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Thesis Defense

Each student must complete an original research study and produce a dissertation acceptable to the faculty research supervisor and the thesis committee. The examination is concerned primarily with the contents of the dissertation, but it may include more general questions as well.  The examination of the dissertation will be announced and open to the public, but the examining committee has the discretion to exclude the public during part of the examination for additional questioning of the candidate.

Before the Ph.D. Exam:
  1. Check deadlines for submission of all paperwork listed below. 
  2. Work with your advisor to select a tentative oral examination timeframe. Please work with your Thesis Committee to schedule an exact date and time (2 hours in length) to schedule the examination and closed-door questions. 
  3. After a date has been selected, please meet with the graduate program assistants in the main office to discuss deadlines and scheduling.
  4. Application for Degree form:  This can be filled out via GSTS.  Login to GSTS, click on "TGS Forms" > "Application for Degree" online form.
  5. Ph.D. Final Exam form:  Login to GSTS to complete and submit the form.  The form will be submitted to The Graduate School electronically for final approval.
  6. At least two weeks before the exam, please provide the committee with a copy of your thesis.
After Ph.D. Exam:
  1. Once your dissertation has been approved by your committee and all edits and revisions are complete, submit it online via ProQuest.  The dissertation must conform to TGS formatting standards.
  2. Please complete the following exit surveys.

Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED)
The Graduate School Ph.D. Exit Survey

Additional Reminders

  1. If you have student health insurance through Northwestern University and you would like to cancel it, see the cancellation instructions.
  2. For information on commencement and hooding ceremonies.
  3. The Intent to Participate form is required for students taking part in The Graduate School Hooding Ceremony and must be filled out by the deadline. 
  4. For regalia rental/purchase deadlines
  5. Check CAESAR for holds on your record. Your diploma and copies of your transcript may not be released if you have holds. Contact the Office of Student Accounts with questions.