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
  • Zoom Meeting ID and Password
  • Photo you wish us to use for your publicity flyer
  • Pay particular attention to electronic and posted announcements with the details about the deadline (free and later with a fee) for COMPLETING an APPLICATION to graduate in April, August, or December.
  • Meet with Graduate Administrator the prior to, or at the beginning of the term you plan to graduate, 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. Information about remote  participation can be found on our Post-Comp Requirements site.
  • Once a defense date is established, the candidate must contact the Undergraduate Administrator or the Chair's Assistant, who have the access 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, however, most prefer an electronic version. You should ask them for their preference.
  • The candidate provides Graduate Administrator*  with following information for formal notification to the Dietrich School and to be listed on the University Events Calendar.
  • DocuSign: The Graduate Administrator completes the REQUIRED doctoral defense cards to be given to the PhD committee a week or so prior to the defense. These are SIGNED AT THE DEFENSE and the pdfs returned to her.  However, committee member can delay signing, if they wish to first see any requested revisions.  One card is to reflect the actual defense date, and the second card is signed when and if the thesis is approved.  These cards can be held by the Research Advisor until any needed revisions have been made.
  • In addition to the Defense Report on Exam Cards, the student completes the ETD Approval Form and the DSAS Chairs Compliance with Remote Attendance Form  and sends these to the Graduate Administrator to be sent prior to the defense via DocuSign, for the committee's use following the defense. 
  • The dissertation advisor(s) sign off when the document is in final form ready for submission.
  • Defense Cards are returned to the Graduate Administrator for processing.  A degree certification memo is then prepared, signed by the Director of Graduate Studies and delivered to the graduate dean's office.
  • Provide Graduate Administrator 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 Administrator 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 Administrator to ensure that all requirements have been met.

Publicity & Distribution:
Your committee, the Department Chair,* DGS, and the Graduate Administrator 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. Required notification will be made by the Graduate Administrator to the Graduate Dean's office and the UG Administrator will  add to the University Events Calendar.

Reminded Faculty and Graduate Students 5/2020 - a message from the Department Chair:
To all graduate students nearing graduation, our department rules require submission of a thesis draft to all committee members 4 weeks prior to their defense date. If students anticipate not being able to meet this deadline, they must obtain permission IN ADVANCE from all committee members to distribute it at a later time. If any of the committee members disagree, the student must either submit it within the deadline, or postpone their defense date. Members may also agree to have most of the thesis by the deadline and one section or chapter at a later time. The rule is in place to allow thesis committee members sufficient time to review the thesis and provide feedback on any potential issues prior to the defense.

This requires particular planning in cases where the defense date is difficult to move due to faculty travel schedules, family travel plans, or other issues.  Thank you for your help in making the thesis review process manageable for all committee members.

In the meantime, refer to the March 9, 2020 memo from Dean Hooch about remote participation for all committee members and guests.
 
Registration:
(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 when using university resources or faculty time and to remain on Active Status in Arts and Sciences.  In cases where you registered, 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 administrator).

Application for Graduation:
Applications and instructions are announced and made available electronically from the Dietrich School of 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.

ETD:
Review information about Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD): http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/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:
http://www.library.pitt.edu/php-files/etd-support.php?
http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/dissertation.html

lmh 12/2018; 9/23/2019; 5/27/2020