Dissertation Review & Final Oral Exam

The final steps to earn the PhD have three core components, each with forms and procedures that must be followed, and in this order:

  1. All committee members designated as reviewers read the full manuscript and certify that the PhD candidate can proceed to the final oral exam.
  2. A public dissertation defense followed by a closed-door final oral examination by the committee is required by the graduate school. 
  3. Revisions of the dissertation manuscript, if required, based on feedback from the committee; final formatting work; and deposit of the final dissertation manuscript. 

Consult GSSP's Degree Completion Steps, the Graduate Student Handbook and your area handbook for additional, detailed guidance on final exam formats, timelines, and expectations.

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  • Committee Submission Workflow - Review examination committee policies and declare or update the examination committee. Submit the semester before you plan to defend when possible.
  • Reviewer’s Report Form - initiate the electronic workflow when you distribute your dissertation manuscript to your committee. You will have the option to attach an electronic copy of your dissertation if desired. Plan to initiate this workflow about three weeks before the defense and final oral exam when possible, but at least one week in advance.
  • Final Oral Examination Results form - the link to initiate this form for your committee chair will be emailed to you after you have scheduled your oral exam and been cleared by GSSP to proceed. 


  • Check the Department of Psychology calendar to identify potential scheduling conflicts with departmental programming and meetings.
  • Consider using Doodle or a similar scheduling tool to identify times in common with your committee members for the oral final exam. 
  • Work with your committee to determine the exam modality. If you will be holding a remote defense, review and follow the Procedure for Holding Final Defenses Remotely.
  • At least two weeks before your exam:
    • Contact your Area Support Person and tell them:
      • The date and time of your oral defense
      • The names and emails of your committee members
      • The name of the faculty member who is serving as the chair of your committee
      • The modality of your defense (in-person, hybrid, or remote)
    • Review the instructions and complete the form for the Public Dissertation Defense
  • At least one week before your exam:


  • All committee members designated as reviewers must read your dissertation and certify that it is ready for oral defense. This is communicated by the Reviewers’ Report Form. You will receive email notifications communicating the results. 
  • Committee chairs communicate oral exam results verbally at the end of the exam and report the results using an electronic form. You must initiate this form using the link provided in GSSP’s scheduling confirmation email. You will receive confirmation emails from GSSP when the results form has been received and processed.
Pat Frazier
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
N571 EltH | 625-6863
Laura Luepke
Associate Director of Graduate Studies (ADGS)
S243 EltH | 626-3483
Hope Savaria
Graduate Program Support & Event Specialist
S244 EltH | TBD
Heidi Wolff
Curriculum and Graduate Services Specialist
S258 EltH | 624-5002
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