The Catholic University of America

Preparing the Doctoral Defense

Responsibilities of the Dissertation Director

After the Director and the two Readers on the student’s Doctoral Committee agree that the student’s thesis is ready for defense, the Director contacts the Assistant to the Graduate Director to prepare the “Accept for Defense” paperwork to be signed by the Director and Readers of the Dissertation.  As soon as possible, the Director schedules a date and time for the defense with the Assistant to the Graduate Director, who will reserve the Defense Room; the Director also arranges for two CUA faculty members from outside of the STRS to serve on the committee as Chair and Secretary.  The Chair must have achieved the rank of Ordinary Professor; the Secretary must have achieved the rank of Associate Professor.  The director gives this information to the AD/AADA, who will then prepare the remaining defense paperwork. 

Responsibilities of the Student

The student must be registered for ORAL 998 found on Cardinal Station and TRS 997 (Doctoral Thesis Guidance) for the semester of their defense.

The student provides the information for the doctoral dissertation leaflet which will be used to publicize the defense. This includes: thesis title and abstract, summary of coursework, biographical information, and names of the Doctoral Board members (see the Assistant to the Graduate Director for a sample dissertation leaflet). The title of the thesis needs to be exactly the same title of the proposed thesis that was originally presented in the doctoral proposal.  Then, if the student wishes, he/she may make a written or e-mail request to the STRS Dean to invite up to five guests to the oral exam, listing the guests’ names. Only guests with the prior approval of the STRS Dean may be present.

Prior to deposit of the thesis, the student must obtain the signatures of the Director and Readers on the signature page confirming that the thesis is complete and all required changes and/or corrections have been incorporated; and the student must also obtain the STRS Dean’s signature on a “Permission to Publish” form available from the Coordinator of Graduate Student Services. Candidates are encouraged to have the form and signature page with them on the day of the defense to facilitate the securing of all necessary signatures.

Responsibilities of the Assistant to the Dean for Graduate Programs and Alumni Communications

Once the Doctoral Board is secured, at least two to three weeks prior to the defense, the Assistant to the Graduate Director prepares the Oral Examination Request Form, secures the STRS Dean’s signature, sends it to the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and places it in the student’s file after the Vice Provost’s signature is secured. Once the oral exam has been approved, the Assistant to the Graduate Director also prepares the Confidential Report of the Secretary of the Board on Oral Examination form and the Doctoral Defense Card for the day of the defense, as well as prepares and posts the dissertation leaflet on the STRS bulletin board at least one week before the oral exam. Twenty-five copies are made, and copies are put in the student’s file and in the dissertation leaflet file and are given to the Doctoral Committee, the Doctoral Board, the Dean, with the rest given to the student. The Doctoral Defense Card will need the Dean’s prior signature if the Dean will not be present at the defense, but all other signatures are secured on this form and card immediately after the successful defense, at which time the card is given to the student and the form is sent with a dissertation leaflet to the Vice Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies Office for the student’s permanent record.

Deposit of the Thesis

Following a successful defense, the student then contacts the Coordinator of Graduate Student Services in the Office of the Vice Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies to arrange for a deposit date for the thesis.  At the time of deposit, the Coordinator will review the manuscript for adherence to university guidelines and will check the deposit deadline.  If all is in order, the Coordinator will issue to the student a receipt for deposit of the manuscript and payment of the requisite fees. Copies of this receipt will be forwarded to the STRS Dean. The date of the deposit is the official date that the student has satisfied all of the requirements for the degree. This deposit date must be before the deadline published in the Registrar’s Class Schedule for either the October, January, or May graduation date in order to graduate in October, January, or May of the academic year in which the requirements are completed.

Dissertation Photocopies

There is a U.S. service that provides dissertation photocopies at UMI Dissertation Publishing, which you must pay for on-line with a credit card, or with by mail with a certified check. S.T.D. students are required to forward a copy of their dissertation for registration in the Roman archives, but the fee for this registration and mailing may be obtained from the Vice Provost & Dean of Graduate Studies Office.