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Exams & Defense

Student Committee Conflict of Interest Statement

The Graduate College strives to protect the academic interests of graduate students, and uphold academic standards of rigor related to student preliminary examination and thesis/dissertation defense committees.  It is important that a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, be avoided.

This policy is applicable for committees for master’s thesis defenses, doctoral preliminary examinations, professional doctorate project defenses (EdD), and doctoral dissertation defenses.

Preliminary Examination (Doctoral)

The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to determine the candidate’s readiness to undertake dissertation research, and passing it constitutes formal Admission to Candidacy. The examination serves as the last major step toward the doctoral degree except for the completion and defense of the dissertation. The examination provides the student with timely feedback of the faculty’s views of his/her potential for completing the doctoral program. The preliminary examination is distinct from the oral defense of the dissertation project.

Some doctoral programs also have a Qualifying Examination, which is distinct from the Preliminary Examination.  Qualifying exams are under the juridiction the the individual program and procedures should be specified in the program handbook.

Project (Master Level)

The requirements and presentation or defense of a master’s project are specified in the individual program handbook. If the program requires a committee review or defense of the project, approval of the composition of the committee by the Graduate College is not needed.  The program must complete a Certificate of Approval for a Master’s Project, and submit it to the Graduate College no later than the term of graduation.

Thesis Defense (Master Level)

Provided that the student has completed all graduation requirements and is in good academic standing, s/he may defend the thesis before a committee. The Graduate College does not require registration for a master’s thesis defense (assuming the course 598 thesis hours were taken previously). However, the student may have to register if a recipient of a tuition and service-fee waiver or on a student visa. Additionally, programs may require registration to defend, as long as this requirement is printed in the departmental student handbook.

Dissertation Defense (Doctoral)

Provided that the student has completed all graduation requirements, is in good academic standing, and is registered for the given term, s/he may defend the dissertation before the committee. A year has to elapse after passing the preliminary examination before the defense of the dissertation.