So you’re almost ready to defend your thesis…..
Congratulations! This page explains the protocol for what you need to do in the two months or so before and after your defense.
First, set a tentative defense date. Contact your committee members and the graduate coordinator (Laura Kasman, kasmanL@musc.edu) to find a time when all of them can meet for 2-3 hours. It is not required that the graduate coordinator be at your defense, and a substitute will be arranged if she cannot attend. Belinda Andersen (2-2476) can help you reserve a room for your defense seminar, if it is not during the regular M&I seminar series. You also need to reserve a conference room for the closed defense immediately afterwards.
Second, provide all of your committee members with a copy of your draft dissertation (PhD) or thesis (MS). Your mentor should have already approved it as complete enough, if not completely polished, for distribution.
Third, three weeks prior to your defense date, you must complete and turn in the THESIS/DISSERTATION DEFENSE NOTIFICATION form (Dissertation Defense Notification) to the CGS Dean's office. To be complete, it must be signed by each of your committee members and the graduate coordinator. By signing this form, each committee member is indicating that they have seen your draft and judged it ready to defend. BEST PRACTICE is to deliver your thesis to your committee members at least a week earlier (4 weeks before your defense date) so that they have time to look it over before signing. They are NOT required to sign the form if they have not had time to examine your dissertation. If needed, you can collect a signature by FAX. At this time you must also provide a copy of your draft to the Graduate Coordinator to be put on display for public review.
Fourth, prepare your seminar. If possible, practice it before a live audience.
Fifth, defend. You have just written an advanced monograph on your original research. You are the world expert on your results and hopefully are well versed in how your results relate to your field, and the pitfalls of your approach. The examiners will ask questions mostly on these areas, but they hope to learn something as well. The oral defense is a chance to be the expert in the room. If you successfully complete your oral defense, your committee members should sign the SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE form before leaving. The graduate coordinator will bring this form to your defense.
Sixth, polish your dissertation / thesis. As your committee members read your thesis / dissertation, they may send you lists of corrections they require, or simply give you your draft back with written comments in it after your oral defense. You should make the corrections and keep track of them, so that you can show each person that their corrections have been made. After your defense, when you believe all of the corrections are complete, you will arrange to meet briefly with each committee member individually to show them the corrections they requested have been made in your final version, and to have them sign the cover page(s) for your final dissertation.
Seventh, turn in your signed thesis / dissertation to the graduate school. See the CGS web page http://www.musc.edu/grad/students/index.html for details on dissertation preparation, binding, and graduation. You’re finished! Get some sleep.