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Ph.D. in MSE, final term

Two key events occur in the PhD student's final term; Oral Defense of the Dissertation and submission of the Final Approved Dissertation. A student is permitted two attempts to complete the Ph.D. Final Examination.

Timing--The timing of the defense and submission of the final Dissertation relative to Commencement qualification deadlines--and the steps needed in advance of these events--will be important to map out early in the term. 

Application for Final Examination--The student alerts the Graduate School of his/her intention to defend and submit a dissertation by submitting an Application for Final Examination form no less than three weeks before the exam date (more below).

Dissertation Defense--Final Oral Examination

Dissertation Committee

The Final Examination Committee, a.k.a. Dissertation Committee, is to consist of the Dissertation Committee formed for the student's Dissertation Overview (three MSE category P graduate faculty): 

  • The student’s advisor (and co-advisor, if applicable*)
  • Two other MSE faculty members who hold category “P” status, 
  • and [optionally] other OSU faculty of category “P” and/or people from outside OSU. For those outside of OSU, the student must file a Committee and Examination Petition through GradForms.

These committee members are to be listed on the student’s Application to Graduate.


  • You will need to know your committee members’ OSU dot numbers.
  • When selecting an MSE faculty member’s name from the drop down list, select the category P listing for our program, if available.
  • External (i.e., non-OSU) committee members require the additional submission of a Committee and Examination Petition (an on-line form within
  • It is understood that each person listed has been contacted by the student/advisor and has agreed to serve on the committee.

* If the student is co-advised by two MSE faculty, the co-advisor is permitted to be a member of the committee. In other words, at minimum, three MSE faculty must be on the committee; if two are the student's co-advisors that is permitted.

Set the Final Oral Examination date

Establish a Final Oral Examination date (a.k.a. the Dissertation Defense)--4+ weeks before exam. The student is to coordinate with the defense committee and set a date, time, and location (or video conference) for the Final Oral Examination. The exam must take place during university operating hours, ending no later than 5:30 p.m. EST. Coordinating faculty schedules can be difficult so use of an online meeting organizer may be helpful.

  • The Final Oral Exam is to occur on or before the "Examinations and Reports" date in order to qualify for Commencement in that term, or by the "End-of-Semester" date to avoid enrollment in the following term. View Grad School Graduation Calendar.

Application for Final Examination and Dissertation draft

Summary of Application for Final Examination requirements (PDF)

Important: The Application to Graduate must be submitted to the Graduate School before the Application for Final Examination is submitted. 

Once the student has finalized the committee members and set a date & time for the Final Oral Examination, the student alerts the Graduate School of his/her intention to defend and submit a dissertation by submitting an Application for Final Examination form. This is to be submitted no less than three weeks before the exam date.



Application submitted--Student submits an Application for Final Examination on
[Thus a date, time, and room/video conference link must be determined.]

Submit Dissertation draft--At the same time that the Application for Final Examination is submitted you are to provide to your committee members a near-final draft of your Dissertation. The committee is to review the document and post their approval of the draft on GradForms no later than two weeks prior to the exam. Posting approval indicates that the committee feels the draft is of sufficient quality to merit a final oral examination.

Public presentation--Complete the MSE-WE Guest Speaker form to provide the date, time, location/video conference link of your public presentation along with a title, abstract, and interesting bio (more below).



Graduate School formatting review
The Graduate School must review and approve this draft for proper formatting. This review must occur no later than two weeks prior to the final oral examination. The in-person review does not take long, about 30 minutes, but the Graduate School has many dissertations to review; please do not delay until the last day. The format review can take two forms:

  • An in-person format review can be done Monday through Friday, between 9 AM and 4:30 PM, any date the university is open.  Bring a complete, formatted hard copy of the dissertation draft to 247 University Hall.  Graduation Services staff will sit down with you, go through your document, and discuss any formatting issues.

  • A remote format review can by done by emailing a PDF copy of your complete, formatted draft to  Documents submitted are reviewed as quickly as possible in the order the document was received.  Once reviewed, you will receive an email containing any formatting issues as well as information on the final, post defense steps to complete your degree. 

Committee forms
Submitting the Application for Final Examination--and your committee's approval of your dissertation draft--will cause two forms to be available in GradForms for your defense committee, the Report on Final Examination and the Report on Final Document. Your committee will post their decisions on your defense and dissertation using these reports. 



Additionally, the Graduate School will assign a Graduate School Faculty Representative to attend your Final Oral Exam. You will be contacted by the Graduate School approximately one week before the exam with the name and email of the Rep. Please forward to the Rep a copy of your dissertation draft as soon as you receive this notification from the Graduate School.


Format of the Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)

Ref Sec 7.9 of the Graduate School Handbook

The Final Oral Examination lasts approximately two hours. 

The Final Oral Examination is comprised of two parts: 

  1. a public presentation of the research (which may include questions from any attendees) and 
  2. a private examination by the Final Examination Committee (which includes a Graduate School Faculty Representative).

I Public presentation announced to the department

A public presentation of the dissertation research, about 45 mins in length, is to be provided by the student. The Final Examination Committee, along with members of the public, will be present. The presentation is to be announced as follows.

At least three weeks prior to the defense date the student is to:

  1. Secure a room large enough to accommodate the committee and any anticipated guests. Contact staff for room availability. Alternately, a video conference may be scheduled if more appropriate.
  2. Complete MSE-WE Guest Speaker form to provide the date, time, room/video link, title, abstract, and interesting bio for the talk. This will be advertised to allow department faculty and students to attend.

II Committee examination

At least one hour of the two-hour examination period must be allotted to discussion of the research and to questions of and answers by the student. The public will be dismissed allowing the Final Examination Committee to ask questions of the student privately. 

Results of the Final Examination

Following the Final Examination, members of the Final Examination Committee (i.e., MSE faculty and Graduate School Representative) are to post on the Report on Final Examination a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory decision.

Upload the Final Approved Dissertation

The Final Oral Examination makes use of a nearly complete draft of the dissertation. Often during the Final Oral Examination the student is given feedback on the dissertation. This input must be corrected in the dissertation draft before the committee will post its Final Approval on GradForms.

Plan ahead--The student's committee must be provided time to confirm that the necessary changes have been made before the final dissertation can be approved by them via the Report on Final Document--plan accordingly.

All Ph.D. dissertations are required to be submitted electronically – i.e., in PDF format – through the State of Ohio library network OhioLINK. Upload the Final Approved Dissertation to OhioLINK by 8:00 a.m. two full business days before the Graduate School deadline date. 

Missing Commencement deadlines
“End-of-Semester” (EoS) graduation

If Commencement qualification deadlines are missed, the student will not be permitted to take part in Commencement for the term. 

The student then has until the last business day before the start of the next term to submit all required items (forms, fees, documents, etc.). If this final deadline is met, the degree will be awarded during Commencement at the end of the following term. If requested, the Graduate School can provide a verification letter confirming completion of all degree requirements.

Timing note for EoS students: while approve/deny decisions for the Report on Final Examination and Report on Final Document do not need to be posted until the last business day of the term, this timing is somewhat misleading--this is simply an absolute and final submission date! Please understand what has to happen beforehand:

  1. The Final Examination must take place and committee decisions must be posted to by means of the Report on Final Examination. Typically, discussion during the defense leads to changes that must be made to the final dissertation before it will be approved by the committee.
  2. The changes--which may take some time--must be made and then re-circulated to the committee.
  3. The committee must post its approval of the updated dissertation on by means of the Report on Final Document
  4. The final dissertation must be uploaded to OhioLink no later than 8:00 a.m. EST of the last business day before the start of the next term (ideally, submit two business days before the start of the next term). This permits the Grad School staff time to review and approve the document.

Registration for the next term   

IMPORTANT: you must re-enroll and re-apply to graduate!
If the "last business day" deadline is missed, the student must again enroll for at least three graduate credits in the new term and submit a new MSE Request to Graduate using the MSE on-line request form. This will trigger a new review of your status. A new Application to Graduate must be posted to by Tuesday of the third week of that term.


[Return to graduation timeline and further instructions]



More information

Questions? Please contact the MSE-WE Graduate Studies Coordinator, Mark Cooper

Room reservation
To reserve a conference room in Fontana or EJTC.

Graduate School, Graduation Services

Public announcement of the Ph.D. defense--At least one week before the Ph.D. defense date the student is to announce the title, abstract, and location/video conference link for the defense. The student is asked to complete this form which will then be formatted and forwarded to the MSE graduate students and faculty: 
Speaker Presentation form

Summary of deadlines
(see full description at left)

Apply to Graduate
- On GradForms by 3rd Friday of term

Three weeks before Oral Exam
- Submit Application for Final Examination on GradForms
- Submit Dissertation draft to committee
- Complete public presentation form

Two weeks before Oral Exam
- Grad School formatting review of Dissertation draft

One week before Oral Exam
- Forward Dissertation draft to Grad School Faculty Rep

Following the Oral Exam
- Make any final corrections to Dissertation and circulate to committee
- Upload final Dissertation to OhioLINK

See Graduation Calendar

End-of-Semester graduate
A degree applicant who does not meet graduation deadlines to qualify for Commencement in term of application but who does complete all degree requirements by the last business day prior to the start of the next term.

  • Such a student will receive the degree at or after Commencement in the following term.
  • Enrollment in that following term is not required to receive the degree. 
  • If requested, the Graduate School can provide a verification letter confirming completion of all degree requirements.