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Section 11: Final Doctoral Examination


The Final Doctoral Examination is a single examination consisting of three portions: a written dissertation, a research seminar, and an oral examination (the “thesis defense”).  All three portions of this examination are administered under the auspices of the NGP committee in conjunction with the Graduate School.


The Dissertation Committee may be the same as the Dissertation Advisory Committee that is established prior to candidacy, and will consist of the student’s advisor and at least three other graduate faculty members (see section 9).  Changes in the Dissertation Advisory Committee are allowed during the student’s tenure; however, changes are subject to approval of the NGP Director/Co-Director since they approved the original committee.


Responsibility for conducting and evaluating the Final Oral Examination rests with the student’s Final Oral Examination Committee.  This Committee will consist of all members of the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee plus a Graduate School Representative.  Additional Category P graduate faculty members may be added to the Committee, subject to the rules of the NGP.  The advisor serves as chair of the Committee.  The Final Oral Examination Committee is responsible for reading the thesis, attending the research seminar and conducting the oral examination.  The Graduate School Representative need not attend the research seminar.


The dissertation is a scholarly contribution to knowledge in the student’s area of specialized research. Throughout the process of dissertation research and writing, the student is expected to demonstrate a high level of knowledge and the capability to function as an independent scholar.   The dissertation must conform to the Graduate School format requirements as described in the Guidelines for Preparing and Submitting Theses, Dissertations, and D.M.A. Documents, available on the Graduate School website.  The student must submit the complete, typed dissertation draft to the Graduate School for format review at the time the Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination Form is submitted.


A dissertation abstract, containing the principal findings of the student’s research, must be submitted to the NGP Program Administrator no later than three weeks prior to the scheduled Final Oral Examination.  This abstract may be submitted to the NGP office as an E-mail attachment.


The student must submit a completed, typed dissertation draft to her/his Dissertation Committee for review not fewer than three weeks prior to the date of the Final Oral Examination.  Approval of the dissertation draft indicates that the members of the Dissertation Committee judge it to be of sufficient quality to warrant holding the Final Oral Examination.  Each Dissertation Committee member indicates approval of the dissertation draft by signing the Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination Form that must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than two weeks before the date of the Final Oral Examination*. These procedures are all the responsibility of the student.  Once the Dean of the Graduate School approves the Final Oral Examination Committee, the Final Oral Examination Report is sent to the advisor.

*Students must submit their committee member names to the program administrator two weeks prior to submitting their application to graduate form to the graduate school.  


Signing of the Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination Form means that the thesis is of sufficient quality to proceed with the Final Oral Examination but this does not mean that the thesis is acceptable for graduation.  Revisions to the Dissertation draft may be requested by the Dissertation Committee both before and after submission of the Draft Approval/Notification of Final Oral Examination Form, and also after the Final Oral Examination prior to final approval.


The Final Oral Examination will consist of a public research seminar and a private oral examination. The oral examination should take place at least one day prior to the research seminar, and not fewer than 16 days before graduation.* The oral examination tests originality, independence of thought, the ability to synthesize and interpret, and the quality of research presented.  The oral examination concerns principles and historic perspective as well as data and includes, but is not limited to, discussion of the dissertation.  The examiners often pursue lines of thought and argument from the data and concepts that have contributed to the research and to its critical evaluation by the student. Only the student and the Final Oral Examination Committee are permitted to attend the oral examination. The Final Oral Examination is administered by the Final Oral Examination Committee and chaired by the advisor.  It must take place during announced University business hours, Monday through Friday, and should be scheduled for a two hour block. The private defense is not required to have a presentation component, but students who choose to present a summary of their research should devote no more than 15 minutes to this presentation. The Oral Examination must last AT LEAST 1 hour, not including any presentation, but should NOT EXCEED two hours.  

The public research seminar will take the form of a full length research seminar, normally about 45 minutes in length, and will be open to all students and faculty of the NGP and any others that may wish to attend to celebrate the successful completion of the student's PhD.  The research seminar should be advertised to the entire NGP program at least three weeks in advance (see section 11.8.1 on advertising the seminar).  Time will be allotted after the research seminar for questions from the audience.  The Dissertation Committee may attend the research seminar and anyone in attendance may ask questions. The student must be registered for at least three credits during the semester or summer session in which the Final Oral Examination is administered and in the semester or summer session of graduation. 

*If you prefer another format, check with NGP administration for options that meet the Graduate School's criteria.  


Students must send to the Program Administrator the following items in order to advertise the research seminar:

  • Title of defense
  • Date, time, and location
  • Brief summary of where the student came from, what the student achieved during their tenure in the program, and what the student’s future plans are including specific details (i.e., post-doctoral advisor name and university).


Once the Final Oral Examination is scheduled, the Dean of the Graduate School appoints a Graduate School representative who will be a Category P member who holds no faculty status in NGP and is not a member of the Dissertation Committee.  Not less than one week before the Final Oral Examination, the student must provide the Graduate School Representative with a typed dissertation draft.  In addition to being a full voting member of the Final Oral Examination Committee, the Graduate School Representative reports her/his judgment on the quality of the examination, the dissertation, and the student’s performance to the Graduate School.

If the Graduate School representative judges the dissertation to be unsatisfactory, he or she will advise the student’s advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School of that fact no later than one day prior to the Final Oral Examination.  After consulting with the student and the members of the Dissertation Committee, the advisor may elect to hold the Final Oral Examination as scheduled or postpone it until the situation is resolved.

In cases where the Final Oral Examination is reviewed, the Graduate School representative reports to the Graduate Council on the fairness of the conduct of the examination and its conformity to Graduate School rules.


The Final Oral Examination must be held at the time and place scheduled unless circumstances prompt the advisor to postpone it.  Before taking such action, the advisor must consult the student and the members of the Dissertation Committee, including the Graduate School Representative, and inform the NGSP Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School.


All members of the Final Oral Examination Committee must be present during the entire examination and are expected to participate fully in questioning and discussion during the course of the examination and in the decision on results at the end of the examination.  No one else may be present during the Final Oral Examination.


Immediately after the Final Oral Examination, the Examining Committee will meet in closed session with the candidate absent to discuss her/his performance and determine the outcome.  A decision on satisfactory or unsatisfactory performance will be determined by vote.  Each examiner will indicate her/his judgment by signing the Final Oral Examination Report Form in the appropriate place.  This form is to be submitted by the advisor to the Graduate School with a copy to the NGP Program Administrator no later than the Wednesday two weeks prior to commencement.  Failure to meet this deadline will result in the student being removed from the graduation list.

  • Satisfactory: The student is considered to have completed the Final Oral Examination successfully when there is a unanimously affirmative vote by the Final Oral Examination Committee members.
  • Unsatisfactory: If one or more votes are negative, the student is considered to have performed unsatisfactorily. In such cases, the Committee must determine if a second Final Oral Examination will be permitted and so note on the Final Oral Examination Report Form.


If a second Final Oral Examination is held, the Dissertation Committee must be the same as for the first Final Oral Examination unless the Dean of the Graduate School approves a substitution in advance.  Like the first examination, the second examination is not open to persons other than the Final Oral Examination Committee.


No student is permitted to take the Final Oral Examination more than twice.  A student whose performance is recorded as unsatisfactory on two attempts at the Final Oral Examination is automatically dismissed from the Graduate School and is not eligible to use the Transfer of Graduate Program procedure to enroll in another doctoral program at The Ohio State University.

11.15 REVIEW

On written appeal by the student or a member of the Final Oral Examination Committee, the Dean of the Graduate School will ask the Graduate Council to review the Final Oral Examination to ensure that it was conducted in conformity with the rules of the NGP and the Graduate School, fairly and without prejudice to the student.  The Council has established review procedures that are available in the Graduate School.


The final approval of the dissertation cannot occur until the Final Oral Examination has been completed satisfactorily and all changes to the Dissertation required by the Final Oral Examination Committee have been incorporated.  Each member of the Dissertation Committee indicates approval by signing the Final Approval Form in the appropriate place.  This form must be submitted by the advisor to the Graduate School with a copy to the Program Administrator no later than one week before commencement.  The advisor must also sign the title page of the final copy of the dissertation.


Dissertations must not contain material restricted from publication.


The Graduate School requires that all doctoral dissertations be submitted electronically through the state’s library network, OhioLINK.  You must do this in order to be eligible to graduate.  This should be done after you have passed your Final Doctoral Examination and the Final Approval Form has been signed and submitted to the Graduate School.  For further information, consult the “Dissertations and Theses” section on the Graduate School web site at http://www.gradsch.osu.edu/.  From that link, you will be able to access information designed to help walk you through the submission process.  You are strongly encouraged to review these instructions before starting the submission process.  After you submit the document, the Graduate School will be notified by e-mail from OhioLINK that your document is ready for review.  The Graduate School will contact you by e-mail if any corrections are needed, or if your document has been accepted to meet graduation requirements.

The electronic submission of your dissertation or D.M.A. document is only one of the requirements that you will need to fulfill in order to be eligible for graduation.  Before the electronic submission of our document, you will need to bring to the Graduate School at 247 University Hall, a completed Doctoral Draft Approval Form, along with a paper copy of your dissertation at least two weeks prior to the date of the Final Oral Examination.  The paper copy will be reviewed at this time for formatting and returned to you.  The format check cannot be accomplished electronically (ref. VII.14 of the Graduate School Handbook).

11.19 FEES

Appropriate fees must be paid by the published deadline for the semester or summer session of graduation. Published deadlines can be found on the Graduate School website.


Any student planning to graduate must complete and submit the Application to Graduate form to the Graduate School not later than the third Friday of the semester (or third Friday of May for summer session commencement) in which graduation is expected.  The candidate is responsible for obtaining an Application to Graduate Form from the Graduate School.  The application is valid for that semester or summer session only. Submitting this application indicates that the student expects to complete all degree requirements by the end of that semester or session, including meeting all time deadlines. The student, her/his advisor, and the Director(s) of the NGSP must sign the application. The names of the members of the Dissertation Committee must be listed on the application.


A student who does not meet published graduation deadlines but who does complete all degree requirements by the last business day prior to the first day of classes for the following semester or summer session may graduate the following semester or summer session without registering or paying fees.


To qualify for graduation, NGP students must also:

  • have fulfilled all requirements of the Graduate School and the NGP as published in this Handbook and the Graduate School Handbook;
  • have final grades for all courses received in the Graduate School by the deadline identified by the Registrar’s Office


All NGP students upon graduation must submit a bound copy of their dissertation to the Program.  Students may choose where to have their dissertations printed but NGSP recommends using the Thesis on Demand website at www.thesisondemand.com.  Requirements for printing are:

  • Black cover
  • Gold lettering
  • 60lb white paper
  • Single-sided or Double-sided
  • Signed signature page is not required
  • Pockets or fold-outs are optional
  • Ship to the attention of the NGP Program Administrator at the NGP program office address

NGP prefers to have the title on the front cover and your name, degree, and year of graduation on the spine.  If you are unable to have it printed as preferred, then we will accept your name, title, year, and degree on the front with the year on the spine.  Before printing, check with the printer regarding these options.