Suggested Guidelines for the Final Oral Examination
The following are some guidelines for the final oral examination. Dissertation refers to both thesis and dissertation.
Scheduling and Announcement
The final oral examination, usually over the general field of the dissertation, is required of all candidates for doctoral and master’s thesis-option degrees. It should be scheduled at least four months after the student has been admitted to candidacy and a suitable time after the dissertation (not necessarily the final version) has been read by the advisory committee. All committee members should have copies of the dissertation at least 2 weeks prior to the defense (some programs may require earlier distribution). The examination is a formal public affair. Therefore, it should be held during weekday business hours when classes are in session and not during break periods. (A defense may begin as late as 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon.) The examination should be held in a HSC room conducive to attendance by faculty members and students.
Doctoral Students Only- At least three weeks before the date of the examination, the candidate should submit the signed notification form and the defense abstract to the Dissertation Coordinator at TTU. The Graduate School should be notified as soon as possible when it becomes necessary for a doctoral examination to be postponed.
Graduate Dean's Representative
The Graduate Dean’s representative is a member of the Graduate Faculty appointed by the Graduate School (TTU for dissertations and GSBS for theses) primarily to observe and report (if necessary) on the conduct of the final examination. The representative shall have access to the thesis/dissertation and may participate in questioning the candidate. The student must provide a copy of the dissertation to the Dean’s representative at least a week before the defense. The Dean's representative also must sign the Oral Defense Signature Form after the defense is complete.
Conduct of the Examination
The chairperson of the advisory committee should convene the examination by introducing the candidate, giving his or her background, and indicating the general format of the proceedings to follow, although there may be variations from department to department. Initially, the candidate should give an overview of his or her study for the benefit of those in attendance who have not read the dissertation (15 to 30 minutes). After this, under the guidance of the chairperson, the candidate may be questioned by members of his or her committee, the representative, and other audience members. As indicated earlier, the examination is a public affair and the candidate should be prepared to defend his or her work before anyone who may question it. A copy of the dissertation (not necessarily in final form) should be available for reference during the examination.
When ample opportunity has been given for this discussion, those not on the doctoral committee should be excused while the committee and the representative ask further, possibly more detailed, questions regarding both the dissertation and its research procedures. The candidate should be dismissed from the room while the committee comes to a decision concerning the results of the examination. When the decision is made, the Thesis or Dissertation Oral Defense Signature Form should be signed by the committee members to record votes. The chairperson should then inform the candidate of the outcome. The signature page is sent to the Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, TTUHSC, who will forward it to the Thesis/Dissertation Coordinator, Graduate School TTU. NOTE: A Dissertation Approval/Disapproval Signature form signed by the committee members upon completion of the dissertation must be sent to the Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences also.
All members of the dissertation committee must approve and sign the document, either approving or disapproving, before it is submitted to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Office. More than one vote for disapproval shall constitute failure of the examination.