Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies


Scheduling the Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense takes place after all members of the dissertation committee have read the dissertation. The student and the supervisor, in negotiation with the dissertation committee members, should determine a time and date for the defense. Each member of your committee must receive a copy of your dissertation at least four weeks prior to your dissertation defense date. You must schedule the dissertation defense with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense date by completing the Request for Final Oral Examination form. The Graduate Coordinator schedules a block of four hours. All members of your committee must sign your request form indicating their intent to be present at your final oral. Your graduate adviser must also sign this form to indicate you have been approved to defend.

It is expected that all members of the committee attend the defense, either in person or via teleconference. The Graduate School does not distinguish between physical attendance or electronic/virtual attendance. If one non-supervisory committee member is unable to attend the defense, there must be an explanation of the member’s absence, together with an assurance that your dissertation will be read, and if approved, signed.  There is a pre-typed section on the 2nd page of the Request for Final Oral Examination form, which may be used, or an attached letter may be used.  These explanations must be signed by the committee member in question, OR your committee supervisor, OR your graduate adviser.  Call the Graduate School at 512-471-4511 with any questions concerning this.

When you submit the Request for Final Oral Examination form to the Graduate School, you should include one copy each of the dissertation abstract, title page, and Signature Page (unsigned) for a format check.


During the Dissertation Defense

During the defense, the student presents a synopsis of their findings and then responds to questions of committee members. When the session ends, committee members deliberate behind closed doors and come to a decision that is conveyed to the student.

Four decisions are possible:

  1. PASS. This decision means that both the defense and the dissertation are acceptable. In some cases, the committee may require minor revisions, which will be checked by the supervising professor.
  2. RECONSIDERATION. This decision indicates that extensive revision of the dissertation is necessary, but that the committee is willing to re-evaluate the revised document without requiring another oral examination. The student should complete these revisions in no more than three months.
  3. NOT PASS. This decision indicates that committee is not satisfied with the dissertation, but believes that rewriting may make it acceptable.
  4. FAIL. This decision indicates that at least one member of the committee has decided that the dissertation is unsatisfactory and may not be rewritten.

Think about it: If you stay in close contact with your committee members throughout the writing process, you should have a general idea of the direction in which the defense will go. A dissertation defense should be a celebratory moment for you and your friends and colleagues. Come prepared!

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