Academic Progress and Graduation

University Policy

School of Public Health Graduation Policy

To qualify for graduation at the School of Public Health, a degree candidate must have completed the degree requirements within the time frame specified for their degree program, must have no outstanding debt to Boston University, and must submit an Application for Graduation Form. Students in all degree programs must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and above and fulfill the minimum grade requirements as outlined in the SPH Grading Policy. Regardless of whether graduation requirements are completed, students will not officially graduate from the University without submitting a graduation application.

Boston University holds an All-University Commencement every May. University officials announce specific dates for commencement well in advance. The School of Public Health confers its degrees at its own convocation ceremony, also in May that coincides with the All-University Commencement. A reception for the graduates, faculty, and guests is held following the ceremony. September graduates are encouraged to participate in the May ceremony of their choice. January graduates may attend the ceremony held in May following their graduation. Details regarding the ceremony are mailed to all potential attendees in March.

Tentative graduates must enter their diploma name and address to which the diploma is to be mailed (if applicable) on the graduation website of the Student Link prior to the published deadline for that graduation period. Diplomas that are not granted during the May convocation ceremony will be mailed to the address indicated by the graduate one month after the official graduation date.

SPH Master of Science & Doctoral Programs Graduation Procedures

There are opportunities for MS and PhD students to graduate in September, January, and May of each year. Students must register in the fall and spring, keeping in mind a number of procedures and deadlines. This Bulletin page provides students with an overview of these procedures. Some programs produce additional materials to guide students.

Graduation Application

Once students have secured the approval of their program director, they apply for graduation via the graduation application on the SPH website.


  • August 10 (for January award)
  • January 10 (for May award)
  • June 10 (for September award)

Oral Exam/Defense

Students must successfully defend their thesis or dissertation in an oral presentation. Please consult with your program director and program guidebook regarding requirements.


  • November 30 (for January award)
  • April 15 (for May award)
  • August 15 (for September award)

Thesis/Dissertation Submission to Mugar Memorial Library

Dissertations and theses are submitted to the Mugar Library electronically via ProQuest ETD Administrator. Review the final draft of your dissertation or thesis as early as possible with Brendan McDermott, Thesis & Dissertation Coordinator, Mugar Memorial Library, Room 306.

Your dissertation or thesis must be in PDF format with embedded fonts and no password restrictions; otherwise the system will not accept the upload. The library has produced a guide and a series of videos to describe the process.

Reader Signatures

The signed approval page will be uploaded separately from your dissertation as an administrative document. The approval page (page IV) on the uploaded dissertation should remain blank.

Dissertation Fee

The dissertation fee can be sent directly to Brendan McDermott in Mugar Library, Room 306. Checks should be made payable to Boston University.

Embargoing Your Work

Upon submission, dissertations and theses are made publicly available via OpenBU and ProQuest. In limited cases, it may be necessary to delay publication of your work. Reasons for an embargo include:

  • The work contains sensitive material that cannot be published safely
  • The work contains copyrighted material you do not have permission to publish
  • You plan to file a patent
  • You plan to publish with a publisher who will not consider openly available work

If you wish to place an embargo on your work, you must upload a letter when you upload your dissertation or thesis. The letter must include:

  • The reason for the delay
  • The length requested
  • Contact info
  • Signatures from both the student and the advisor

If you have questions regarding submission, please contact Brendan McDermott or Alan Hatton.


  • December 15 (for January award)
  • April 30 (for May award)
  • August 31 (for September award)

BU Doctoral Exit Survey

In an effort to improve the quality of graduate education at BU, the University asks PhD candidates to complete a brief survey. PhD candidates will receive an email with a link to the survey after they begin the dissertation submission process. Graduates are given the option to decline the survey (on page 2), but they must take action on the survey before the dissertation submission process can be completed. Responses are anonymous as is the decision to complete or decline to complete the survey.

Upon completion of the Boston University Doctoral Exit Survey, you will be redirected to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates. The University asks that you take action on both the BU and the NSF surveys.

Questions about the BU Doctoral Exit Survey can be directed to Alan Hatton.


Each year, the School of Public Health holds a convocation ceremony in May, planned by Student Services. Visit the convocation page for details.