Each PhD and EdD student must produce and defend a dissertation showing high scholarly achievement based on his/her original research. The student is expected to submit an electronic document as evidence of this research. Students in all other doctoral programs should consult their academic programs for the capstone experience required in their programs.

Doctoral Dissertation Defense Notices

Students are required to announce their defense on the Graduate School web page. Announcements are made through https://gradapps.uc.edu/GraduationChecklist/

Dissertation Adviser and Committee

When the student has been admitted into doctoral candidacy and has selected a dissertation subject and committee chairperson, a dissertation committee will be appointed by the Graduate School upon recommendation of the program director or director of graduate studies (in consultation with the committee chair and student). Students have the right to request a change in the committee but must do so in consultation with the graduate program director and his/her program must make the change in Grad Tracker. Preferably, the dissertation committee will include at least one person from outside the program. This might be someone from the university faculty who has competence or interest in the dissertation area or, in special circumstances, someone from outside the university. The committee should be appointed as soon as feasible after the student has selected his/her topic and adviser.

A dissertation committee must be composed of a minimum of three full- time faculty members at UC with permanent professorial rank (i.e., tenure-track full, assistant, and associate professors -- not adjunct, educator or visiting). Research faculty may serve on the committee and chair. Educator faculty may not chair thesis committees, but can serve as committee members with the prior approval of the Graduate School. Emeriti professors may remain on the committee if they were members when the proposal was accepted and were full-time tenured, graduate faculty. A faculty member originally on a student’s committee who leaves UC to take an academic position elsewhere may also continue to serve on the student’s committee if both the faculty member and the student agree to continue the relationship.

However, neither an emeritus professor nor a faculty member from another institution may serve as the chair of the committee. If a faculty member or appropriate professional practitioner has special expertise in a dissertation topic, such a person may be added to the dissertation committee if he/she is nominated by the candidate and approved by both the chairperson of the dissertation committee, the director of graduate studies for the academic unit involved and the Director of the Graduate School. Such a person would serve as a full voting member of the dissertation committee without compensation from either the university or the candidate.

A copy of the completed dissertation must be submitted to each committee member for critical evaluation. If it is considered to be satisfactory with respect to form and content by the committee, a final defense of the dissertation can be scheduled.

The Graduate School defines the category “Graduate Faculty” to include permanent (i.e., tenured or tenure-track) members of the UC faculty who have been authorized to lead the original scholarship of graduate students by the unit in which they hold their primary academic appointments, and with the approval of the Graduate School. A member of the “Graduate Faculty” is a professor who is authorized to chair a doctoral dissertation committee, and such a person must be a tenured or tenure-track professor. Professors who serve in non-tenure-track roles (e.g., educators, research faculty and visiting professors) are not members of the Graduate Faculty and may not chair dissertation committees and, ordinarily, serve on them. They may, on a case by case basis approved by the Director of the Graduate School in advance, serve as committee members if the appointing unit demonstrates that their expertise is relevant and necessary for the thesis project and that they are research-active, established practitioners in their fields.

Final Defense of Dissertation

Students should check with their program office for the final deadline for their dissertation defense. The student’s final defense of the dissertation will be open to the public and all members of the academic community. Students are required to enter details of their dissertation defense, such as time, date, and location, online at the Graduate School website through the Graduation checklist steps. Begin at: http://grad.uc.edu/student-life/graduation.html. One can also browse scheduled dissertation defenses by visiting the defense announcement page.

The candidate answers questions posed by members of the committee and other members of the audience following an oral presentation of his/her dissertation. At the conclusion of the defense, the committee will withdraw, make a decision with regard to the acceptability of the dissertation and its defense, and report its decision to the candidate. At least ¾ of the voting members of the dissertation committee (including at least one representative of each major area involved, in the case of interdisciplinary programs) must approve the dissertation.

When the student’s dissertation committee chair has approved a defense, the student should assure that they have met all requirements for graduation including those in the graduation information obtained online.

Use of a Moderator

Although an outside moderator is not required, a moderator may be assigned by the Dean upon the request of the candidate, the chairperson of the dissertation committee, or the person empowered to approve the composition of a dissertation committee (the director of graduate studies for the academic unit involved). Moderators should be members of the all-University Graduate Faculty from outside the academic unit involved. The duties of the moderator are limited to observing the oral defense of the dissertation and reporting in writing to the Dean on the academic propriety of the proceedings.

Submission of Dissertation

After a dissertation has been approved, the candidate for the doctoral degree must submit his/her electronic dissertation by following the most current detailed instructions found at http://grad.uc.edu/student-life/graduation.html. Students in all other doctoral programs should consult their academic programs for the capstone experience required in their programs. Deadlines are posted at http://gradapps.uc.edu/graduationdeadlines/graduation-deadlines.aspx.

  • All theses/dissertations must be electronically submitted by the student and approved by the advisor. Students log in at: https://gradapps.uc.edu/GraduationChecklist/
  • Advisors are sent an email when the student submits for his/her approval, and the advisor then logs in to review/approve at https://gradapps.uc.edu/gradetdfacultyreview/
  • Once approved by the chair, the student is notified by email.
  • A Graduate School approval email is sent to the student once reviewed.
  • The program is copied on all email correspondence during the Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) approval process.