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

Dissertation Adviser and Committee

When the student has been admitted into doctoral candidacy and has selected a dissertation subject and dissertation advisor, a dissertation committee should be appointed as soon as possible. The dissertation advisor must be qualified to serve as the chair of the dissertation committee, meaning this faculty member must be a member of the university graduate faculty and all members of the committee will be appointed by the Graduate College 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 their program must make the change in GradTracker. Preferably, the dissertation committee will include at least one person from outside the program, who might be faculty from the University of Cincinnati or another institution.

A dissertation committee must be composed of a minimum of three UC faculty members. Members of the university graduate faculty are eligible to serve on all thesis and dissertation committees. In addition, all tenured and tenure-track faculty members may serve on all thesis and dissertation committees (even if they are not members of the university graduate faculty, meaning they may not serve in the chair role and cannot act as primary advisors). Other types of UC faculty members may serve on committees if the appointing unit demonstrates that their expertise is beneficial for the dissertation project. Programs should make such requests to the Graduate College in advance, to be ascertained on a case-by-case basis.

Neither an emerit faculty member nor a faculty member from another institution may serve as the chair of the committee. Emerit faculty may remain on the committee if they were members when the proposal was accepted. 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. If a non-UC faculty member or appropriate professional practitioner has special expertise in a dissertation topic, such a person may be added to the dissertation committee if they are 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 Graduate College. All such individuals serve as a full voting member of the dissertation committee without compensation from either the university or the candidate and would serve in addition to the minimum number of three qualified full-time UC faculty.

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

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 College website through the Graduation checklist steps. Begin at the Graduation webpage. One can also browse scheduled dissertation defenses by visiting the Upcoming Dissertation Defenses page.

The candidate answers questions posed by members of the committee and other members of the audience following an oral presentation of their 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 Graduate College 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 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 Graduate College 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 their electronic dissertation by following the current instructions found at the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information webpage. Students in all other doctoral programs should consult their academic programs for the capstone experience required in their programs. Deadlines are posted at the Graduation Deadlines page.

  • All thesis/dissertations must be electronically submitted by the student and approved by the advisor. Students log in via the link available on the Graduation webpage. 
  • Advisors are sent an email when the student submits for their approval, and the advisor then logs in to review/approve.
  • Once approved by the chair, the student is notified by email.
  • A Graduate College 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.