Instructions to Supervisors Attending the Dissertation Defense

  • The supervisor should take the REPORT OF DISSERTATION DEFENSE (gold sheet) provided by the Graduate School to the dissertation defense.
  • The scheduling information on the form must be correct.  If the time or location of the defense changes, the Graduate School must be informed.
  • If the defense is satisfactory, all committee members in attendance should sign the gold sheet.  Committee members who do not attend the defense are not required to sign the gold sheet.  The supervisor should make a note on the back of the gold sheet indicating the approval of any committee members participating via telecommunication.
  • After all attending members have signed the gold sheet, the Graduate Studies Committee Chair should provide the final signature, which indicates that all coursework and additional departmental requirements have been completed.
  • The gold sheet should be returned to the Doctoral Degree Evaluator in the Graduate School, Main 101, mail code G0400, within ten days of the defense.

Instructions to Supervisors and Committee Members Attending the Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the date of the defense. The student and supervisor, in negotiation with the dissertation committee members, must select one of two options for the defense (traditional or virtual attendance). The student must indicate which option is being used at the time the defense is scheduled.

Defense Options

Traditional Option

A minimum of four committee members, including the supervisor, must be present in the room in which the defense is held. Participation via phone or video-conference does not count toward the minimum of four, and stand-ins for committee members are not allowed. When only three committee members are available for in-room attendance, an exception requires that a fourth GSC member of status not on the committee (Graduate Adviser, GSC Chair, Department Chair, Senior Faculty) will attend and observe without vote. In such circumstances, a fourth committee member must also be available to participate via phone or video-conference.

Electronic (Virtual) Option

Participate by ALL members of the dissertation committee is required. In-room attendance is required for the student and supervisor(s). All other committee members who are not physically present for the defense must participate virtually. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the electronic system, which allows virtual participation, is adequate for the intended purpose.

Evaluation Decisions

Listed below are the four possible evaluation decisions for the doctoral defense.  All decisions, with the exception of  FAIL, must be unanimous.

*PASS.  This decision means that both the defense and the document (dissertation or treatise) are acceptable.  In some cases, the committee may require minor revisions, which will be checked by the supervising professor. While the supervisor should wait to sign the gold sheet until any revisions have been reviewed, the other committee members may choose to sign at the defense.

*RECONSIDERATION. This decision indicates that extensive revision of the dissertation is necessary, but that the committee is willing to re-evaluate the revised document without requiring another oral examination.  The student should complete these revisions in no more than three months. The committee members may choose to sign the gold sheet at the defense, if they are willing to waive the right to review changes.  Members who want to review changes should not sign the Committee Certification of Approved Revisions (signature page).  The supervisor should wait to sign until all requested revisions have been completed satisfactorily.  After reviewing the required changes, a committee member who is still not satisfied with the revisions may request another oral examination.  The supervisor of the committee should notify the degree evaluator in the Graduate School when the decision of the committee is RECONSIDERATION.

*NOT PASS. This decision indicates that committee is not satisfied with the dissertation, but believes that rewriting may make it acceptable. In this case, the gold sheet should be returned unsigned with a letter from the supervisor reporting NOT PASS. Committee members should submit their individual REPORT ON DOCTORAL DISSERATION forms indicating their dissatisfaction.  Another scheduled defense will be required, and new forms will be generated for signatures.

*FAIL.  This decision indicates that at least one member of the committee has decided that the dissertation is unsatisfactory and may not be rewritten.  This decision amounts to the termination of a doctoral student's program.


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