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Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Registration Requirements

Students must be registered from the term the Preliminary Examination is taken through the term of a successful defense of the dissertation, excluding summers unless the Preliminary Examination or defense occur in a Summer term. If the defense will occur before the Withdrawal date of the term (first ten days in Fall, first five days in Summer, first nine days in Fall) and the student was registered the previous term (Summer term for a Fall defense), registration is not required.  A defense after the Withdrawal date of the term requires registration that term.  (Note: for Summer 2008, Spring registration will satisfy the requirement for a defense through June 20, 2008.)  If the student has a fellowship, assistantship and/or tuition waiver for the term, the student must be registered for the required hours or resign the award or assistantship.  If the student is on a student visa, consult with the Office of International Services.  Students should also consult with their program to determine if the program requires registration.

Students may petition for zero (0) hours once the preliminary exam is passed, assuming all requirements are completed except for the dissertation. See additional information on zero-hour registration.

Registration for terms after the term of a successful defense is not required if official graduation does not occur the term of the defense, unless the student is the recipient of a fellowship, assistantship and/or tuition and service-fee waiver, or is on a student visa.

Note for Student Visa Holders:  Current SEVIS (federal immigration) regulations do not allow an international student on a student visa to register for more than zero (0) hours in a subsequent term, if the student was registered for zero (0) hours previously, unless the student is admitted into a different program.  This  precludes accepting an assistantship or tuition waiver for future terms after a zero-hour registration occurs.  The rationale for the regulation is that zero-hour registration is allowed for students on a visa only if all requirements other than the thesis or master's project are completed, and registration for more than zero hours indicates that they did not originally qualify, and, are thus out of status.  Unfortunately, flexibility to take a course for intellectual development or to register for hours to qualify for an assistantship or tuition waiver after zero hour registration does not exist currently.

Dissertation Advisor 

All candidates for the Ph.D. degree must have an advisor who is a full member of the UIC graduate faculty. The advisor is considered the primary reader of the dissertation.


The defense must be open to the academic community of the University and be publicly announced one week prior to its occurrence.

Committee Composition

The dissertation committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College on the recommendation of the student's department or program. The defense committee consists of at least five persons, of whom one must be from outside their program. The chair of the committee must be a full member of the UIC graduate faculty. At least two members of the committee must be tenured faculty at UIC; at least one must be from outside the degree-granting program, which may include graduate faculty from other UIC departments or colleges. The outside member can also be from outside the University in which case the member must demonstrate equivalent academic standards; the member's curriculum vitae must accompany the Committee Recommendation form.

See list of UIC Graduate College Faculty.

A Committee Recommendation form must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three (3) weeks prior to the dissertation defense.  The staff in the Graduate College reviews the Committee Recommendation form and, if the recommended committee meets Graduate College guidelines, approval is given by the Dean. The academic status of the student is checked to ensure that s/he is in good academic standing. A letter is then prepared by the Graduate College to each member of the committee asking him or her to serve on the committee. The letter is sent to the graduate program for distribution to each committee member.

The Examination Report form is sent to the graduate program support person after the committee is approved by the Graduate College Dean. It should be filed in the student's folder so it is available when the examination is held and all committee members may sign. This form cannot be duplicated and changes cannot be made without prior approval of the Graduate College.


The committee vote is "pass" or "fail". A candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of "fail" is reported. After the candidate's defense, the Examination Report form signed by all members of the committee must be submitted to the Graduate College immediately. Once the examination report is returned to the Graduate College, the results are posted to the student's record in the Graduate College. If the vote is "pass", that degree requirement is now satisfied and the student may take the next step toward graduation. If the vote is "fail", the committee may recommend that the Dean permit a second defense. This second examination must be initiated by submission of a new Committee Recommendation form, even if there is no change in membership. A third defense will not be permitted.

A committee may recommend "pass - with specified conditions". If this does occur, the conditions must be specified on the Examination Report Form along with the name of a committee member who will monitor the fulfillment of any such conditions. This named person must then report to the Graduate College in a memo when conditions have been satisfied.