The Oral Defense
When the Thesis Chair deems the thesis draft is ready for preliminary approval, the student will distribute it to the members of the committee no later than four weeks prior to the last day of graduate classes. In consultation with the student and the Graduate Coordinator, the Thesis Chair will designate the time and place of the oral defense and notify all members of the thesis committee. The oral defense should be scheduled to allow time for all members of the thesis committee to review the thesis and provide feedback prior to the date of the defense.
The Thesis Chair will act as the moderator at the oral defense at which only the committee members, the Graduate Coordinator are present. The defense is not public. The student will open with a brief presentation of his or her findings, after which the members of the thesis committee will offer questions about the substance of the research. Observations or inquiries dealing with composition or formatting should be provided in writing to the Thesis Chair before the defense.
When the Thesis Chair determines that the committee has had an adequate opportunity to question the student, the student may be excused while the committee and the Graduate Coordinator recess to discuss their evaluation of the defense. At the conclusion of this recess, the Thesis Chair and members of the thesis committee will sign the “Oral Defense of Thesis” form with a decision of “pass” of “fail” and enter comments if necessary. (A student may not pass with more than one dissenting vote.) The Graduate Program Coordinator may serve as a moderator in cases when the committee cannot come to consensus. The student will be invited to return to hear the decision and hear any suggestions for final revision.
Submission of the final decision and all appropriate forms should be made to the Graduate Director and within ten weekdays of commencement for final approval. Three appropriately formatted and proofread copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Graduate Director for binding no later than the last day of graduate classes (four if the Thesis Chair requires a personal copy.) Signed copies of the “Final Thesis Approval” form must accompany each copy.