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:
- a brief presentation of the purpose(s), method(s) of study, analysis of observations, and synthesis of findings by the candidate, and
- 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:
- Assuring the candidate has appropriate time for his or her presentation.
- Conducting the examination in a systematic fashion so that all committee members have an opportunity to raise questions and the candidate has sufficient time to respond.
- Charging the Examination Committee to vote on the acceptability of the thesis or dissertation including the defense performance of the candidate. According to Graduate College policies, if a candidate's Defense Examination performance is not satisfactory then only one reexamination is allowed.
- Making certain to obtain, and then ascertaining that the Defense Examination Record Form is completed and signed by all members of the Examination Committee including the candidate.
- Insuring that the signatures of endorsement are added to at least one Acid-free, 100% Cotton Fiber Acceptance Page of the thesis or dissertation.
- Making certain the candidate is fully informed of any editorial or typographical changes that must be made before submitting the final signed copies of the thesis or dissertation to the Graduate College Office.
- Securing Examination Committee agreement on any specific additions or changes to be made to the thesis or dissertation before the thesis or dissertation is accepted officially (signature endorsements) by the Committee.
- Establishing with the Committee and the candidate an agreed upon deadline date for the completion of the above changes by the degree candidate. This information may be added to the "Comments" section of the Defense Examination Record Form.
- Returning the Defense Examination Record Form, any Change of Grade Forms, and memos regarding the successful completion of Comprehensive or Language Examinations to the Graduate Colleqe Dean's Office within 3 days of the defense.