Thesis Defense

Students meet at least once a year with their thesis committee (usually in conjunction with their yearly seminar) to report on progress and on any changes in research direction. After the thesis committee approves the completion of the thesis research, the student submits a written dissertation of his or her findings. Students publicly present their thesis research in an open seminar and then defend their findings and conclusions to the committee in a closed exam.

It is the responsibility of the student to see that style, format, margins, paper, binding, etc. are in accordance with University regulations. If you have questions or concerns regarding the thesis preparation, please contact the Office of the University Dean for Graduate Studies, ext. 5-4279.

Please see Preparing Your Thesis: A Manual for Graduate Students as a reference.

Registration Guidelines

The University Dean of Graduate Studies has set deadlines during the academic year by which a thesis must be registered in order to participate in graduation at the next Commencement. Please refer to the Graduate Student Academic Calendar for dates regarding registering the thesis, holding the defense, and submitting corrected copies. These dates must be adhered to; there are no exceptions. Defenses will not be scheduled after 3:30PM and the time table for defenses held in the summer is subject to change.


When planning a PhD defense, please refer to A Guide for Graduate Students Preparing for a Defense and check the Graduate Student Academic Calendar for blackout dates.

As Soon As You Know You Are Going To Defend

Notify Ania Dworzanski, the Graduate Program Coordinator of your intent to defend and the approximate date so that the appropriate paperwork can begin to be processed.

Overview of Due Dates

  • At least 6 months prior to scheduling a defense:
    Meet with the Advisory Committee to request approval to begin writing thesis.
  • At least 4 months to scheduling a defense:
    The Program director, with input from you and your advisor, will identify 3 individuals to serve as a Chair for your defense. Please fill out the PhD Nomination Form and submit it to the program director along with a title page and abstract.
  • At least 6 weeks prior to the date of defense:
    Notify graduate program coordinator of defense plans. Provide the names of your committee members, title, and abstract of your dissertation. The coordinator will prepare the necessary forms for thesis registration ( Appointment form for PhD Final Oral Examination, Biomedical Science Program of Study, Program Statement on Completion of PhD Requirements)
  • At least 4 weeks prior to the date of registration for defense:
    Provide thesis for committee member review and signature of approval using the Appointment form for PhD Final Oral Examination. It will have to be signed off by all committee members at least 2 weeks prior to the thesis registration.
  • At least 10 full working days prior to the date of defense:
    Register for defense.

You will need to make an appointment with the Registrar in advance and present the following:

Nomination and Appointment of the Chair for Defense

A Chair is appointed for each PhD oral defense exam to monitor and promote fairness and rigor in the conduct of the defense. The Chair’s status as a nonmember of the advisor and student’s working group, program, or department enables distance from previously established judgments on the candidate’s work.

The program director (with input from the student and advisor) identifies three individuals to serve as Chair. These individuals must be current full-time, tenure-track faculty members at assistant professor rank or higher. For NGP students the external chair has to come from the outside the primary department of the advisor and co-advisor. Please notice that faculty members of NGP can serve as external chairs for NGP students. For NBA students, the chair has to come from outside the NBA department.

Nominations are submitted to the Senior Associate Dean via a PhD Chair Nomination Form along with a thesis title page and abstract. The nominations are reviewed by the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education. One faculty member is approved as Chair; notice of the selection is provided to the Chair, the student, the advisor, the program director and the graduate program coordinator. The student will include the Chair in planning for specific dates for the defense.

Registering for PhD Defense

“Registering for PhD Defense” means that the student presents thesis, which he/she intends to defend, to the Senior Associate Dean of the School and to the University Dean that governs all doctoral programs. Registration generally occurs on a date that allows 10 full working days to pass between the registration date and the actual defense date. At the registration appointment with the Registrar, the student submits the bound copy of the thesis and the paperwork for defense.

When the thesis and paperwork are received, the Dean reads the thesis and if approved, signs off on your paperwork. You will receive a notification from the Registrar that the thesis is ready for you to deliver to the Dean for Graduate Studies on the River Campus.

Your registration date is also the date when you provide your Chair with a copy of your thesis.

After Thesis Registration

Students have to complete ProQuest form on the UR ProQuest. Completing the ProQuest form is required for a student to fulfill degree requirements and be included on the Ph.D. degree list.

It is strongly recommended that a student begin working on their ProQuest form before their defense to familiarize themselves with the site and learn what they have to do to complete the form. The form can be started, continued and/or amended.

Do not upload your abstract or pdf of your dissertation on the ProQuest site until after your defense when you have completed all final corrections and revisions.

After the Defense

After successful completion of both the public and closed exams and after making any required corrections to the thesis, the student must complete a ProQuest form on-line. The student will include their final abstract (350 words or less) and attach a pdf of their final corrected and approved dissertation to the UR ProQuest site. The student will be asked to complete a two-part web-based survey to exit the program as well as schedule an exit interview with the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education.

The Graduate Program Coordinator will prepare the Change of Status and 506 Appointment Forms to terminate student status. This must take place no later than the registration deadline on the academic calendar or 30 days after the defense, whichever comes first.