M.S. Final Oral Examination (Thesis Defense) information.

Each M.S. candidate is required to pass a final oral examination prior to being awarded the M.S. The final oral examination of the M.S. candidate is administered, overseen, and evaluated by the entire M.S. Advisory Committee.

M.S. candidates enrolled in a dual-title degree program must orally defend a thesis on a topic that reflects their original research and training in both their graduate program and their dual-title program.

Questions from the oral examination will relate in large part to the thesis but may cover the candidate’s entire program of study. The specific approach is left to the committee members’ discretion.

It is highly advisable for both students and faculty advisers to start preparations for the Final Oral Examination months in advance.

Final Oral Examination Timeline

The semester prior to graduation, the student meets with the adviser to 1) ascertain if all requirements for the degree have been met, 2) verify that the thesis 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.

The adviser contacts the M.S. Advisory 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.

The adviser submits the Request to Schedule Examination form to the Graduate Program Coordinator with the date, time, location, and thesis title (and the list of committee members) 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 sent to the Graduate Coordinator.

The Graduate Coordinator schedules the examination for M.S. candidates. The Graduate Coordinator will announce the thesis defense to the Department's listservs (faculty, grad students, associates, and staff) by way of e-mail transmittal at least 7 days prior to the scheduled date. The presentation part of the M.S. Final Oral Examination is open to the public.

The student, in consultation with the adviser, is responsible for ensuring the completion of a final draft of the thesis, and for adequate consultation with members of the doctoral committee, well in advance of the final oral examination. The thesis should be complete and in its “final” form, with correct and polished content and style, appropriate notes, bibliography, tables, etc., at the time it is distributed to the committee members. The student delivers the thesis 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 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. The student should be prepared to defend the methodology, findings, and conclusions of the thesis, 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.

If, in the opinion of a committee member, the thesis is not ready to be defended, that member shall notify the committee chair/academic adviser one (1) week in advance of the final original examination date. The committee member should indicate his/her concerns regarding the draft and may recommend consideration of postponement of the examination to the committee chair/thesis adviser. The chair/adviser, in consultation with committee members, is responsible for notifying the student and assessing whether the student can make the necessary revisions to the final draft before the examination date. If it is determined that revisions cannot be made in time, the final oral examination must be postponed. Written notification of this postponement shall be communicated by the adviser to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

The final oral examination is focused on the student’s completed thesis. The student should be able to defend the methodology, findings, and conclusions of the thesis, and be able to relate findings to the pertinent literature. Little time during the examination should be spent on minor editorial comments that can be addressed in separate meetings with the committee members.

Reporting Results

Following the Final Oral Examination there will be a closed discussion between the student and the student's M.S. Committee

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

The adviser presents the results of the Final Oral Examination in writing to the Graduate Program Coordinator immediately following the examination. The student’s committee chair returns the completed Graduate School's Report on the M.S. Assessment Communication Evaluation form to the Graduate Coordinator where a copy is made for placement in the student’s academic file.

If a candidate fails the examination, it is the responsibility of the M.S. Committee, in consultation with the program head regarding program guidelines, to determine whether the student will be granted an opportunity to retake the examination.

Thesis Submission

The Office of Thesis and Dissertation mandates the submission of students' thesis for both format review and a thorough final assessment through the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Application.

Once the final thesis is submitted, it will be digitally signed by the student’s committee members via the eTD application.

Failure to meet the submission deadlines imposed by the Graduate School will result in the disqualification of your graduation eligibility for the corresponding semester.