Thesis Defense Guidelines

Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine Thesis Committee update form.

Click here to download the Thesis Committee update form.

The graduate Thesis is the all-encompassing document describing original research carried out by the graduate student. The historical background, the scientific context of the experiments, and the data are presented and discussed extensively in the Dissertation. It is expected that the research carried out to generate the Thesis Dissertation will also result in published papers in recognized scientific journals, for which the student is the first author. It is not unusual for the Thesis Dissertation research to comprise two to three publications in which the student is the leading author. Each thesis should indicate which publications (if any) are represented by the described work. At least one first-author manuscript must be submitted for publication before a student may defend the Thesis. If a manuscript is not yet accepted for publication, a submitted draft must be appended to the Thesis, even if this draft ultimately requires additional experimental results. The manuscript should be written in the style of a specific (indicated) journal. A co-first authorship paper meets the requirement. All collaborative work that contributes to the Thesis Dissertation must be clearly indicated in the text.

Eight Months Prior to the Thesis Defense

Students expecting to complete their thesis and graduate during a given academic year must initiate a Thesis Committee meeting approximately 8 months prior to the planned date for the formal thesis defense. The Thesis Committee must agree that the student is ready to defend.

For Students Planning to Participate in the Commencement Ceremony

Students planning to graduate (and receive their diploma) in May must schedule their thesis defense to take place before April 1st. Note: Each student must have at least one first author manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal before graduation. In order to participate in the Commencement Ceremony and receive a diploma, all academic requirements must be fulfilled and communicated to the Dean or Associate Dean on or before April 29th. This includes completion of all coursework, successful defense of the thesis (Conditional Pass is not sufficient), completion of all revisions, and deposit of three copies of the Thesis in the Dean’s Office. The only exception to this deadline will be for international students on terminal leave who return to the United States for their combined defense and graduation. This exception requires prior approval of the Dean and the Dissertation Committee, and requires submission of the Thesis to the committee for review prior to April 1st.

Submission of the Thesis

Presentation of the Thesis to the Committee: The Thesis must be presented to all members of the Thesis Defense Committee at least three weeks before the scheduled defense. A member of the Thesis Committee may require a postponement of the Thesis Defense if this requirement is not met. Within one week after the Thesis is delivered (two weeks prior to the defense) any Committee member may request a pre-defense meeting of the Committee if, in the opinion of the Committee member, the Dissertation is not defensible. If this occurs, the Committee may elect to cancel the defense.

Thesis copies: No diploma will be granted until three copies of the final Thesis, printed on good quality paper in final form and bound, are submitted by the student. Copies of the Thesis will be distributed as follows: a bound copy to the student’s advisor; a bound copy to the office of the Dean; a bound copy to the student. Bound or unbound copies may be provided to the thesis committee members by the student.

Completion of all requirements: All corrected copies of the Thesis and any additional paperwork must be submitted within 3 months after passing the Thesis Defense. Permission to remain in the program beyond three months requires written approval from the Associate Dean. In the absence of such approval, the student may be placed on unpaid Academic Leave.

Granting of the PhD degree: All academic requirements must be fulfilled and communicated to the Associate Dean. This includes completion of all coursework and other requirements, successful defense of the thesis (Conditional Pass is not sufficient), completion of all revisions, deposit of three copies of the Thesis with the Dean’s office, and completion of any other required paperwork. Certification of receipt of the PhD degree and awarding of the diploma may be made by the Associate Dean at any time thereafter during the year, and formal award of the degree will be made at the subsequent regular commencement exercises conducted at the end of May.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Medicine (HEGIS code 0499.00) is granted to the successful PhD candidate following completion of the academic requirements, presentation of the thesis research in a public lecture, satisfactory thesis defense by formal oral examination before the Thesis Committee including submission and acceptance of a (final bound copy) of the complete dissertation. It is the policy of the Graduate School of Molecular Medicine to withhold diplomas until all requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy have been satisfactorily fulfilled and accepted by all members of the candidate’s respective Thesis Committee and the Dean.

Change in status after successful Thesis Defense: Occasionally students who have successfully defended the thesis may elect to delay final submission of documents for a short period of time as they complete arrangements to move on. Students may remain as “active students” for a maximum of three months after the defense. This requires formal notification of the Associate Dean. If all paperwork and corrected Thesis copies have not been submitted at the end of this period, students may be placed on unpaid Academic Leave of Absence until such requirements have been fulfilled. Note that students on an F1 or J1 visa are not eligible for an Academic Leave of Absence. All requirements must be fulfilled within one year of the Thesis Defense.

A student, who has successfully defended the thesis and completed all requirements for the PhD, will no longer be an “active student.” If the student is to remain at the Feinstein, the student’s status must be changed to that of “Postdoctoral Fellow.”

Change in status for international students: International students who have been studying at the Institution on an F1 or J1 visa and intend to remain in the U.S. for further training must consult the Dean’s Office for immigration advice well in advance of any anticipated change in status