PhD Graduation Information
The following information and deadlines apply to students who anticipate receiving their PhD degrees at one of the following graduation cycles. Departments/programs may impose additional deadlines.
We only guarantee that we’ll make students official before their graduation date. We cannot rush any graduation procedures for any individual student. Please be patient, and know that you’ll be made official before your graduation date.
Students looking towards their defense should have completed their degree requirements as outlined in the Boston University Bulletin, including the Dissertation Prospectus.
When finishing a degree, students must be registered in the semester in which the final degree requirements are completed; PhD students must also be registered in the preceding semester.
The Dissertation Prospectus Approval Page should be delivered to GRS as soon as it is approved, but no later than 6 months before your dissertation defense.
Please contact the GRS Records office with any questions that are unanswered on this page by emailing email@example.com.
Prior to Defense
|August 25, 2023||January 12, 2024||May 19, 2024|
|Intent to Graduate||May 26, 2023||September 22, 2023||January 25, 2024|
|Special Service Appointments (if applicable)||At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense.||At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense.||At least three weeks prior to the dissertation defense.|
|Last Date to Hold Final Oral Exam||July 7, 2023||December 1, 2023||April 12, 2024|
|August 25, 2023||January 12, 2024||May 19, 2024|
|Last date for submission of final dissertation to ETD
Approval Page with Original Signatures
$115.00 Dissertation Processing Fee
BU Doctoral Exit Survey
Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED)
|July 14, 2023||December 8, 2023||April 19, 2024|
|Last date for submission to ETD for graduation in the next semester without registering for that semester||August 4, 2023||January 8, 2024||May 6, 2024|
After completing all specific degree requirements as outlined in the University Bulletin, including coursework, language requirements, and qualifying examinations, a student must propose a dissertation topic and will work with their program to identify a first, second, and in some programs third, readers for their final oral examination.
The dissertation prospectus, generally a formal paper not exceeding 20 double-spaced (or 10 single-spaced) pages of 12-point font, should be completed before the more extensive phase of dissertation research is undertaken. The readers, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Chair or Program Director must approve the final draft. Once approved, the program should submit the Dissertation Prospectus Approval Page to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Office.
Intent to Graduate
In the semester prior to your intended graduation cycle you must submit the Intent to Graduate Form. This form is forwarded to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and you will receive a confirmation email once it has been processed. You will receive further communication regarding your diploma name and mailing address directly from the Registrar’s office.
Final Oral Exam and Dissertation Draft
Students undergo final oral examinations in which they defend their dissertations as valuable contributions to knowledge in their fields and demonstrate a mastery of their fields of specialization in relation to their dissertations.
As of Spring 2023, GRS is no longer involved in the defense scheduling process. GRS does not need to approve your abstract prior to your defense, and we no longer require any defense scheduling paperwork.
Students should notify their program administrator that they’re defending their dissertation at least three weeks before the defense will be held. The program administrator will assist the student with finding a room to hold the defense, and send a report of examination form to the defense committee to complete after the defense has been held.
The completed report of examination form should then be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org so that GRS can record the successful dissertation defense on the student’s record.
The final oral examination committee must be composed of a total of four or more members, including at least a first and second reader and at least two additional committee members who serve as either designated readers or additional committee members. Each committee also must designate a chair who can serve either as one of the four committee members (although the first reader cannot serve in the role of the committee chair), as an additional committee member, or solely as the chair of the committee.
All committee members are required to attend the final oral examination. Up to one committee member, who is not the chair of the committee or the first reader, 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/visual communication.
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. At least two of the committee members must be from the student’s department or graduate program. if, by special arrangement with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the committee’s first reader is not from the student’s department or program, then at least the chair and the second reader of the committee must be from the student’s department or graduate program. A majority of the committee must be Boston University faculty members who do not require a special appointment. The department chair/program director or the director of graduate studies must approve the membership of the committee.
A special service appointment approved by the Associate 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.
*Emeritus faculty members may serve as readers of GRS dissertations or on examination committees within two years of their retirement date without a special service appointment.
The Mugar Library stipulates that all dissertations submitted at Boston University must have consistent formatting. They have created a Dissertation Formatting Guide that outlines these requirements. Additionally, they have created Samples of Preliminary Pages, which will help to show these requirements in practice.
The library’s website also includes other useful resources such as instructional videos and templates. For further questions or field specific requirements we suggest reviewing recently submitted dissertations by peers as approved examples of the formatting requirements.
At least three weeks before your defense you must submit a draft of your dissertation as a .pdf to email@example.com for a format review. Please follow all formatting requirements stated in the library guide while preparing your dissertation draft, and include all required elements such as the preliminary pages, references, and your CV. You will be notified if the format is approved or if any changes are required. It is advised that all formatting issues be resolved before you defend your dissertation. Following your defense, please allow ample time to complete all requirements and content revisions that are required by your committee.
Final Dissertation Submission
Following your final oral examination, when all corrections and revisions required by your committee have been completed, submit your final dissertation electronically through the Electronic Theses & Dissertation (ETD) website.
The submission in the ETD will be reviewed by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) Records Office, then forwarded to the Mugar Library ETD Administrator for the final format review. If GRS or Mugar Library notifies you of necessary corrections or changes, those edits must be made immediately. When that review is complete, the dissertation will be submitted to ProQuest/UMI.
Embargoing your Dissertation
Electronic submissions of PhD dissertations, and their subsequent availability online has made dissertations readily available to everyone and discoverable using simple online searches. While the granting of a PhD has always involved the open publication of a dissertation, this is now true in practice as well as in theory. There has been discussion in the press of how this change is affecting publication, particularly of scholarly books based on a dissertation, with the result that more PhD candidates are asking for their dissertations to remain unavailable for a period after they graduate. This process is called putting an embargo on the dissertation.
In rare circumstances, a student may not wish for their dissertation to be available from ProQuest or the Digital Common immediately after it is submitted to them. Circulation restrictions (referred to by ProQuest as “embargoes”) are granted only in limited circumstances, but may be allowed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences if the author plans to sell the work to a publisher, apply for a patent, or if the material covers a sensitive subject that cannot be published safely or appropriately at the time.
In such circumstances, you may request a restriction for any period between six months and two years (ProQuest default options are 6 months, one year, or two years.) GRS students may request an embargo of no more than two years. For any time period, you must submit a letter requesting a restriction. The letter must explain the compelling reason for the restriction, the time limit desired, an address where you can be contacted when the time limit expires, and the signed approval of both you and your major advisor. These signatures must be original and in ink. When submitting your dissertation in ETD you must also indicate that you have requested an embargo on your dissertation.
A sample embargo letter can be downloaded here.
These letters are reviewed and if appropriate approved by the Associate Dean. The restriction will start from the date on the letter. Your manuscript will not be available until the restriction is released. No one is permitted to look at your work unless they have your express written permission to do so. Requests to read your manuscript will be forwarded to you. It is your responsibility to respond to them.
For more information, please see the FAQ: Embargoes & Electronic Theses & Dissertations document.
In addition to submitting the final dissertation in the ETD, you must complete the PhD Contact Information Form and submit the Library Dissertation Processing Fee. The processing fee is $115 and can be submitted via credit card at the link provided under the Submit Electronically section here: http://library.bu.edu/theses.
You must also submit a copy of your dissertation approval page (the third page of your dissertation) with signatures. You can obtain signatures using DocuSign. DocuSign will send your reader approval page to each reader individually, and then automatically send the completed page to GRS.
When uploading your dissertation to ETD, please include an unsigned copy of the approval page. GRS will upload the signed approval page after our review of your dissertation.
Additionally, you will receive a link to a BU Doctoral Exit Survey shortly after submitting your dissertation defense scheduling paperwork. At the conclusion of this survey you will be linked to the second survey, the Survey of Earned Doctorates (managed by the National Science Foundation). Both of these surveys must be completed before your graduation can be processed.
Commencement, Diplomas, and Certificates of Completion
All-University Commencement ceremonies are held once each year in May. Graduates will be contacted directly by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) in the spring semester with information on the GRS PhD Hooding Ceremony.
Information on diploma pickup and mailing dates can be found on the Registrar’s website. We encourage you to be sure that your diploma mailing address is up to date on the Student Link to ensure safe receipt of your diploma.
Boston University also offers Certified Electronic Diplomas and Certificates (CeDiploma/CeCertificate) for $11. For more information about CeCredentials and instructions on ordering one, please visit the Registrar’s CeCredential website.
Certificates of Completion are available if you are in need of an official document stating that you have met all degree requirements (including the review of your final dissertation) before the diploma is dispersed. Certificates of Completion can be produced approximately one month prior to the official date of your graduation.