Final Exam (Dissertation Defense)

Basic Checklist:

1. Approximately 4 months before you plan to defend, contact your committee to see which dates will work for them.

2. Turn in a complete version of your thesis to your reading committee at least three weeks before you defend. 

3. Send the names of your reading committee members to Brian if you haven't already done so.

4. Submit your exam request online three weeks before you defend (see below for further details)

5. Decide well in advance of your defense whether or not you will be staying on as a postdoctoral fellow after you defend and contact the Genome Sciences admin staff to make arrangements.


The fine print: 
Please read through the following info -- it's worth your time.

1. At least 3-4 months before you expect to finish writing, make sure that your Supervisory Committee members will be available at the time you plan your defense. At least four members of your committee must be in attendance, including your advisor, the Graduate School Representitive, and at least one additional graduate faculty member. It can be very difficult to find a day and time that works for all or most of your committee as well as find a suitable location. It's best to start thinking about this sooner rather than later. Brian can help you find a location for your defense.

2. At this point you should choose a Reading Committee, comprised of your advisor and two other members. Send their names to Brian Giebel, who will set this up with the Graduate School. There is no hard deadline for this, but it should be done before you apply online to defend.

3. Once you (and your advisor) feel your thesis is complete, submit this completed version of the thesis (with all figures and references...not a draft) to your reading committee. You'll want to give your reading committee time to read your thesis before you defend, but the exact timing is between you and them. Three weeks before your defense is a strongly suggested courtesy.

4. Once you have determined a time that works for everyone, and once your committee has agreed that you are ready to defend, submit this request online via the Graduate School's new My Grad Program: Student View website. There is no hard deadline for this, but you would do well to do this at least three weeks before you plan to defend. This will allow a bit of time to clear up any unforeseen problems.

5. Send Brian Giebel an email ( bgiebel [ a t ] ) to let him know you've submitted your request, so that he may go into the online system and provide departmental approval.

6. Brian will provide the exam warrant, which your committee members will need to sign and return after your exam. Brian will then go into the online system to enter the result.


If you plan to schedule your defense toward the end of the quarter, you need to defend and submit a completed version of your thesis to the graduate school by the last day of finals week that quarter in order to graduate that quarter. It is theoretically possible to schedule your defense the last day of the quarter, assuming your committee will not ask for any changes afterward, but you'd be crazy to do this. Building in at least a week (and more is better) will make life much easier.


Registration as a graduate student is required the quarter the dissertation is defended. However, if you successfully defend but are not able to submit your thesis until the following quarter, you can pay the Graduate Degree Registration Waiver of $250 rather than being required to register for the following quarter, as was previously the case. Please note that this is a very limited option available only for the two weeks immediately following the end of the quarter. Please also be aware that if you use this option, you will not officially be awarded your degree until the end of that quarter.

For example:

Suppose you defend at the end of Spring Quarter, but can't submit your thesis by the end of that quarter and so have to use the registration waiver ($250) option to buy two extra weeks. You then will not officially graduate until the end of Summer Quarter.


Regarding thesis submission:

1. The Graduate School no longer requires that you submit a hard copy of your thesis. Submission is now electronic. Please see their website for instructions and more information.

2. Formatting guidelines are available on their website. You may also find the ProQuest frequently asked questions page helpful.

3. You will need to provide the graduate school with a signed copy of the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee Approval form. As of summer quarter 2015, this should now be scanned and uploaded to the Administrative Documents section of the UW ETD Administrator Site.

4. The department will pay for 3 copies of your thesis to be bound: one for you, one for your mentor, and one for the departmental archives. You can send Brian a PDF to get this done.


Post-graduation plans: Read This. Read This. Read This.

And finally, please discuss your post-graduation plans with your mentor and decide ahead of time whether you will leave the UW immediately after you graduate, or whether you'll stay on in your mentor's lab for a while.

This last point is worth repeating: setting up even a temporary postdoctoral position requires a lot of time and hoop jumping, so please decide on this before you defend and discuss with the department's HR (Serena Newhall, Foege S-250) and postdoctoral staff (Justin Wong, Foege S-350). In any case, regardless of whether you stay on as a postdoc or not, you should check in with HR Manager Serena Newhall so that she may adjust your payroll distribution as needed.

An important payroll consideration is that you must be on payroll for at least 5 of the 6 pay periods in a given quarter in order for your tuition waiver to remain in place. For example, suppose you defend your dissertation in mid-November. Your grad student appointment must go through at least 5 of the 6 pay periods -- in this case, November 30 -- in order for your tuition waiver to remain in place.

You will have GAIP insurance coverage through the end of the month in which your payroll appointment ends. For example, if you graduate Autumn Quarter, and have a payroll appointment through December 15, you will have insurance coverage through December 31. An exception to this rule is that if you are on payroll for Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters, you will have insurance coverage through Summer Quarter as well (in payroll terms, this will be through September 30), regardless of whether or not you are on payroll during Summer Quarter.

If you need to pay for continued coverage beyond the quarter in which you graduate, please contact the UW Benefits Office for further information.

Information on your UW netID and email forwarding is available on the UW IT website.