Preparing for Your Defense

Towards the beginning of the spring semester, the committee and the thesis writer should commit to a date for the defense, which is open to the public. Defenses need to be scheduled by April 1 and completed by April 14. Please schedule your defense for one hour and submit your this to the online defense scheduling form. Two weeks before the defense, thesis writers will furnish complete copies of the thesis to the project advisor and the two faculty readers.

Structure of the Distinguished Thesis Defense:

  1. The advisor of the thesis normally acts as convener of the defense, welcoming the student and readers, as well as other faculty members and students who have come.
  2. The defense begins with a 20 minute presentation of the student’s research. The student may also give a short account of how the project evolved and what he or she might have done differently.
  3. One of the readers begins by asking questions about the thesis, the methodology used, the conclusions drawn, etc.
  4. The second reader does the same.
  5. The student’s primary advisor for the thesis does the same.
  6. Other members of the audience are asked for their questions as time permits. (The defense should not last more than an hour.)
  7. At the end of the questioning and discussion, the audience is thanked for coming and dismissed, and the student is asked to wait outside while the committee evaluates the project. (However, if preferred, this meeting can be held later.)
  8. The advisor leads this discussion and takes notes on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the project. These notes should be used when the advisor writes up a short Thesis Evaluation.
  9. The panel decides the appropriate grade for the thesis. 
  10. The student is asked to join the panel members for a brief report of their reactions to the thesis and defense. The panel congratulates the student for having passed the defense. The advisor fills out the online evaluation form.