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Education / Graduate Education / PhD Programs / Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) / Our Students / Handbook / Guidelines for Preparation and Registration of the Ph.D. Thesis Defense

Guidelines for Preparation and Registration of the Ph.D. Thesis Defense


  • Part II Qualifying exam has been passed no sooner than six months prior to the thesis defense.
  • Completion of degree requirements within specific time limits (7 years unless extension granted by Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs).
  • Satisfactory completion of the appropriate number of credit hours for the program (90 credit hours with no grades outstanding excluding current term).
  • Program of Study must be on file with all requirements met.  Note that the Program of Study should be filed before student completes the Thesis Proposal exam and will be used as a guideline for completion of his/her degree work.  It reflects the minimum courses/credits needed to complete the degree.
  • Student must have maintained continuous enrollment since admittance into the Graduate Degree Program.
  • Committee must conform to the guidelines set by the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Affairs Office.11

​11. The Committee consists of four people including the advisor and an outside member.  The outside committee member is defined as a tenure-track faculty member who is from outside of the primary department of the advisor and co-advisor for Neuroscience track students.  For NBA track students the outside committee member has to be outside of the Department of Neuroscience primary faculty.  A person from outside the University may serve as the outside member with prior approval from the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and the Vice Provost and University Dean for Graduate Studies.  Refer to the University’s Official Bulletin for Graduate Studies for more details. 

Written thesis

A manual entitled "The Preparation of Doctoral Theses" is available from the NGP Coordinator or online.  Previous theses are also available in Miner Library for reference.  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, x54279.  The thesis should consist of the following:

  • Title Page (formatted as the example in the Graduate Thesis Manual)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Acknowledgments (where relevant)
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables (if applicable)
  • List of Figures and/or Plates (if applicable)
  • Foreword
  • Text of the Thesis
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

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 School of Medicine and Dentistry 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.  Calendars are available from the NGP Coordinator or you can view it online.

Note - Defenses will not be scheduled after 3:30 P.M.

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 Request for PhD Defense Chairperson 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 (Biomedical Science Program of Study, Program Statement on Completion of PhD Requirements) and will start a record in the PhD Defense Processing System in a SharePoint website. The system allows student’s personal information, all necessary forms, and the required approvals to be collected electronically at various points through the process prior to defense.

At least 4 weeks prior to the defense:

  • Upload your PhD thesis and CV in pdf format to the PhD Defense Processing System, and complete the Alumni Update Form for your exit interview. Please ask your committee whether they prefer paper or/and electronic version of the thesis. The committee members have 2 weeks to review your dissertation. Please note that URMC Copy Center requires 4 business days to print and bind your thesis.

At least 10 full working days prior to the date of defense:

  • At this point provide the Chair of the committee with a copy of your thesis (paper and/or electronic). The coordinator approves your record in PhD Defense Processing System which triggers the emails to the committee members asking for their approval. After committee approval, the NGP Program Director approves your defense. Next the Senior Associate Dean of the School and the University Dean review and approve your thesis online in the PhD Defense Processing System.

Students will receive notification from the University Dean's Office confirming scheduling of the defense and the appointment of the Chair. The Chair of the defense and the committee will receive exam information from the University Dean via email.

NOTE: More detailed information on registering and finalizing the thesis is available at the Neuroscience PhD website

After The Defense

After the Defense, the Committee Chair notifies the Dean of Graduate Studies of the outcome of the defense. If the outcome is a pass, the student will receive an email with further instructions from the University Graduate Studies.

After the successful completion of both the public and closed exams, the student needs to complete revisions (if necessary) and submit them to faculty for approval.  The Dean’s Office receives the final approval from the faculty via email. The student uploads the final document to the UR ProQuest site before the degree period deadline.  It is student’s responsibility to be aware of the deadline for the current degree period and submit all required forms and documentation on time. Deadlines are listed on the academic calendar.

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.

To exit the program student will need to complete a two-part web-based survey. The first part of the survey contains a brief set of questions from the University of Rochester. When the first part is completed, the student will be automatically directed to the second part where questions about activities in the program, future plans and honest opinion on the quality of the PhD program will be asked. The responses are completely confidential, but the student number is requested to verify the survey has been completed.

University Graduate Studies monitors the completion of the post-defense requirements and updates the student’s record accordingly. Once they have all been met, and the final version of the student’s PhD thesis was sent to ProQuest, the site will generate the final completion memo, a copy of which is sent to the graduate coordinator, the student, the dean’s staff, International Services Office and University Housing. The Graduate Program Coordinator will prepare forms (Change of Status and 506 Appointment Forms) to terminate graduate student status.

The PhD stipend is to be terminated at the end of the pay period in which the student submits the final copy of the dissertation. SMD policy requires that students turn in the final copy of the dissertation within 30 days of the final oral examination.

In extremely rare circumstances, the student may be unable to turn in the final dissertation within 30 days of the oral examination. In such cases, continuation of the stipend beyond the end of the pay period in which the 30th day falls is at the discretion of the advisor and the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs.