Each PhD and EdD student must produce and defend a dissertation showing high scholarly achievement based on his/her 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 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 (see description of Graduate Faculty below) and all members of the 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 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.

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 by the Graduate School Dean to lead the original thesis or dissertation scholarship of graduate students, and therefore chair thesis or dissertation committees. Faculty members are nominated for graduate faculty status by the program most closely aligned with the academic unit holding their primary academic appointment, and with the approval of their college Dean or Associate Dean in charge of graduate education. Professors who serve in non-tenure-track roles (e.g., educators, research faculty and visiting professors) are not members of the Graduate Faculty. Due to their ability to support original research over extended intervals, research faculty may also serve on the committee and chair.

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. Other non-tenure track faculty categories may not chair dissertation committees but may, on a case by case basis approved by the Director of the Graduate School in advance, serve as additional committee members  (beyond the 3 minimum) if the appointing unit demonstrates that their expertise is beneficial for the dissertation project. 

Neither an emeritus professor nor a faculty member from another institution may serve as the chair of the committee. Emeriti professors 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 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. 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 School 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 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 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 his/her approval, and the advisor then logs in to review/approve.
  • 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.