Dissertation and Final Oral Exam

Students must inform their committee members of their intention to schedule a defense during the term PRIOR to the term in which they plan to defend. Committee members will consult concerning whether the dissertation is in sufficiently final form to warrant the fixing of a date for the oral examination. Committee members will normally have seen the bulk of the work of the dissertation before making this judgment. Students should consult with their Dissertation Director and other Committee members about the amount of material they will need to see, the state of completion needed, and the time required for this judgment to be made. When the Dissertation Committee judges that the student is ready to defend, the student must coordinate with the Dissertation Committee and the Department Co-ordinator to settle the date and time for the dissertation.

Students should consult with their Committee concerning a precise deadline for submission of the final draft of the dissertation for the defense. This is normally several weeks to a month before the defense date. Students should be aware that, in practice, in order to graduate in a given quarter, the final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee in the first week or two of that quarter, so that the defense can take place prior to the Library's deadline for submitting the final form of the dissertation, leaving time for any necessary revisions noted during the defense. For information regarding the precise deadline by which your approved dissertation must be submitted in a given quarter for the degree to be granted in that same quarter, please click here. Note also that an exam cannot be scheduled for at least two weeks after the formal request has been submitted.

The defense must take place at the University of Chicago, preferably in the Autumn, Winter, or Spring quarters. Summer defenses are scheduled at the discretion of the student's Dissertation Committee.

The student and at least one member of the Dissertation Committee must be physically present at the defense.

The student should submit, within the timeline notes, to the Department Coordinator:

  • the scheduled date, time, and the members of the committee, and any special room requirements, at least 3 weeks prior, or as soon as the date and time are settled
  • an electronic copy (.doc or .docx) of a 1-2 paragraph abstract, at least 3 weeks prior
  • an electronic copy of a 10-page abstract of the dissertation, at least 2 weeks prior

The final oral exam is a public event. The examining committee consists of the members of the dissertation committee, along with an appointed member of the Humanities Division faculty who serves as a representative of the Dean's Office. Other faculty and graduate students from the Philosophy Department may and generally do attend. Family members of the doctoral candidate and other members of the general public are also welcome.

Note: Dissertation Submisison Information - Link


If a student passes, then it is customary in the final phase of the exam for the members of the student's dissertation committee to request a final round of revisions to the dissertation. The final granting of the degree is conditional upon the completion of these final revisions.  These are to be made promptly after the exam and prior to the formal submission of the PhD document. After the dissertation is submitted, the student is encouraged to provide each member of the dissertation committee with an electronic version of the document in its final form.