your dissertation & defense

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

  • Check the deadlines for each the semester you would like to graduate.

  • Review the graduation checklist and the list of forms to make sure you have submitted all paperwork to the BISI office. Though the checklist is not exhaustive, it is very helpful in planning out the process.

  • 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. 


The Semester You Defend

  • Ensure you are registered before the first day of classes.

  • Apply for Graduation on Testudo

  • If you want to defend in Spring and plan to graduate in either Spring or Summer you need to apply for Spring graduation.

  • The application for graduation rolls over to subsequent semesters if needed.

  • 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

  • Your approved committee will roll over to subsequent semesters if you do not graduate.

  • 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 your seminar as part of an existing seminar series.

  • 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.



the breakdown

Here is a overview of what students can generally expect from the dissertation and defense.


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.

  • 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 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.