Thesis/Dissertation Defense Checklist

Review Graduation Deadlines.

Submit your most recent degree audit worksheet from Degree Works  at least three weeks prior to defense unless, already on file with the Graduate School.

Graduate School Clearance

The Graduate School will confirm that all Syracuse University Graduate School and departmental rules have been followed (i.e. time limits, number of credits, GPA’s etc.) and all degree requirements have been met before the notice of your defense is sent out. The following documents must be on file and approved by the Graduate School for a student to be cleared for their defense:

  1. Degree Audit Worksheet – a signed PDF of your most recent degree audit worksheet, using the student view format. Your advisor must sign and date the top of the PDF and the signed degree audit worksheet is submitted to
  2. Program of Study: if the degree audit worksheet is unavailable, submit your final Program of Study with appropriate signatures to
  3. Transcripts: Documentation for all degree applicable post–secondary coursework. This includes your undergraduate transcript and courses being used for transfer credit. Official degree–bearing transcripts are required for all prior degree applicable degrees received. Please check with your program coordinator to confirm your transcripts are recorded (in MySlice).
  4. Coursework: All coursework must be registered for and grades posted before the defense takes place. Exception: Master’s students with final semester coursework currently in progress.
  5. Additional Degree Requirements: The Graduate School will confirm that all other requirements for your degree have been completed and all required supporting documentation has been properly filed. This includes the results of your qualifying exam(s) and ABD requirements (if applicable).

File a Diploma Request

Graduating students must notify the University that they intend to graduate through the File Diploma Request process on MySlice. Only students who complete this process are included in degree certification review.

Consult your Advisor

Consult your thesis/dissertation advisor to begin preparation for your defense. Be sure that you are aware of all departmental procedures and regulations that pertain to your thesis/dissertation and oral examination.

Form your Defense Committee

  • Master’s students (and Doctoral of Professional Studies)
    Your defense committee consists of four voting members (including your advisor and oral defense chair). The chair of the oral examination is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Syracuse University who presides over the exam and ensures that the regulations and declared policies of the Graduate School and your department are followed.
  • Doctoral students (excluding Doctoral of Professional Studies)
    Your defense committee consists of six voting members (including your advisor and oral defense chair who must be outside of your home department). The chair of the oral examination is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Syracuse University, who presides over the exam and ensures that the regulations and declared policies of the Graduate School and your department are followed. Other committee members should be tenured or tenure-track Syracuse University faculty members. One external member can be included, based on subject-matter expertise; however, this committee member cannot be a personal acquaintance.  You must petition to include more than one external committee member.

Submit a Request for Exam

A Request for Examination form must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the proposed defense date. The Request for Examination (RFE) form is submitted electronically. Once you have successfully submitted this form you will receive a confirmation email with a PDF document of your RFE form. The PDF must be signed by your advisor and academic unit chair. The signed RFE form must be submitted to the Graduate School electronically to Your request will not be processed until the signed form is received. The signed form provides formal notification to the Graduate School that your department supports your request to proceed with your defense.


We would like all students to defend their thesis or dissertation in-person but we understand that this might not be possible.  We will continue to accept request for remote defenses through August 26, 2022.

Students must email their request to their advisor for approval. The email must clearly articulate a plan for successful web-based hosting.  The email must include the platform that the student is using, who will host the defense and the link (and password).  The advisor must forward the approved request to

Please email for examples of a request for a remote defense.

Formal Defense Notification

Once a student is cleared to defend their thesis/dissertation, the Graduate School will send email confirmation to all committee members that the defense will proceed as requested. The email will include a committee approval page that lists the members of your oral examination as an attachment. This document is sent to the oral chair of your examination for signatures at the conclusion of your defense. Doctoral defenses notices are posted on the Syracuse University Events Calendar.

Distribute your Thesis/Dissertation

You must submit copies of your thesis/dissertation in the appropriate form to all members of the examination committee, including your advisor and the chair of the oral examination, at least two full weeks before the scheduled date of the examination. This deadline is strictly enforced. Your defense may be canceled if all committee members do not have a copy of your thesis/dissertation in time. It is required that an additional copy of the thesis/dissertation be deposited with your department two weeks before the defense. The department copy may be reviewed by anyone who wishes to attend the defense.

Hold Your Defense

Consult your advisor about planning for your final oral examination. For example, in many disciplines it is traditional for the candidate to prepare a 20-30 minute presentation on the research before questioning by the committee begins. Please check with your advisor about any defense requirements the department may have. Your defense will take place at the time, place and on the date requested. At the conclusion of your defense, you will be informed of the status of your defense and advised to proceed accordingly.