PhD Candidates

Graduation Deadlines

All degree requirements are complete only when the doctoral dissertation has been certified as meeting the standards of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and of the Mugar Memorial Library
September 25, 2018 January 25, 2019 May 20, 2019
Dissertation Prospectus As soon as approved but no later than six months before dissertation defense As soon as approved but no later than six months before dissertation defense As soon as approved but no later than six months before dissertation defense
Intent to Graduate May 31, 2018 September 28, 2018 January 25, 2019
Schedule of Final Oral Examination with Abstract Approval submitted to GRS office to be approved by the Associate Dean At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam.
Special Service Appointment paperwork (if needed) submitted to GRS office to be approved by the Associate Dean At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam.
Properly Formatted Draft of Dissertation emailed as a .pdf to At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam. At least three weeks prior to Final Oral Exam.
Last date to hold Final Oral Examination August 10, 2018 December 7, 2018 April 5, 2019
Last date for submission of Dissertation to ETD, Dissertation Processing Fee,  Contact Information form, BU Doctoral Exit Survey, and Survey of Earned Doctorates August 17, 2018 December 14, 2018 April 12, 2019
Last date for submission to ETD and Dissertation Processing Fee for graduation in the next semester without registering for that semester September 5, 2018 January 17, 2019 May 13, 2019

After completing coursework, language requirements, and qualifying examinations, a student proposes a dissertation topic and works with his/her program to identify first, second, and in some programs third, readers for their final oral examination. Please see the Dissertation Committee Composition section of this website for GRS policies on committee appointments.

The dissertation prospectus should be completed before the more extensive phase of dissertation research is undertaken. The department/program is responsible for reviewing and evaluating a draft prospectus. The review is followed by revision and the production of a final draft, which must be approved by the readers, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Chair or Program Director. Once approved, the program should submit the Dissertation Prospectus Approval Page to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Office.

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. 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. At least two of the committee members, including the chair and either the first or second reader, must be from the student’s department or graduate program. 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 professorial 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. 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/video communication.

*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, as long as the faculty member is already acting as a reader or committee member at the point of retirement.

At least three weeks before the dissertation defense, students must submit the Final Oral Exam Schedule with Abstract Approval form with one copy of the abstract (maximum of 350 words) to the GRS office. The proper heading of the dissertation abstract must be printed at the top of the abstract. A template for the proper formatting can be found here. Prior to submission, the abstract must be read and approved by your major advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Chair/Program Director. You will be notified of the approval of the abstract or if revisions are required.

Please see the Dissertation Committee Composition section above for GRS policies on committee composition and appointments. The readers listed on the schedule form must be the same as those who signed the prospectus approval form; if a reader has changed, the Graduate School must be notified.

Mugar Library has created a Dissertation Formatting Guide and samples of Preliminary Pages. The library’s website also includes other useful resources such as instructional videos and templates. Please follow all formatting requirements stated in the library guide while preparing your dissertation draft.

At least three weeks before your final oral examination, you must submit a draft of your dissertation as a .pdf to for format review. If your document is too large to send over email, you can also send the draft via dropbox or google docs and share that file with Be sure your draft includes all preliminary pages, references, and your CV. You will be notified if the format is approved or if 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 re required by your committee.

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. When that review is complete, the dissertation will be submitted to ProQuest/UMI. If GRS or Mugar Library notifies you of necessary corrections or changes, those edits must be made immediately.

In addition to submitting the final dissertation in the ETD, you must complete the Contact Information Form and submit the Library Dissertation Processing Fee. The processing fee is $115 and can be submitted online and paid for via credit card. The link to do so can found on the Guide for Writers of Theses and Dissertations website.

The GRS office does require a hard copy of your dissertation approval page (the third page of your dissertation) with original signatures. You can either bring this to the front desk of the GRS office yourself, or your department/program can send it to GRS along with your dissertation exam reports.

You will receive a link to a BU Doctoral Exit Survey and a Survey of Earned Doctorates (managed by the National Science Foundation) shortly after submitting your dissertation defense scheduling paperwork. Both of these surveys must be completed before your graduation can be processed.

The change from paper to electronic submission of PhD dissertations, and their subsequent availability on-line rather than through microfilm, has made dissertations readily available to everyone and discoverable using simple on-line 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.  Many of our sister institutions have developed formal policies around embargoing dissertations. In the absence of a formal University policy, Mugar Library has developed rules concerning embargoes included in their Guide for Writers of Thesis and Dissertations. These rules are based on what ProQuest, the service used to archive Boston University dissertations electronically, allows.

GRS students may request an embargo of no more than two years. Such requests must be approved by the associate dean.

GRS Policy on Delayed Circulation of Dissertations: In rare circumstances, a student may not want his or her dissertation or thesis 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 mos., one year, or two years). For any time period, you must submit a letter requesting a restriction along with the PDF of the thesis or dissertation through ProQuest’s ETD Administrator. 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 letters are reviewed and if appropriate approved by the associate dean. The restriction will start from the date on the letter. A sample letter is provided in the file of Sample Pages. 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.

The library has made available an FAQ: Embargoes & Electronic Theses & Dissertations document.

Dissertation embargo letter template
Thesis embargo letter template

Information on diploma pickup and mailing dates can be found on the Registrar’s website.

Certificates of Completion are available if you are in need of an official document stated that you have met all degree requirements before the diploma is dispersed.

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.