Section 10: PhD Dissertation Defense: Final Oral Examination Overview, Committee, and Process
The dissertation committee will consist of at least three graduate faculty members, including at least one core BME departmental faculty member, and will be chaired by the research advisor, who must have level-P graduate faculty status in BME. Soon after passing candidacy, students should obtain official approval of a dissertation committee by emailing a brief request, addressed to the BMEGSC, to the Graduate Studies Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. For most students, this simply will be the candidacy committee minus one member. These three BMEGSC-approved dissertation committee members plus one assigned Graduate School Representative comprise the final oral examination committee. Petitions to add external, non-voting members must be completed via gradforms.osu.edu. Students should be sure to work closely with members of their dissertation committee.
It is the student's responsibility, with the approval of the research advisor, to contact all examiners on the dissertation committee and schedule the final oral examination (also called the dissertation defense). Typically the student provides committee members with a dissertation draft when doing this. Students also must take a copy of their dissertation draft to the Graduate School for a required formatting review. When the date and time for the dissertation defense are arranged, students may schedule a room for a 2-hour block of time in BME or elsewhere on campus if it is more convenient for the committee. (Under normal circumstances, a teleconferenced exam would require a petition; due to COVID 19, all exams are currently required to be teleconferenced via Zoom so no petitions are needed unless for external members.)
The final oral examination committee will examine the student on the research project and dissertation in accordance with Graduate School regulations and must comply with the deadlines published by the Graduate School at the beginning of each term. The examination should not exceed two hours. Only examination committee members may be present during a BME PhD examination; however, students and faculty may attend presentations given before the exam begins. Students are welcome to advertise their presentations.
The graduate faculty representative is assigned by the Graduate School after the student files the Application for Final Oral Examination. This form is to be submitted by the student to the Graduate School via gradforms.osu.edu and approved by the advisor at least two full weeks before the date of the oral examination. Failure to meet this deadline will result in the rescheduling of the exam. The location (or indication of teleconferencing) and 2-hour time block must be listed. (Note that a copy of the dissertation must be sent to the assigned graduate faculty representative at least one full week before the defense, if not longer.) This application generates a link to the Final Oral Examination Report form, which is sent to the osu.edu email addresses of the final oral examination committee. The committee’s decision is recorded by each committee member via gradforms.osu.edu.
The student is considered to have completed the final oral examination successfully only when the decision of the final oral examination committee is unanimously affirmative. A student must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours during the term in which the final oral exam is held. For information on teleconferencing the doctoral defense in the event that a committee member may need to participate while off-site or petitioning to include an extra or non-voting, non-OSU committee member, please see gradforms.osu.edu. For policies governing the Final Oral Examination rules see the GSH.
10.2 Dissertation Guidelines
The dissertation should be an original research project that makes a new contribution to the field. Proposals and protocols should be approved by the student’s advisor(s) prior to beginning research. The dissertation must be completed in accordance with Graduate School policies and must comply with the deadlines published by the Graduate School at the beginning of each term. Students may reach out to their lab mates, peers from BMEGSA and/or student mentors for advice on completing the thesis. For Dissertation formatting and submission procedures, see the Graduate School website.
Students are encouraged to read the Graduate School Newsletter for leads on Graduate School and Writing Center workshops on dissertation writing or to schedule a review at the Graduate School (Graduation Services area) to learn about formatting and electronic document submission. Detailed information on the required format may be found here.
If a student fails to submit the final copy of the dissertation document to the Graduate School within five years of being admitted to candidacy, their candidacy is cancelled. In such a case, with the approval of the advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee, the student may request to take a supplemental candidacy examination. If the student passes this supplemental candidacy examination, the student is readmitted to candidacy and must then complete a dissertation or
D.M.A. document within two years. See GSH. Students who do not complete the requirements above within the timeframe may be dismissed from the program.
FINAL ORAL EXAMINATION PLANNING: A SAMPLE TIMELINE
Results for the Defense (Final Oral Examination) and Dissertation must be reported by the Dissertation Committee by Graduate School deadlines. Exam dates should be chosen to meet the deadlines.
- Application to Graduate: Department Deadline - first day of the intended semester; Graduate School deadline - 3rd Friday of the semester of graduation
- Application for Final Oral Exam: File 3-4 weeks ahead of time to ensure meeting Graduate School deadline of at least 2 full weeks before the actual defense
- Dissertation Formatting check at Graduate School: as early as possible, aligned with the Application for Final Oral Examination
- Send copy of dissertation to Graduate Faculty Representative as soon as one is assigned, no less than one full week before the defense
AFTER THE DEFENSE:
- Make sure your Dissertation Committee completes the Exam Report by posted deadline
- Revise and submit approved Dissertation by posted deadline via Ohiolink
- Make sure your Dissertation Committee completes the Dissertation Approval by posted deadline
10.3 Required Seminar Presentation & Publication Submissions
PhD students are expected to present an open seminar on their dissertation as part of the BME seminar series. To avoid delays in graduation, this should be done at least one or two semesters before graduation is anticipated. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the seminar faculty coordinator to get scheduled before all spaces are filled. In the event that there is a conflict, students may advertise the presentation portion of their dissertation defense to be counted as a seminar presentation, making sure to notify the BMEGSC via email to the graduate studies coordinator. As detailed in the curriculum requirements, PhD students also are expected to have submitted two manuscripts for publication and to have made one oral or poster presentation at a scientific meeting in order to graduate. This information is to be emailed to the graduate studies coordinator when applying to graduate.
10.4 Graduation for PhD Students
In order to graduate with a Doctoral (PhD) degree students must meet all requirements established by the department and the Graduate School. An Application to Graduate must be filed on gradforms.osu.edu no later than the first day of the term in which a student intends to graduate to allow time for a BME graduation audit and approval by the Advisor and Graduate Studies Committee Chair. Graduating students must be enrolled for at least 3 credit hours in the term of graduation. The Graduate School’s graduation checklist for PhD students in their final term of enrollment can be found here. If requirements go unmet or exam or thesis deadlines are missed, students may be able to meet the Graduate School’s end-of-semester deadlines without having to register the following term. If the E-O-S deadlines are missed, it will be necessary to resubmit a new Application to Graduate the following term.
DEGREE COMPLETION REMINDERS FOR PhD
- Students & advisors may jointly petition the BMEGSC for waivers of program or committee requirements. These should be accompanied by a proposed or approved program of study whenever possible.
- Petitions should be submitted in the form of a brief letter addressed to the BMEGSC and sent to email@example.com and will be considered at convened monthly BMEGSC meetings. Last-minute petitions may not be reviewed.
- Changes to an approved Program or Committee must be reviewed by the BMEGSC at least one full semester before an Application to Graduate is filed.
- Applications to Graduate will not be approved unless the student’s final BMEGSC-approved Program and Committees are on file in the Graduate Office and most other graduation requirements, as stated in the GSH and BMEH, are met.
- Applications to Graduate should be submitted via gradforms.osu.edu at least one full week in advance of the Graduate School deadline. No forms will be signed by the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee until a graduation audit has been completed by the BME graduate studies office.
- Be sure to build in time for a Graduate School review of the formatting of your dissertation draft.
- Be sure to build in time for any gradforms.osu.edu committee member petitions.
- Review your advising report each semester and contact your faculty about missing/outstanding grades.
- Publication and presentation lists should be emailed to the Graduate Studies Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of the semester in which you plan to graduate.
- Complete the BME assessment graduation survey. (Contact the graduate studies coordinator for the link at email@example.com.)