PhD Thesis Defense

The main purpose of the PhD Thesis Defense is to have a committee of faculty examine the doctoral candidate on the scope of the thesis and its significance in relation to the major subject.

Before scheduling your PhD Thesis Defense you should have completed the following:

  • Two terms of Ph242 - Physics Seminar - This course should be taken during your first two terms of graduate study.
  • Two written candidacy exams - see the basic physics requirement information for details, the exams should be attempted by the end of first year and successfully completed by the end of second year.
  • The advanced requirement courses should be completed by the end of your second year.
  • The oral candidacy exam should be completed by the end of your third year.

How to Schedule Your PhD Thesis Defense

For those students about to schedule their PhD thesis defense, follow these steps:

  • Discuss the exam date and committee with your advisor.  You will need a total of four people, including your advisor.   Tradition has it that theorists should have at least one experimentalist on their committee, and experimentalists should have at least one theorist.  If you want to include people from other departments or even other universities on your committee, this is permitted. You may elect to have the same committee members as for your Oral Candidacy Exam. 
  • Send an e-mail to Gil Refael or Jonas Zmiudzinas for pre-approval of your committee.  This will also need to be officially approved online in Regis.
  • After you have your list approved, ask the people on the list if they are willing to serve on your committee.  
  • Arrange a date and time with your committee for your presentation.
  • Book a room for your presentation (Contact the PMA Student Programs Office for rooms in E. Bridge)
  • Well before your proposed defense date you should begin the online process through Regis to set up your exam date, time, location and committee membership.  
  • Option Representative Jonas Zmuidzinas and Division Chair Fiona Harrison must electronically sign where indicated.
  • Your committee members must all electronically sign where indicated.
  • For students who defend during third term, most teaching, research assignments and fellowships will end on June 30th which means your last paycheck will be issued at the end of June. You must notify the PMA Student Programs Office of your future employment start date well in advance of the June payroll date. Graduate and post-doctoral assignments cannot overlap. This is especially urgent for international students and could cause visa issues.