Dissertation Defense

The Dissertation Defense is a formal, oral presentation based on your original, independent research. Following the seminar presentation is a closed meeting with your Certification Committee. Per Graduate School policy, the Dissertation Defense must be completed within five years after completion of the Preliminary Exam. The dissertation must be formatted according to the guidelines of the Graduate School. Please review the Guide to Preparing Your Doctoral Dissertation.

Steps to Complete:

  • Schedule Dissertation Defense, designate meeting chair, and reserve room locations (All committee members must be present).
  • Submit  your Final PhD Warrant Request Form at least 3 weeks in advance of your scheduled defense.
  • Distribute copy of dissertation to Certification Committee members at least 10 days before the date of exam. Students should be prepared to provide hard copies or electronic copies, as preferred by individual committee members.
  • Present public seminar and then defend and answer questions posed by Certification Committee in closed meeting.
  • Obtain signatures on the warrant.
  • Update Graduate Program Coordinator and HR Payroll Specialist with your deposit date 10 days prior to deposit.
  • After you pass your oral defense, you can schedule your final review appointment at the Grad School
  • Payment of Dissertation Deposit Fee.
  • Completion of Exit Surveys:  The following doctoral exit surveys must be completed before submitting your dissertation electronically. Each individual survey will provide a certificate of completion once you have submitted the survey. The individual certificates of completion should each be saved as PDF documents to be uploaded in the administrative documents section of the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator website.
    • Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) certificate of completion
    • Graduate School’s Doctoral Exit Survey
  • Deposit your dissertation electronically.  All corrections and revisions must be made before depositing; you are not allowed to make changes after submission. You should deposit your dissertation at least one day before your final review appointment.
  • Graduate School Final Review:  As of Fall 2016, final review appointments are not required, but are optional for those students who wish to confirm in person or via Skype that the dissertation submission has been accepted and all degree requirements have been met.  If you choose the Skype option you must contact the Graduate School at your scheduled appointment time.  You can simply search for “UWGrad SchoolFinalReview” or “finalreview@grad.wisc.edu” on Skype to make the call.  If you choose to do a final review by Skype, you MUST upload the signed PhD warrant in the Administrative Documents section of Proquest/UMI ETD Administrator website. To schedule an optional final review appointment, you must have successfully defended your dissertation, paid the dissertation deposit fee, completed the doctoral exit surveys, and submitted your dissertation electronically to the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator website. Final review appointments are made online using the UW-Madison Scheduling Assistant. Final review times usually take about 10 minutes. Please click here to view final review appointment availability.
  • Submit the following materials to the Program Coordinator:
    • Copy of the signed warrant
    • Complete Alumni Address Update Online Form
    • 3-4 printed copies of your dissertation which will be bound for you; one copy for your Advisor, one copy for McArdle, and 1-2 copies for you (Please note that ordering additional copies from ProQuest is separate from these copies. You will be responsible for paying for any additional copies ordered through ProQuest).
  • Request your Degree Completion Letter:  The Office of the Registrar provides Degree Completion Letters. If you have completed all degree requirements and deposited your thesis or dissertation and are waiting until the next degree conferral date to receive your degree, you may request and receive a letter indicating that all requirements have been completed. All grades from the semester in which you are depositing your dissertation (and all other outstanding grades) must be reported to the Graduate School before you can receive a completion letter.