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M.S. (Plan I) Thesis Defense, Exam and Filing

M.S. Thesis Defense, Exam, and Filing Instructions (Plan I)

Thesis Defense and Examination (M.S.)

The thesis and defense are the culminating projects of the M.S. degree (Plan I). The student is encouraged to discuss with members of the degree committee both the substance and the preparation of the thesis well in advance of the planned date of thesis defense and final examination.

The M.S. final defense and examination consists of an open seminar on the thesis work followed by a closed examination by the degree committee.  During the examination, the student is expected to explain the significance of the thesis 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 thesis and the student's performance are satisfactory to earn a M.S. degree from the University of California.

M.S. Thesis Defense, Exam and Filing Procedure

  1. Review Graduate Division Checklists
    1. Please visit for the Ph.D./M.S. Degree Application Forms and Guidelines.
    2. Make sure you have submitted the M.S. Advancement to Candidacy online form at least 30 days prior to the start of the semester in which you plan to graduate in.  Please contact for the link to the online form.
    3. 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 thesis 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. Stop by SE2 Room 315 to pick up school-specific documents from the front desk and hand them to your committee chair.  The committee chair will be responsible for submitting all forms to the SoE Graduate Staff in SE2 315 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 Thesis and Submit Forms to Graduate Division
    1. Make any corrections/edits to final thesis
    2. Upload to UC Merced Proquest website by deadline (please refer to )
    3. Submit original thesis signature page by deadline (please refer to )