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Ph.D. Dissertation and Final Examination

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, Exam, and Filing Instructions

Dissertation Defense and Examination (Ph.D.)

The dissertation and defense are the culminating projects of the Ph.D. degree. The student is encouraged to discuss with members of the degree committee both the substance and the preparation of the dissertation well in advance of the planned date of dissertation defense and final examination.

The Ph.D. final defense and examination consists of an open seminar on the dissertation work followed by a closed examination by the degree committee.  During the examination, the student is expected to explain the significance of the dissertation research, justify the methods employed, and defend the conclusions reached. 

The defense consists of an open seminar by the candidate followed by questions from the audience (approximately 1 hour). The open session is followed by a closed session of the candidate and degree committee members (examination portion). The entire defense and exam may not be longer than three hours.

At the conclusion of the exam, the committee shall vote on whether both the written dissertation and the student's performance are satisfactory to earn a Ph.D. degree from the University of California.

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, Exam and Filing Procedure

  1. Review Graduate Division Checklists
    1. Please visit for Ph.D./M.S. Degree Application Forms and Guidelines.
    2. Complete the Graduate Student Graduation Application during appropriate filing period (Fall: February 16-September 15; Spring: September 16th-February 15; Summer: September 16-June 15).  The application is available on the student portal under “MyStudentRecord.” No signatures are required.
  2. Set Date with Faculty Committee Members
    1. A defendable copy of your dissertation should be sent to your committee members at least three weeks in advance of their defense date.
  3. Reserve a Room
    1. To reserve a conference room or meeting space, please go to
    2. Click on EMS Room Reservation System Icon (conference table) on the right-hand side of the webpage to complete the room reservation process
    3. For a how to guide on reservaing a room, see EMS Room Reservation Instructions. For additional FAQ's, vist:
  4. Announcements
    1. Fill out the seminar announcement template with your seminar information and abstract. Template:soe_defense_seminar_template.docx
    2. Please email your announcement at least 2 weeks prior to your examination date in a word document and a pdf to and copy We will post the announcement in SE1 & SE 2, and send out the announcement 1 week prior to your examination date.
  5. Defense Date
    1. At least 1 week prior to your examination, you and your committee chair will receive an email with documents required to administer the examination. These documents include your current UC Merced transcripts, preliminary examination results (if applicable), Qualifying Examination Report, Approved Advancement to Candidacy Form, and the Report on Final Examination for the Ph.D. Degree Form. The committee chair will be responsible for submitting the signed Report on Final Examination for the Ph.D. Degree Form to the Graduate Staff in SE2 315 (or via email at within 48 hours of the completed examination.
    2. Bring a few copies of your signature page to your defense.  Please note that you will need to submit your dissertation signature page with original signatures to the Graduate Division when you upload/submit our final dissertation. 
  6. Finalize Dissertation and Submit Forms to Graduate Division
    1. Make any corrections/edits to final dissertation
    2. Upload to UC Merced Proquest website by deadline (please refer to )
    3. Submit original dissertation signature page by deadline (please refer to )