NB: All of the steps below can take place at any time during the year. However, if you are aiming to receive your degree at a specific degree conferral (October, February or May), you must follow a set of deadlines for that conferral. These deadlines are available online here. Please note also that these steps are intended to be a general guideline for the distribution, defense, and deposit, but it is your responsibility to review the more detailed policies, linked along the left side of this page.
Note for Teachers College Ph.D. students: Only steps 7 through 10 below apply to TC Ph.D. students. Please contact the TC Office of Doctoral Studies for more information about the procedures leading up to the dissertation defense.
1. Get in touch with your department or program's office. Your program's Graduate Coordinator or ADA should be your first stop when preparing to distribute and defend. They are knowledgeable about GSAS policies, and can advise you on any program requirements that go beyond GSAS rules.
2. Declare your intent to distribute and defend. Every Ph.D. student must submit the Intent to Distribute and Defend form. This form tells us that you understand all the policies and procedures regarding the dissertation defense, and allows us to ensure you are registered correctly, and that we send you information in early April about Convocation and Commencement. Every student who is planning to distribute and defend must submit this form directly to GSAS. The form can be downloaded here.
3. Discuss with your sponsor (advisor) to determine your five-person examining committee. Guidelines for the nomination and appointment of the defense committee are available here. Any questions about committee composition should be directed either to your Chair, DGS, ADA, or to the Dissertation Office. Please note that GSAS policy states that students should NOT be put in the position of approaching faculty members about serving on their committee. This is the responsibility of the sponsor and/or department.
4. Your department or program (not the student!) submits the five names of your proposed committee to GSAS for approval. The Application for Dissertation Defense form is signed by your department or program's Chair or Director of Graduate Studies, and is submitted by your program's office to the GSAS Dissertation Office. The form is available online here.
5. Your department or program (not the student!) schedules the defense.
6. Distribute final copies of your dissertation to your five examiners after your committee is approved. You must be registered for the semester in which your distribution takes place. This is your final semester of registration, even if your defense and deposit take place in a subsequent semester. Click here for more detailed information about final registration requirements. International students with questions about their registration and remaining in visa compliance should contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).
7. Defend your dissertation. Please remember that during the actual examination, there should be no one present other than the five examiners and the doctoral candidate.
8. Complete any required revisions. Students who receive a vote of "pass with minor revisions" are given a maximum of six months to complete these revisions and deposit their dissertation. For more detailed information, please consult this page.
9. Obtain approval to deposit your dissertation. This is done using the Approval Card, given to you upon passing your defense. After your revisions are approved, the card must be signed by your sponsor, as well as your department Chair or program Director. These signatures allow you to deposit your dissertation.
10. Deposit your dissertation with GSAS. This is the final step to earning the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree. Complete information regarding the deposit is available through the Deposit Gateway. You should also review the FAQ about the electronic deposit system.