Checklist for M.A./Ph.D. Graduation
This checklist is intended to help you plan the final YEAR before graduation.
- To graduate at the end of a particular semester, you must apply to graduate by the end of the second week of that semester, and you must have a “defendable draft” of your thesis/dissertation no later than 1.5-2 months into the semester. A “defendable draft” is a complete draft that has been read and approved by your committee chair for distribution to your full committee. Some chairs want to read each individual chapter as you finish it, others prefer to get a whole draft. Either way, do not assume that your first draft will be “defendable.” It is also possible that one of the other committee members will require revisions—another draft—before you defend. Good communication between you and your committee is key to surviving your final semester. It is a good idea to set up deadlines with your Chair for when you will turn in a complete draft of your thesis/dissertation and even when you will turn in drafts of individual chapters. Also, make sure to meet with or e-mail all of your committee members to update them on the progress of your research and writing and let them know when they should expect see a completed draft of your thesis/dissertation.
The schedule you have to follow is determined by the following constraints (these are in reverse order, so count backward from Commencement):
- Commencement (end of the semester)
- Graduate School final filing deadline, 4-5 weeks before Commencement
- The Department Chair to review your thesis/dissertation (5 days before filing)
- Post-defense revisions and formatting approval from the Department Graduate Secretary and Graduate School (2-4 weeks before giving thesis/diss to Department Chair)
- Your committee to read your thesis/dissertation draft prior to your defense (4 weeks before defense)
- Your Chair to review and approve your thesis/dissertation draft (time to be negotiated with your Chair early in the semester)
Therefore to graduate at the end of the semester you need to submit a draft of your thesis/dissertation to your Chair very early in or before the start of the semester in which you hope to graduate.
- It will save you a lot of time and unnecessary hassle if you follow the Department and Graduate School thesis/dissertation formatting guidelines from the outset. You must conform to both. We recommend you do not wait until you have written your thesis/dissertation to convert it to the required format; review and use these guidelines now. Questions about the Graduate School guidelines can be directed to Dr. Ratna Sinha (firstname.lastname@example.org), who reviews all theses/dissertations to make sure they conform to Graduate School requirements prior to final submission.
SEMESTER BEFORE YOU PLAN TO GRADUATE
- Discuss with your committee chair and other committee members your graduation plans, to make sure you understand their schedules and when you must have a defendable draft in their hands.
- Establish Thesis/Dissertation Draft Deadlines with Your Committee Chair
- Update Committee Member on Your Research/Writing Progress
START OF THE SEMESTER IN WHICH YOU EXPECT TO GRADUATE
- Apply to graduate with the Graduate School. The deadline is usually the second Friday of the semester. For the exact date and other important deadlines check the Graduate School website. If you do not make the thesis/dissertation final filing deadlines, your registration will carry over one semester.
- Establish Thesis/Dissertation draft deadlines with your committee chair, and update committee members on your progress.
- Have the Director of Graduate Studies or your committee chair check to ensure that all forms needed to graduate are completed, have appropriate signatures, and are on file in the Department office.
- Tool Requirement form (signed by all committee members)
- Graduate School Approval of Committee form
- Thesis/Dissertation Proposal Approval form (signed by all committee members)
- Candidacy Exam form (Ph.D. only, signed by all committee members)
- If you plan to use published figures in your thesis/dissertation you will need to get permission from the publishers. This process can take weeks, sometimes even months, so plan accordingly. Actual permission letters must be included as appendices in your thesis/dissertation as per Graduate School guidelines.
- Request Permission to Use Figures from Publisher
EARLY IN THE SEMESTER
- Present a complete draft of your thesis/dissertation to your committee chair. Some chairs prefer to read individual chapter drafts, some prefer to see the whole draft; make sure you know what your chair expects. Usually, your committee chair will read one or more complete drafts before your thesis/dissertation is ready to be presented to the rest of your committee. It may take several revisions before your thesis/dissertation reaches this point, so your chair needs to see your first draft very early in the semester, or even in the previous semester.
- Submit First Draft of Thesis/Dissertation to Committee Chair
- Once your Chair has given you the go-head, submit a draft of your thesis/dissertation to your committee. This must be done at least FOUR WEEKS prior to your scheduled defense date. Faculty members are reluctant to hold defenses during the first or last week of classes, and travel to meetings or during the summer may constrain when a defense can be held.
- Submit Thesis/Dissertation Draft to entire Committee
- Set Thesis/Dissertation Defense Date
- Notify Graduate Secretary, and make sure a room is secured for date/time
- The four weeks before your defense is a good time to work on non-substantive details of your thesis/dissertation. Make sure your citations and references follow the correct format. Make sure your captions for figures and tables follow the correct format. Prepare your Table of Contents, List of Figures, List of Tables, and other front matter pages. During this time your committee members may also alert you to errors they noticed, which you can fix now.
- All committee members, with at most one exception, must be present (or must participate by telephone) at the defense. If a committee member has to participate electronically (e.g., by speakerphone), make sure the room has a phone connection. If you need a computer/projector, make sure the room has the necessary equipment, or make sure you reserve the department’s equipment. Defenses for MA theses last 2 hours, with 3 hours for PhD dissertations. It is up to the student and the chair whether other graduate students are present for all or part of an MA defense, but it is open to faculty. PhD defenses are open to the public.
- Defend your thesis/dissertation
POST DEFENSE (mid- to late semester)
- Most theses/dissertations require revision after the defense. At the end of your defense your committee will inform you about what revisions they require, and which members need to see which revisions.
- Make post-defense revisions
- There are a number of administrative hurdles you must now clear, including passing both Departmental and Graduate School format checks, getting final approval from the Department Chair, submitting the final document along with associated fees to the Graduate School, and depositing a final copy in the Department. You will also want to give your Chair and committee members a copy of you thesis/dissertation once it has been submitted.
- Submit Printed Copy to Graduate Secretary for Formatting Approval. Note: This may take several days, depending on the length of your document and the other workload of the Grad Secretary.
- The Graduate School requires your thesis/dissertation to be filed electronically, as a PDF. Instructions on how to create the PDF can be found on the Graduate School website. The deadline for filing your thesis/dissertation with the Graduate School is 4-5 weeks before the end of the semester; it is always posted on door of the Graduate Studies Office and on the Graduate School website. The Graduate School allows NO extensions−miss by one day and you graduate the following semester. Also, the Graduate School requires your final PDF file to be uploaded by the MORNING of the due date.
- Upload PDF File to the Graduate School for Formatting Approval. Note: Remember to include the Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Approval page in your final PDF. You will walk the official forms, signed by your committee, to the Graduate School in Woody Hall, B114 (see next step).
- You must present a printed copy of your final, fully revised, department and graduate school format-checked thesis/dissertation to the Department Chair for final approval. This must be done at least 3 days before the Graduate School final filing deadline, to allow the Chair time to read your document (and for you to make any necessary final changes).
- Deposit Thesis/Dissertation with Department Chair for Final Approval
- This is the last part of the process. After your post-defense revisions have been made and approved by the committee chair, you have cleared the department format check, the Department Chair has read and approved your thesis/dissertation, and you have converted your document to PDF and uploaded it:
- Have Committee Chair and Department Chair Release Official Paperwork (Oral Defense form, Thesis/Dissertation Approval form) from the Department Office
- Deposit Official Approval Pages at the Graduate School
- Submit Thesis/Dissertation Fees to the Graduate School, payable by cash or check
- Deposit One Printed Copy on acid-free paper of your Thesis/Dissertation in the Department Office
- You must have paid all Bursar’s bills (e.g., parking tickets, overdue library book fees, tuition) at least two weeks before the date of graduation.
It is YOUR (the student) responsibility to assure that your committee and the Department Chair are available for critical events (i.e., your defense, reviewing your final draft, signing off on final paperwork, etc.).
It is also YOUR (the student) responsibility to keep track of important deadlines and the semester timetable.
It is your COMMITTEE MEMBERS' responsibility to read your thesis/dissertation draft within the four week window from submission to defense and, to the best of their ability, respond to revisions in a timely manner.