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Final Oral Exam

Students and faculty advisers should be preparing for the Final Oral Examination months in advance; the semester prior to scheduling the Final Oral Examination, the student and their adviser should request a written transcript audit to confirm that the student is on track for the defense, verifying that there are no missing grades and no missing credit requirements, and that there are not too many graded thesis 600-level credits.

The Final Examination is oral and related in large part to the thesis/dissertation, but it may cover the candidate’s whole program of study without regard to courses that have been taken either here or elsewhere. It is scheduled after completion of other requirements for the degree.

1. The student meets with the adviser to: (1) ascertain if all of the course requirements for the degree have been met; (2) verify that the thesis/dissertation is complete, and (3) arrange possible date, time, and place of examination. The adviser should have records available at the examination indicating compliance with degree requirements.

2. The adviser contacts the committee members and arranges a convenient time for the examination within specified time limits set by the Graduate School in relation to date of graduation (and Comprehensive Examination for the Ph.D).

3. The adviser contacts the Department's Office of Graduate Studies with the date, time, location, and thesis/dissertation title (and the list of committee members, in the case of PhD candidates) at least four (4) weeks before the scheduled date. An updated copy of the Graduate Academic Plan, signed by the student and the adviser, is taken to the Department's Office of Graduate Studies at this time.

4. The Administrative Support Assistant in the Department's Office of Graduate Studies, with the Graduate Program Coordinator's approval, then schedules the examination for PhD candidates via a letter through the Graduate School using the form in Appendix H. The adviser may request that the Administrative Support Assistant in the Department's Office of Graduate Studies announce the thesis/dissertation defense to the Department's various listservs (faculty, grad students, associates, and staff) by way of e-mail transmittal (in writing) at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date, or the adviser may do this himself/herself with a copy to the Administrative Support Assistant in the Department's Office of Graduate Studies. The presentation part of the PhD Final Oral Examination is open to the public. Master’s thesis exams are to be similarly announced, but students and the general public may be excluded at the discretion of the adviser.

5. The student delivers the thesis/dissertation in final format approved by the adviser, and in compliance with the "Thesis Information Bulletin," to the committee members at least two (2) weeks prior to the Final Oral Examination. The thesis/dissertation should be reviewed by members of the student’s committee prior to the examination. At the time of the Final Oral Examination major revisions should not be necessary. If, in the opinion of a committee member, the thesis/dissertation is not ready to be defended, he shall request that the adviser postpone the examination. The student should be prepared to defend the methodology, findings, and conclusions of the thesis/dissertation, and relate the findings to pertinent literature during the examination. Little time should be spent on minor editorial comments that can be resolved in separate meetings with committee members.

6. A two-thirds favorable vote of the student’s committee is required for successful completion of the Final Oral Examination.

7. The adviser presents the results of the Final Oral Examination in writing to the Department's Office of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Coordinator immediately following the examination. There is now a Department of Ecosystem Science and Management Report on Master's Final Oral Examination - Thesis Defense which is to be completed, signed, and dated and then returned to the Department's Office of Graduate Studies (319 FRB). In the case of the PhD final examination, the student’s committee chair also returns the completed Graduate School's Report on the Doctoral Final Oral Examination form to the Department's Office of Graduate Studies where a copy is made for placement in the student’s academic file and the original is then sent to the Graduate School.