A Ph.D. student becomes a Ph.D. candidate as soon as he or she passes qualifying exams.  When coursework is completed and a Ph.D. student is studying for exams, they register for research hours. Having passed exams, Ph.D. candidates writing dissertations are required to register for 15 dissertation hours per semester, continually (including summers) from the first semester after the candidate passes exams through the graduation semester. You register for Dissertation I hours until you have accrued 30 hours. Then you register continually for Dissertation II hours until you graduate. Contact the Graduate Secretary for instructions on how to register for Dissertation hours.

When the prospectus is approved by the dissertation committee, candidates are required to submit a Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus Form ( to the Graduate Secretary, which requires the signatures of all committee members (including the fourth member from outside the Department). Candidates are required to submit this form no later than the semester before their graduation semester. If the topic or title of the dissertation change, a new form must be filed.

The Graduate Secretary must be informed of dates and times for the Dissertation pre-defense and defense meetings as soon as these are established by the Dissertation Committee.

No later than one week before the defense, the candidate will provide electronic copies of the following to the Graduate Secretary:

  1. A dissertation abstract of no more than 350 words, which the Graduate Secretary will attach to the Dissertation Defense announcement;
  2. The dissertation signature page. The Graduate Secretary will then print two copies of this page on 100% bond paper, as required by the University. See the most recent Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide ( for correct format. Correctly formatted pages are due by the dissertation filing deadline, and the Dean will refuse the pages if they are not formatted correctly; this kind of error has the potential to delay a candidate’s graduation.

Dissertations must be filed with the University electronically before graduation. Dissertating students are strongly encouraged to consult these two sites early and often: the Library Electronic Thesis and Dissertation page ( and the Thesis and Dissertation Style Guide ( Typically, the dissertation filing deadline is roughly two weeks after the deadline for oral defense. For exact deadlines, which vary by semester, see

University dissertation defense guidelines are here: