The final examination includes a defense of the dissertation and may be as comprehensive in the major and minor areas as the advisory committee chooses to make it.
It is conducted by an expanded advisory committee chaired by the director of graduate studies (DGS) or someone designated by the DGS. The dean of The Graduate School and president of the university are ex officio members of all final examination committees. The examination is a public event and its scheduling is published and announced beforehand. Any member of the university community may attend. At least four weeks prior to the final examination, following notification by the major professor that the dissertation has been distributed to members of the advisory committee, the DGS will advise The Graduate School of the intent to examine. At this time, the dean of The Graduate School appoints an outside examiner as a core member of the advisory committee. The specific time and date of the examination must be designated by The Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the actual examination.
All members of the committee except the outside examiner have had an opportunity to suggest revisions prior to signing the Dissertation Approval Form. Thus, most revisions should have been completed at an earlier time. The final examination must take place no later than eight days prior to the last day of classes of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The Dissertation Approval Form, along with a printed copy of the dissertation, must be presented to The Graduate School at the time the final examination is established. The draft of the dissertation submitted must be complete in content including all footnotes, tables, figures and appendices. A full bibliography or set of references must be included, as must a title page and abstract. In all decisions, the majority opinion of the graduate faculty members of the advisory committee prevails.
If the advisory committee is evenly divided, the candidate fails. In the event of failure, the advisory committee recommends to the dean of The Graduate School conditions under which the candidate may be reexamined, if reexamination is deemed appropriate. When those conditions have been met, the candidate may be reexamined. Should any vacancies on the committee occur between the two examinations, the dean of The Graduate School shall appoint replacements. A third examination is not permitted. After the final examination is passed, the final copy of the dissertation is prepared.
Final copies are then submitted to The Graduate School along with the signatures of the major professor and the DGS. The dissertation in its final form must be received by The Graduate School office within 60 days of the final examination. If this deadline is not met, the candidate must undergo a second examination.