Department of Mathematics
Duke University : Graduate School : Dept of Math : Math Graduate program
Thesis, Final Defense, and Graduation

Thesis, Final defense, and Graduation

The recent reorganization of the graduate school web page has damaged many of the links here. Until this gets fixed, visit their pages to find the information you need.

The Duke Graduate School has rigid rules regarding the thesis, final defense and graduation.
These are best understood described in reverse chronological order, starting from the successful conclusion of graduate school:

  1. The Ph.D. degree is officially conferred at one of only three official graduation dates:
    • May (after the spring semester)
    • September (after the summer semester)
    • December (after the fall semester)
  2. The final version of the dissertation (approved by the defense committee, with all corrected completed within thirty days of the final defense or by the submission deadline date [whichever comes first]) must be turned in by the Graduate Degree deadline dates for the desired degree conferral dates. The final defense should be scheduled at least one week before the deadline date.
  3. Some revisions of the thesis are often requested at the defense.
  4. Upon completion of the defense and approval of the thesis, some paperwork must be completed:
    • Committee members must sign thesis title and abstract pages
    • Committee members must sign an exam card

      Please bring these to the DGS-Assistant to have a Dept copy made, and afterward take these to the Graduate School building (on Campus Drive). DO NOT put these in the campus mail!; they can get lost and will need to be re-done, walk them over yourself!

    The DGS must also sign the exam card, before doing that the DGS will want:
  5. AT LEAST SEVEN DAYS before the defense, the following must be completed:
    • Copies of the most up-to-date version of the dissertation MUST BE given to all committee members for them to read. (AT LEAST 7 days ahead of the defense ... some committee members might request more time)
    • A public copy of thesis is put in the department lounge.
  6. AT LEAST TWO WEEKS before the defense (earlier if close to the degree deadlines), the most up-to-date version of thesis must be submitted for the "initial electronic dissertation submission" (format check).
    This must be done before scheduling an appointment to pick up the final examination paperwork!
    • See the Grad School webpage on Electronic submit of theses and Guide for electronic submission (PDF)
    • Your advisor must send a brief email to the Graduate School indicating their approval of the readiness of the thesis for defense. The message should state that:
      "I have read the [thesis/dissertation] of ________________________________ and it is complete and ready to defend."
      Send to Krista Moyle,
    • The initial submission for the format check is NOT the finalized version; it is understood that some changes/additions may still be happening, but this version at least has the overall structure and most of the contents to be put in the thesis.
    • DGS signs approval on the public announcement of the final defense (date/time/room, committee members, thesis title) and the Graduate School approves the defense.
  7. Select a date for the thesis defense with the professors on your committee. At most one committee member (not the chair) may be tele-conferenced, everyone else must be physically present. See the DGS-Assistant to reserve a room for the exam and have an official public announcement of the exam posted and sent to the Graduate School.
  8. Students must file an Apply for Graduation Form for the graduate school in the ACES system.
    • no later than January 25 for a May degree,
    • no later than July 1 for a September degree,
    • no later than November 1 for a December degree,
    • no later than one month prior to defense, and
    • no earlier than the beginning of the semester in which they will defend their thesis.
    If the defense is delayed, this form must be re-submitted!
  9. The default committee for the thesis defense is the committee from the preliminary exam.
    Any requests for changes to the committee MUST BE APPROVED by the Graduate School based on a committee approval form to be filed by the DGS AT LEAST 60 DAYS BEFORE THE DEFENSE
  10. Students must be registered for the semester during which their defense will take place: fall, spring, or summer-full.
  11. Students must have completed all of the Graduate School's Ph.D. Requirements before the Ph.D. degree can be awarded. Most major among these are:
    • The process connected with the final thesis defense.
    • Passing the Prelim exam
    • RCR: 12 credit hours on Responsible Conduct of Research
    • EIS: English for International Students (as appropriate)
YOU are responsible for planning ahead (with appropriate timing) for all of these steps.

Important links

For further information or other questions, contact the DGS!

Duke University : Graduate School : Dept of Math : Math Graduate program