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Defense Exam Guidelines (for Committee Chairpersons)

In many respects, the thesis or dissertation Defense Examination is the culmination of a graduate student's career at The University of Vermont. The examination is an important event in that sustained student and faculty effort and critical thinking have gone into the research project, and in many cases the successfully defended thesis or dissertation will be published. Generally, the Defense Examination consists of two major parts:

  1. a brief presentation of the purpose(s), method(s) of study, analysis of observations, and synthesis of findings by the candidate, and
  2. a question and answer period involving all members of the examining committee.

In many graduate programs the first part of the Defense Examination is scheduled and announced as a public seminar to which all students and faculty, as well as guests, are invited. Following the seminar, the Chairperson of the Defense Examination Committee adjourns the first part of the defense (seminar) and the candidate continues to respond to questions from committee members. Most faculty members choose to attend the second part of the defense for only those students on whose committee they serve. However, any member of the Graduate Faculty may attend the second part of any defense. In consideration of the concerns of the candidate and the members of the Defense Examination Committee, a faculty member should inform the Chairperson of such intent prior to the defense. The Chairperson of the Examination Committee plays a very important role in the defense. Responsibilities include: