The final exam represents the culminating milestone in the PhD process. Because most of the details of the final exam are determined by the Graduate School, students are encouraged to review the information provided on their site under Doctoral Degree Policies. Of particular relevance are guidelines concerning the timing, outcomes and people involved in the exam (i.e., the reading committee).
There are several steps to be taken prior to defending the dissertation and submitting the final manustript, described below.
- Scheduling the Exam
- Reading Committee
- Submitting the Dissertation Manuscript
- Graduate Registration Fee Waiver
Once all members of the supervisory committee agree on the date and time of the defense, the candidate submits a final exam request through MyGrad. The Director of Academic Services will approve the request, generating an automated email sent to all committee members. Defenses cannot be scheduled outside of the established academic quarters, and students must be enrolled in at least 1 credit during the quarter in which they defend their dissertation.
The student must send the dissertation document, title, and abstract to their committee chair(s) 3 weeks prior to their scheduled dissertation defense date. If the committee chair(s) approve(s), they will forward the title, abstract, date/time and location to the Communications Manager for advertising the defense at least 2 weeks prior to the defense date. The dissertation defense is broadcast to the community by the Communications Manager.
At least three members of the supervisory committee serve on the reading committee. At least one of the members of the reading committee must hold an endorsement to chair doctoral committees. The reading committee is appointed to read and approve the dissertation.
When the reading committee has read a draft of the entire dissertation and the members of the doctoral supervisory committee agree that the Candidate is prepared to take the Final Examination, all members of the doctoral supervisory committee must give the student approval to schedule the Final Examination. At the Final Examination the dissertation is evaluated and, if a majority of the supervisory committee members in attendance agree that the evaluation is positive, the recommendation is made to the Dean of the Graduate School (via the warrant) that the degree be awarded. If members of the doctoral supervisory committee do not agree with the majority recommendation concerning the examination, the minority report portion of the warrant must be used. See Memo 13: Supervisory Committee for Graduate Students for more information.
The Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation site has an extensive set of information and resources to assist with the submission of the final manuscript. There are two forms requiring signatures as part of the dissertation defense:
- Warrant for Final Examination for the Doctoral Degree – provided to committee chair(s) by the Director of Academic Services
- Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee Approval Form – printed out by student via MyGrad and brought to their dissertation defense.
The $250 Graduate Registration Waiver Fee is an optional fee paid in lieu of registration. It is available to eligible students for a specific period of time. Dissertations must be submitted in the UW ETD Administrator Site no later than 14 calendar days after the end of the previous quarter.
Eligible students who pay this fee will graduate in the following quarter (e.g., a student who missed the deadline to graduate in Spring 2019 and pays the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee will have a summer 2019 degree conferral date).
Note: International students must consult with an advisor in the International Student Services office to determine eligibility for the Graduate Registration Fee Waiver.