Getting to Graduation...

You've Advanced to Candidacy! So now what?

Immediate changes: 

  • Advancements generally go into effect on the 1st of the month following your exam. If you do not receive a confirmation letter from the Graduate School please contact the BISI office.
  • The BISI office will confirm your advancement to candidacy with your payroll office and you will be increased to Step III. 
  • If you do not see a change reflected in your paycheck within a month of your official advancement contact the BISI office.
  • You will be registered for 6 credits of BISI 899 Doctoral Research every Fall and Spring semester by the Registrar's Office. You are responsible for confirming that they have done so before the first day of the semester.  
  • If there is a hold on your account for any reason during the month before the semester starts you need to resolve it and you must let the Registrar know after it is resolved so they can register you.
  • If you need to be registered earlier than the office normally does registrations please contact
  • The registration requirement cannot be waived without an official Leave of Absence.   
  • Summer registration is not required unless you plan to graduate that particular Summer semester.

Annual Meetings: 
You are expected to meet with your committee approximately once a year. You will need to schedule this with the BISI Office and pick up the meeting report form the same way you did with previous meetings.

The Defense must occur within 9 years of admission to the PhD. program or within 4 years of Advancement to Candidacy - whichever is longer. The Defense cannot occur less than 6 months after the Advancement to Candidacy. Some helpful checklists are available here and here, though they are not meant to be exhaustive, they are very helpful in planning out the process. 

The Semester Before You Want To Defend: 

  1. Review the Graduate School deadlines and policies.
  2. Make sure your committee agrees with your timeline.
  3. Tell the BISI office your plans.
  4. If you have off-campus committee members: Consult with the BISI Office to ensure that they are eligible to serve on your committee.
  5. If you plan to defend and graduate in Summer: Discuss this with the BISI office in April so you can be registered for 1 credit of BISI 899. 

The Semester You Defend:

  1. Ensure you are registered before the first day of classes.
  2. Apply for Graduation on Testudo at the start of the semester. Apply for the earliest potential semester you might graduate.
  3. If you want to defend in Spring 2015 and plan to graduate in either Spring or Summer you need to apply for Spring 2015 graduation.
  4. The application for graduation rolls over to subsequent semesters if needed.  
  5. Complete the Nomination of Dissertation Committee Form and submit it to the BISI Office along with the relevant research approvals Before the Graduate School deadline for the semester.  If you are defending early in the semester make sure you submit a minimum of 6 weeks before your defense, if that is earlier than the deadline. 
  6. Your approved committee will roll over to subsequent semesters if you do not graduate.
  7. Determine the date and time for your seminar and defense with your committee and the BISI Office which will assist in reserving your rooms. Try to schedule so you are part of an existing seminar series.
  8. During Fall & Spring semesters if you want to participate in the CMNS commencement you need to let the BISI office know before the middle of the semester. Contact the Bookstore about regalia and be sure to RSVP to CMNS that you will attend.
  9. Complete your Dissertation and Defense (see below) 
  10. Submit your dissertation. If you submit between the deadline for the semester you defended and the start of the next semester you need to check in with the BISI office to determine if a petition for waiver of continuous registration will be required.  

The Dissertation and Defense

All policies regarding your defense can be found on the Graduate School website, here.

The Dissertation

  • Formatting questions can be answered the Graduate School website.
  • Graduation deadlines can be found here. They are also listed on the BISI Shared Google calendar.
  • Your dissertation must be given to your committee a minimum of 10 business days before the defense.

The Seminar:

  • The Dissertation Colloquium must be held on the University of Maryland campus and be an open presentation. Students at Shady Grove should contact the BISI office to determine if their defense can be scheduled there or should be at College Park. 
  • The BISI Office will assist you in reserving a room for the seminar and defense.
  • Please send your title and abstract the the BISI Office ( 3 weeks before your colloquium.
  • The BISI Office will announce your colloquium to faculty, graduate students, and staff.

The Defense: 

  • Generally held immediately following the Colloquium.
  • Members of the Graduate Faculty may attend, although only your advisory committee may ask questions.
  • All paperwork is to be returned to the BISI Office following the defense. 

The Follow Up

  • All official paperwork should be brought to the BISI office.  
  • Once your revisions are complete and you are ready to submit your dissertation, your advisor can sign off on all paperwork.  The BISI Office will obtain the required signature from the Director and submit all relevant paperwork.
  • You are responsible for contacting your payroll person to let them know that you will be leaving and your official graduation date.
  • If you need official proof of degree completion before you receive your diploma you need to request the letter from the Registrar's office.
  • Provide the BISI Office with your personal email address and placement information before leaving campus.

Committee Nomination: See Choosing a Committee for information on Committee composition.

Special Members of the Graduate Faculty:
If you have external committee members you need to check with the BISI Office at least 2 months prior to your planned defense date. The office must confirm they are active as Special Members of the Graduate Faculty before the Nomination of Committee form can be submitted. (Adjunct appointments with a department do not guarantee this approval has been granted.) 


  • You should submit the Nomination of Committee Form based on the Graduate School deadlines for the semester during which you plan to defend.
  • The BISI Office will prepare your file with the relevant paperwork (Official exam report, Interim Exam Report, Electronic Publication Form). Be sure to pick up your file the day of your meeting and return everything the same day following the defense.