Doctoral (PhD) Dissertation Defenses
As you plan to defend you doctoral dissertation please note the steps/dates/deadlines that you will want to follow as you prepare to conclude your program. Largely, all of the forms and deadlines are outlined and linked to in the GRS Graduation Calendar. The GDRS handbook and GRS Bulletin discuss the procedures for Writing and Defending the Dissertation. The GRS has also prepared a guide for completing your PhD requirements that outlines much of the information stated below.
Please note that in order to graduate at the end of any given semester, you must file an Intent to Graduate Form at the beginning of the semester. Please see the current graduation calendar for the diploma application deadlines.
Forming your dissertation committee (quoted from the GRS Bulletin)
“The examining committee is composed of five or more professorial faculty members, including the readers and a committee chair who is not a designated reader. A designated reader is defined as those committee members who sign the final dissertation approval page; all committee members are expected to read the dissertation prior to the final oral examination even if not appointed as a designated reader… A special appointment, approved by the dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, is required for those committee members who are visiting, adjunct, and emeritus faculty; Boston University employees not of professorial rank; and examiners from outside Boston University. A majority of the committee must be Boston University professional faculty members who do not require a special appointment. The membership of the committee must be approved by the department chair/program director or the director of graduate studies. All committee members are required to attend the final oral examination. Up to one committee member, who is not the chair of the committee, can attend via audio/video communication without a proxy during the final oral examination. A proxy must be in attendance for any additional committee members who attend via audio/video communication.”
In addition to the GRS requirements, the GDRS requires that a majority of a committee be composed of GDRS core faculty.
See the GRS Final Oral Exam Committee page for additional rules and instructions.
In addition, you must email a copy of your dissertation to the GRS Records Officer at least 3 weeks prior to your defense in order that they may review the formatting of your dissertation.
Scheduling the Defense
Well in advance of your ideal defense window, consult with all members of your committee to find a date or dates that are acceptable for everyone involved. The defense should be expected to last at least 2 hours.
Most defenses in the GDRS are held either in the Religion or adjoining Judaic Studies building. To reserved a room for your defense, contact the Program Coordinator with the date(s) and time(s) agreed upon by you and your committee. He will then add your defense to the GDRS internal calendar and confirm the scheduled location.
After you have confirmed the date, time and place of your defense, and at least 3 weeks in advance of your defense, forward and a copy of your properly formatted abstract (preferably in word format) and a completed Schedule of Defense with Abstract Approval Form to the Program Coordinator. Please have your adviser review your abstract and sign the approval form before returning it to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will then ensure that the GDRS Director and the Director of Graduate Studies review and approve the abstract before it is sent to the GRS. Once the Dean approves your abstract, GRS Records will contact you directly.
Defense Guest Policies
If you are planning on having guests accompany you to your defense, please keep in mind the following current GDRS policies. Non-student guests are not allowed to sit in on defenses. Student guests can only attend with the advance permission of your Defense Chair and are limited in number to five. Student guests are not allowed to sit in on the evaluation portion of the defense.
After the Defense
The Chair of your dissertation committee will be provided with paperwork by the GRS to record the outcome of your defense, and will be responsible for completing the forms and submitting them to the GDRS Program Coordinator. The student will be be responsible for submitting an original copy of the dissertation signature page to the GDRS Program Coordinator. Signatures must be originals. Neither a proxy nor another faculty member may sign for a reader. A scanned version of the Dissertation Approval Page should be included with the dissertation itself. Therefore we suggest that you have at least 2 original copies of the signature page- one for you to keep and one to submit to the Program Coordinator. Successfully defended dissertations, with any changes required by your readers, must be electronically submitted to the GRS office. In order to qualify for graduation at the end of any given semester, a student must meet specific deadlines. Please see the current graduation calendar for this academic year’s deadlines.
In addition to submitting their dissertation electronically, a student must also submit the following items:
Library Processing Fee of $115 in the form of a money order
Survey of Earned Doctorates The deans request that all PhD students participate in the Survey of Earned Doctorates. After completing the survey, please print the Completion Certificate and bring it to GRS with all of the materials listed above. If you don’t wish to participate in the survey simply make that known at your final appointment with the records administrator.