Final Oral Examination
Role of Oral Defense Chairperson
The candidate must be enrolled in at least 2 credit hours of dissertation in the semester in which the final oral examination is held and the semester in which the final copies of the dissertation are submitted to, and officially accepted by the USF Graduate School
Scheduling the Final Oral Examination
It is highly recommended that a pre-defense meeting be held, at which time the Doctoral Committee can discuss any major changes necessary before the dissertation is ready for the formal oral defense. The date, time, and place of the final oral defense should be decided at the pre-defense meeting. The final oral examination must be held at least three weeks prior to the end of term in which the candidate wishes to graduate. The Request for Ph.D./Ed.D. Degree Final Oral Examination form available online at the USF Graduate School web site should be signed by each member of the Doctoral Committee at the pre-defense meeting, if the committee agrees that the document is ready for defense.
Committee members should not be asked to sign the Request for Oral Defense form until they have been given time to read the dissertation and are satisfied that it is ready for defense. It is recommended that the candidate provide each committee member a copy of the dissertation at least two (2) weeks prior to the pre-defense, or five (5) weeks prior to the formal defense (if a pre-defense is not held). Candidates are required to provide all committee members time to read the dissertation (a minimum of 2 weeks) before they request their sign-off on the Request for the Dissertation Defense form. Faculty are strongly urged not to sign the Request for the Dissertation Defense form until they have read the dissertation and are satisfied that it is ready for defense.
The candidate and the Major Professor will select, with approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, an Oral Defense Chairperson, who must be credentialed as a Full Member of the graduate faculty of the College of Education and must be outside the student's academic department. If the faculty member is willing to serve, his/her name is written on the Request for the Dissertation Defense form.
At least three (3) weeks before the schedule defense date, the following forms/documents must be submitted to the Office of the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (EDU 105E).
- the completed Request for the Dissertation Defense
- two copies of the dissertation
- completed Title Page (choose the appropriate template)
- an abstract and abstract title page
- Certificate of Approval form (Graduate School web site)
- a copy of the Certificate of Completion of Program in Human Subjects Protection
- evidence of completion of required annual re-certification
- Successful Defense of the Ph.D./Ed.D Dissertation
When delivered, the dissertation must be logged in with the Administrative Assistant to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (EDU 105E). The candidate will be asked to complete a brief checklist. Upon approval of the oral defense request by the Associate Dean, a written notice to the faculty announcing the time and place of the final oral defense will be posted.
Specific deadlines for format editing by the USF Graduate School's Manuscript Editor, the final oral defense, and the final submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School are distributed by the Dean's Office to all departments in a written notice early in each semester. The USF Graduate School deadlines are also available at its web site. If activities can be completed earlier than the published deadlines in a given semester, students are strongly encouraged to do so to avoid a last minute rush.
In general, the deadlines are as follows:
Eight weeks before the last day of classes - (Suggested)
- Distribute final draft of dissertation to Doctoral Committee members.
- Schedule a pre-defense meeting and schedule the final oral defense.
- Select the Outside Chairperson in consultation with Major Professor and approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Seven to eight weeks before the last day of classes - (Required)
- Submit one copy of the dissertation draft to the USF Graduate School Manuscript Editor for format check. Consult the Grad School web site for instructions and the deadline for submitting the draft of the dissertation to the Manuscript Editor for format check for compliance to university requirements.
Six weeks before the last day of classes - (Required)
- Last day to deliver the Request for the Dissertation Defense form and two copies of the dissertation, including complete Title Page, a dissertation abstract, and Abstract Title Page, Certificate of Approval form, and the Successful Defense of the Ph.D./Ed.D. Dissertation form to the Administrative Assistant in the office of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. One copy of the dissertation will be kept in the Dean's Office to review by faculty or others who are interested; the second copy will be forwarded by the Associate Dean's Office to the Oral Defense Chairperson.
Four weeks before the last day of classes - (Required)
- Last day to hold the final oral defense.
Two weeks before the last day of classes - (Required)
- Submit final copies of dissertation to the USF Graduate School by the published deadline.
- Distribute approved copies of the dissertation to committee members.
Role of Oral Defense Chairperson
The role of the Oral Defense Chairperson at the final defense consists of conducting the final defense meeting, recording the final vote, and when applicable, noting any changes in the dissertation required by the Doctoral Committee. The University Graduate Council has provided the following guidelines for the Chairperson:
The function of the Chairperson is to preside over all functions, including introduction of the candidate and questioning procedures. The meeting for the dissertation defense must include all members of the committee. In addition, other interested faculty members and students are encouraged to attend.
The examination period should begin with a summary presentation by the candidate of his/her dissertation research. Following this presentation, the Chairperson should open the floor to questions from the members of the dissertation committee in rotation, including himself/herself. Normally, each examiner should attempt to limit questioning time on this initial round. If desired, a short break may be taken prior to the next round. Finally, questions from other attending faculty should be requested. The scope of the questioning can be narrow (i.e., limited solely to the dissertation) or broad (i.e., including tangential issues), but it should be specified in advance to the student.
Following the completion of these proceedings, the student will be asked to leave the room, and the Chairperson will preside over the deliberation and voting of the committee. The voting is to be limited to pass and fail votes, and the Chairperson shall not participate in the voting. The Chairperson has the responsibility of tallying the votes and of informing the candidate of the final decision, and what changes, if any, are to be made to the document.
On successful completion of the final oral examination, the Chairperson will ask the doctoral committee members to sign the Successful Defense of the Ph.D./Ed.D. Dissertation form and will also sign the form (the Successful Defense of the Ph.D./Ed.D. Dissertation form will be sent to the Chairperson by the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs prior to the oral defense date.). The Chairperson submits the original of the Successful Defense form to the Office of the COEDU Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (EDU 105). The Associate Dean sends a copy to the COEDU Coordinator of Graduate Studies (EDU 106).
Once all required changes are made to the dissertation, and the Certificate of Approval form (must be on required paper) is signed by all members of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee, the doctoral candidate will submit two Certificate of Approval forms with original signatures of committee members to the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for his/her signature. The doctoral candidate will pick up the signed Certificate of Approval forms from the Associate Dean's Office and submit them with the final dissertation document to the USF Graduate School by the published deadline.
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