Doctor of Philosophy Program Guide: Final Examination

The Final Examination (dissertation defense) can only be scheduled by the English Graduate Advising Office after the chair has approved the dissertation. Students should allow five weeks between the time their dissertation is distributed to their full Reading Committee (with the chair's approval) and the defense.

Scheduling the Final Examination

After the chair approves the dissertation, the student contacts the Graduate Program Manager to request the scheduling of the Final Examination (dissertation defense).

The Graduate Program Manager takes the following steps:

  • Discusses the entire dissertation defense process with the student;
  • Distributes copies of the Dissertation to the Reading Committee;
  • Queries the Dissertation Committee (including GSR) about their availability for the defense;
  • Sets the time and announces the time and place for the defense;
  • Conveys approval of the on-line request for the Final Examination on the Graduate School’s MyGradProgram (only after receiving agreement directly to the scheduled time)

The student is responsible for the following:

  • Communicating in an ongoing way with their chair;
  • Obtaining the approval of the dissertation from the chair and agreement from the chair that she/he may schedule the defense;
  • Maintaining communication with the Graduate Program Manager regarding defense scheduling and logistics;
  • Applying on-line through MyGradProgram for the Final Examination (after a time for the defense has been set and all committee members have agreed to attend at the time set).

The Reading Committee is responsible for the following:

  • Meeting with the student for consultation and advice about the dissertation as requested by the student and/or chair;
  • Reading the dissertation and providing comments and feedback to the student in a timely manner;
  • Responding with scheduling information requested by Graduate Program Manager;
  • Responding to announcement of the time set for the Final Examination (defense), agreeing to attend at the time set;
  • Submitting the Report on the Dissertation to the English Graduate Advising Office seven days prior to the scheduled date of the defense.
  • Attending the Final Examination.

In addition to all of the responsibilities of the dissertation committee, the chair is responsible for the following:

  • Meeting with the student for direction, consultation and advice during the research and writing stages of the dissertation;
  • Approving the dissertation before directing the student to request the scheduling of the defense

The Day of the Defense

What it is and who goes

The Final Examination is a one- to two-hour oral examination, conducted by the dissertation committee. The Final Examination is a formal requirement of the Graduate School and attended by at least four members of the committee, including the chair, at least two regular members, and the GSR. The Final Examination is allowed to take place only if the dissertation has been completed and passed by the reading committee.

The Final Examination is a defense of the dissertation intended to extend and engage the topic of the dissertation, intellectual training and background, including issues of pedagogy. It might also be used productively to help the student think about the next step.

How It Is Conducted

  • The English Graduate Advising Staff will provide the chair with the Final Examination warrant and the Reading Committee Approval Form at the beginning of the defense.
  • Dissertation Director officiates.
  • Students may bring one note card but no other written materials.
  • At the beginning of the defense, the student is asked to step out of the room while the Committee discusses logistics, how to conduct the defense and their approach to questioning.
  • Students may be asked for clarification or amplification of issues raised in the dissertation, questions about further research and professional plans.
  • At the conclusion of the defense, the student is asked to step out of the room while the committee discusses the student’s performance. Upon arrival at a decision, the committee chair invites the student back into the room to inform the student of the committee’s decision.
  • The Dissertation Director marks the decision and secures signatures from all committee members on the Final Examination warrant.
  • The signed warrant must be returned immediately to the English Graduate Advising Office for conveyance of the examination results to the Graduate School through MyGradProgram.

Submission of the Dissertation to the Graduate School

After successful completion of the Final Examination, the student completes three further steps to complete the UW Graduate School's requirements for the Ph.D. degree:

  1. Electronic submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School. The electronic dissertation (ETD) will be published by ProQuest/UMI and by the UW Libraries.
  2. Submission of the completed Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee Approval Form to the Graduate School, with original signatures of the Reading Committee.
  3. Submission of the Certificate of Completion of the Survey of Earned Doctorates to the Graduate School; and

These materials must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the quarter. If, for any reason, the deadline is not met, a $250 late fee or registration and payment of tuition for the following quarter is required. The Ph.D. degree will be granted as of the end of the quarter that all of these steps have been completed.