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Current Students

Final Examination Procedure

The Final Examination is a presentation and defense of the dissertation. The Exam should last approximately 1.5-2 hours total and consist of a presentation from the candidate (approximately 30-40 minutes) followed by oral examination. At least four members of the Supervisory Committee must be in attendance, including the Committee Chair, GSR, and one member of the Graduate Faculty.

Presentations and general questioning are open to the public followed by a closed examination session limited to the candidate and the committee.

A Final Examination may be scheduled after the following criteria have been met:

  1. You have passed a General Examination in a previous quarter
  2. A reading committee is officially established with the Graduate School
  3. The reading committee has read an entire draft of the dissertation
  4. The supervisory committee agrees that you are ready to schedule a Final Examination.

It is your responsibility to know the complete Graduate School requirements for the Final Exam. It is anticipated that the student will complete this exam around their 5th year in the program. The exact format of the Final Examination will be set by your supervisory committee according to the rules set by the Graduate School. Here are suggested guidelines from the Graduate Committee of the MSE department:

  • The dissertation should be submitted to your reading committee at least two weeks before your exam date.
  • The oral presentation generally lasts at least one hour (30 minutes for the your presentation and 30 minutes for the question and answer period). The exam is a public exam, and you should expect an audience during your oral presentation. After the presentation, there will be time for questions from the general audience. Subsequently, there will be a closed door session with just the supervisory committee.

If the Final Examination is satisfactory, the supervisory committee members who participate at the examination sign the warrant and return it to the GPA by the last day of the quarter (last day of finals week). This warrant remains in your student file within the department. Any members of a supervisory committee who participate at an examination but do not agree with the majority opinion are encouraged to submit a minority report to the Dean of the Graduate School. If an examination is unsatisfactory, a supervisory committee may recommend that the Dean of the Graduate School permit a second examination after a period of additional study.

Registration as a graduate student is required for the quarters that a Final Examination is taken and the dissertation is submitted. The degree is conferred at the end of the quarter in which the student's dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School.

Final steps for graduation

See Ph.D. Graduation Requirements for a complete list of the steps required for graduation.