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Ph.D. Dissertation

The ability to do independent research must be demonstrated by an original dissertation on a topic approved by the graduate program in which the student is earning the degree.

Dissertation Examining Committee

It is recommended that the members of the Proposal Examination Committee also serve on the Dissertation Examining Committee, which must include a minimum of five members of the Graduate Faculty at the University of Maryland.

The Chair of the dissertation committee is the student's advisor, who must be a Full Member of the Graduate Faculty, or who has been granted an exception to the policy by the Dean of the Graduate School. In some cases, a co-chair is named.  Each committee also has appointed to it a Dean’s Representative, who must be a tenured member of the Graduate Faculty. External scholars or affiliate faculty may also serve on the dissertation committee.

For more information on dissertation committee membership, see Graduate School policy on doctoral degrees.

The student and advisor must complete a Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee form (PDF) no later than six weeks prior to the dissertation defense.  The nomination of committee form should be submitted the BIOE Graduate Office for the Graduate Director’s signature. Once approved, the BIOE Graduate Office forwards the form to the Office of the Registrar.

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the date and time of the examination with the committee members. The members must receive the complete dissertation at least ten working days before the scheduled examination.  The committee may require the dissertation more than ten working days in advance of the examination.

The student must also submit a defense announcement to the BIOE Graduate Office at least five business days before the defense for distribution to the department.  Announcements must include the following: candidate’s name, date, time, and location of the defense, dissertation title, committee members’ names, and abstract. Oral defenses must be attended by all members of the student's approved Dissertation Examining Committee. Should an emergency substitution on the committee be required, the change must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School in consultation with the Graduate Director and the Chair/Advisor.

Dissertation Examination Procedure

The dissertation examination consists of two parts: the public presentation and a formal examination.

Part 1: Public Presentation

The public presentation by the candidate covers the main aspects of the research reported in the dissertation.  During Part 1, questions from the audience to the candidate are permitted.  For questions from persons who are not members of the Dissertation Examining Committee, the Chair of the Dissertation Examining Committee has discretion to decide whether such questions are germane to the topic of the dissertation and how much time can be allotted for the answers.

Part 2: Formal Examination

The formal examination is open only to the Dissertation Examination Committee, other members of the Graduate Faculty, and graduate students from the candidate's graduate program. During Part 2, only members of the Dissertation Examination Committee are permitted to ask questions. Also during Part 2, the student presents, with the advisor’s approval, publication goals met for graduation and lists them on the evaluation report, including the number and specific content of archival journal manuscripts to be produced from the dissertation.

For more information on dissertation and doctoral degree policies, see the Graduate Catalog.