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 a diploma application 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 the first or second reader. At least two of the committee members, including the chair, must be from the student’s department or graduate program. By special appointment, approved by the dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, examiners may be from outside Boston University; a majority of the committee must be Boston University faculty members. The membership of the committee must be approved by the department chair/program director or the director of graduate studies.”

See the GRS Final Oral Exam Committee page for additional rules and instructions.

Formatting your Dissertation

Please review the entirety of GRS formatting guidelines document and make appropriate changes to your dissertation.

In addition, you may want to meet with the GRS Records Officer to review the formatting of your dissertation before it is officially submitted.

Abstract Approval

At least 3 weeks in advance of your defense, forward and a copy of your properly formatted abstract (preferably in pdf format) and a completed 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.

Scheduling the Defense

Once your abstract is approved, you can submit the paperwork to schedule your defense.  Please note that the GDRS is not notified when the Dean approves your abstract.  It is your responsibility to pass this information along to the Program Coordinator.

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.  She will then add your defense to the GDRS internal calendar and confirm the scheduled location.

To officially announce your defense, you must submit 2 copies of the approved abstract to the GRS along with the Schedule of the Final Oral ExamPlease note that this form requires the signatures of all the of the members of your defense committee. The Program Coordinator will ensure the form is signed by the GDRS Director and submitted to the GRS.

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.  Successfully defended dissertations, with any suggested by your readers, must be electronically submitted to the GRS office.  A scanned version of the Dissertation Approval Page should be included with the dissertation itself.  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 your dissertation, you are also responsible for submitting the following paperwork to the GRS before the semester deadline:

Dissertation Title Page

Dissertation Approval Page signed by your readers. Signatures on the Approval Page must be originals. Neither a proxy nor another faculty member may sign for a reader.

Dissertation Abstract as it appears in the final version of the electronically submitted dissertation.

Contact Information Form

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.