Doctoral Defense

(Tips from your Graduate Administrator!)

  • Name of Student
  • Title of Doctoral Thesis
  • Names of advisor (or co-advisors if appropriate)
  • Date of Defense, Time, Location
  • Pay particular attention to electronic and posted announcements with the details about COMPLETING an APPLICATION FOR GRADUATING by the deadline.
  • Meet with Graduate Secretary to make sure academic requirements have been met.
  • Students are responsible for completing the required application, free if completed by the first deadline.  At a certain point, acceptance of applications is denied for that term.
  • Students are responsible for notifying their respective committee members and arranging for a defense date where ALL committee members can be present.
  • Once a defense date is established, student must contact the Undergraduate Coordinator or the Chair's Secretary, to reserve a room for the defense meeting.
  • Committee members must have the dissertation at least FOUR full weeks prior to the defense.  Committee members are to be provided with a hard copy of the manuscript, you can ask them if they prefer an electronic version.
  • Student provides Graduate Coordinator* with following information for formal notification to the Graduate Dean’s office and University Publications office.
  • The Grad Coordinator completes the REQUIRED doctoral defense cards to be given to the student prior to the defense to be SIGNED AT THE DEFENSE.  One card is to reflect the actual defense and the second card is signed when and if the thesis is approved.  These cards can be held in the student’s file until needed for the defense, and then again if waiting for approval after any revisions have been made.
  • In addition to the Defense Cards, the student presents the ETD Approval Form to the committee for their signatures at the defense.  Approval signatures of the advisor(s) required after any revisions.
  • The dissertation advisor(s) sign off when the document is in final form ready for submission.
  • Defense Cards are returned to the graduate secretary for processing along with the required degree certification memo signed by the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Provide graduate Coordinator and department payroll coordinator with forwarding address and, if known, job title.  Particularly important for proper mailing of any University tax statements and, of course, for our alumni page.
  • Provide graduate coordinator with EXIT SURVEY for placement data required by the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the American Institute of Physics.
  • Return keys, access card, and receive deposit for any departmental keys (if applicable)
  • Return any departmental textbooks you may have used when assigned to be a TA.
  • Visit our departmental Alumni Page to keep us informed of your professional promotions, accomplishments, and location.We hope to keep you informed of the “happenings” in the department.

Details of bulleted information:
Doctoral Candidacy:
The Graduate Dean’s office will not permit a candidate to graduate if their “Application for Admission to Candidacy”, indicating your topic and doctoral committee is not approved at least 8 months prior to your defense. Your committee must consist of members as described in our “Requirements …” document.  They must be members of the Graduate Faculty. If you are using a faculty member from outside of the University, your Research Advisor is required to submit a brief memo indicating the individual’s area of expertise and the individual’s FULL CV to your “Application for Candidacy” before it can be approved by the Department Chairperson and sent to the Dean’s office for approval. If you change ANY members of your dissertation committee you MUST fill out a “Change of Committee” form, needing approval of the DGS, Department Chairperson and Graduate Dean, before you defend. See the graduate secretary for this form.

Academic Status:
Review your Graduate Student Status Report with the Graduate Secretary to ensure that all requirements have been met.

Publicity & Distribution:
Your committee and the Graduate Secretary must be provided with a copy of your dissertation at least 4 weeks prior to your scheduled defense date. Your committee members may ask for an electronic or hard copy of the dissertation. Notification will be made by the Graduate Secretary to the Graduate Dean's office, University Times, and Pitt Chronical.

You must also reserve a room (see Hannah Sweetser or Michele Slogan) for your defense and send your abstract electronically to the graduate secretary.
(Degrees are conferred in the months of APRIL, AUGUST, or DECEMBER for graduate students in Arts and Sciences.)
You must be registered for at least 1 credit or 3999 – 0 credits in each and every term that you think you will be graduating.  You must be registered for FTDS or at least 1 credit in a 12-month period to remain on Active Status in Arts and Sciences.  In cases where you registerd, defended or planned to defend, but had scheduling difficulties, it may be possible to request a "waiver of the registration requirement" (consult with the graduate secretary).

Application for Graduation:
Applications and instructions are available from the Arts and Sciences Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, 5141 Sennott Square just prior to the term in which you wish to graduate.  The deadline is typically at the VERY beginning of the term.   This is a free application, if done before the deadline.

Review information about Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD): (Note: I learned from Philippa Carter (A&S Graduate Studies Office), to whom you will submit your dissertation, that you are free to upload your dissertation at any time you wish in order for her to review it for possible problems.  This can be a draft of the document and not necessarily the final defended version.  She can preview it for you to point out possible issues that might cause her to return it to you for corrections, if things do not comply with their guidelines. This can be done multiple times if needed. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to meet her submission deadline. Simply send her an email that you are uploading the document for her review/comments.

ETD Technical Support Information:

Lmh 2013