Public Dissertation Defense

The Psychology Department adopts the procedure of holding a public defense for graduate students who are defending their dissertation projects. You may also invite family members and friends outside of the department. The defense should be scheduled for a two-hour period.

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Structure of the Defense

  1. You must prepare a 40-45-minute PowerPoint presentation to present your project to the public audience.
  2. Following the presentation, you will take questions from the audience with the caveat that the public presentation will end ~55 minutes into the first hour. The examining committee members should refrain from asking their questions during this time.
  3. During the second hour, after questions from the audience are addressed, all but the candidate and examining committee members are dismissed from the room. The Committee uses the second hour to ask additional questions and to vote on the defense.

Remember to contact your area support staff for any additional requirements for your area.


At least two weeks prior to the oral exam:

  • Inform your Area Support Person about the…
    • Date and time of your oral exam
    • Names of emails of your committee members
    • Name of the Committee Member who is serving as the Chair of your committee
    • Modality of your defense (in-person, hybrid, or remote)
    • Location of your defense:
      • Note: In most cases, your area support person will schedule your defense in N219. If you’d prefer your defense to be scheduled in N391, N491 (Paterson-Sunnette Room), or N639, please let them know when contacting them.
  • Complete the Public Dissertation Defense Announcement Form (below)
    • Note: All fields with an asterisk (*) are required. This includes the…
      • title of your thesis
      • abstract of your thesis
      • names of your advisor(s)
    • After the form is submitted, an announcement regarding your defense will be sent to the full department about two weeks and the day before your oral exam.
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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