D. The dissertation adviser is responsible for verifying that these revisions have been completed before submission of the final copies of the dissertation. Students must ensure that the dissertation conforms to the Graduate School's requirements, which are set out in a booklet available from the graduate office.

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