Dissertation Defense


When a research mentor thinks his/her/their student is nearing a point of completion, the Advisory Committee should meet with the student and advisor to assess the student’s readiness to write a dissertation. This meeting should take place approximately 6 months before the anticipated dissertation defense. Students should update their list of publications and manuscripts in press on the Progress Report form before this meeting. At this meeting, the Advisory Committee will certify that the student is ready to write his/her/their dissertation and to schedule a defense date. This approval should be granted and a date set only if the student has, at a minimum, achieved the following:

  • met all of the required program milestones

  • completed all coursework and met the academic standards of the Graduate School

  • demonstrated mastery of the literature, conceptual skills, analytical skills, writing and presentation skills, experimental skills, record keeping skills and work ethic meets doctoral-level standards

  • contributing intellectually as a lead author, or equivalent, to at least one manuscript, published, in review, or ready for submission in a peer-reviewed journal. An exception to this requirement will require the unanimous approval by the Advisory Committee

When these criteria have been met, the student will be given a green light to enter the dissertation writing phase.

Copies of earlier successfully completed Program Dissertations are available for review in the Levy Library. Guidelines for the dissertation deposit can be found on Graduate School Forms website or at the Levy Library website.


A student should not present tables or figures that are not entirely his/her/their own work unless this is unavoidable because the data are necessary to develop the story; in that case the precise contribution of the student must be made clear and indicated on the contributions page. Detailed methods should not be presented for work not actually conducted by the student, including work done by the Core Facilities or other colleagues; such presentations convey the impression that the student actually carried out the procedures.

Last updated