Final Oral Exam

The final oral examination will proceed according to the regulations of Graduate Studies.

We refer to these requirements below, as they appeared on September 24th, 2010, and we have inserted some modified requirements for those students who wish to pursue a more multidisciplinary dissertation topic.

It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that all University and Departmental requirements are satisfied.

Completion of the dissertation is the culminating academic phase of a doctoral program, climaxed by the final oral examination and defense of the dissertation. In all but the rarest cases, tentative approval of the dissertation is followed promptly by the final oral examination. Students must deliver their complete dissertation (PDF is acceptable) to their committee at least one calendar week before a final defense can be scheduled with the University. After each committee member agrees that the dissertation is essentially complete, a final defense can be scheduled. Lack of a committee member's response is considered to be implicit approval. This process will be fully monitored by the Graduate Coordinator. Once committee approval has been granted, the final defense must be scheduled with the Graduate Coordinator, though it is the responsibility of the student to find a date and time which will work for all Committee members. This requirement must be made in advance of the desired examination date by at least the period specified by the Graduate Division (normally a minimum of three weeks). The submission of the request must allow sufficient time to publicize the examination so that interested members of the university community may attend. At least five months must elapse between the successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination and the date of the final oral examination.

The committee for the final oral examination must follow the guideline put into place by Graduate Studies. In addition, the Chair of the committee and three of the other four members must have appointments of some type within the Physics and Astronomy department. One member must be from a department other than the Physics and Astronomy department. Deviation from this policy may be allowed in special circumstances. Special circumstances will be determined on a case by case basis, and must be petitioned at least THREE weeks before the intended examination date, though more notice may provide a better chance to get the petition approved in time.

For students (and only those students) who are pursuing a multidisciplinary plan of study -- as defined by their substitution of courses from other departments for PHSX electives as described in the Course Requirements section -- up to two members of the committee, including the one required outside member, may be faculty from other SEM departments with regular, adjunct, or courtesy appointments at KU. The Chair must have an appointment of some type within the Physics and Astronomy Department. (Exception: if the primary appointment of the Chair is outside the department, then only one additional committee member may be outside the Department of Physics and Astronomy.) NOTE: It is assumed that these research projects may involve interaction between physics and one or more other SEM disciplines; therefore, the external faculty members may come from up to two different departments.

The College Office of Graduate Affairs ascertains whether all other degree requirements have been met and if reports of any previously scheduled final oral examinations have been submitted and recorded. Upon approval of the request, the final oral examination is scheduled at the time and place approved by the Dissertation Committee. This information must be published in a news medium as prescribed by the Graduate Faculty. Interested members of the university community are encouraged to attend these examinations. Prior to the oral defense, each member of the Ph.D. Committee is expected to complete the on-line rubric form for evaluation of the written communication and learning outcomes, as exemplified by the written thesis.

For every scheduled final oral examination, the department reports to the Graduate Division a grade of Honors, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory for the candidate's performance. If an Unsatisfactory grade is reported, the candidate may be allowed to repeat the examination on the recommendation of the department. Please see the guidelines for assigning a grade of PASS with HONORS (Approved April 2013). Prior to the oral defense, each member of the Ph.D. Committee is expected to complete the on-line rubric form for evaluation of the written communication and learning outcomes, as exemplified by the written thesis. Here is an example of the rubric.

The dissertation signature page must be signed by all committee members before the graduate coordinator approves the Application for Graduation. These signatures will be the indication that the dissertation and any revisions are satisfactory. All revisions must be completed by the date indicated on the signed Exam Outcome Form. This date must be within a 6 month period following the oral exam.

Students have to successfully submit their revised dissertation within the stated period. If they fail to do so, the minimum number of credit hours in which they have to enroll to remain a full-time student will be increased from one to three.

See all Graduate College requirements for a comprehensive guide on policies and procedures.