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This document outlines the steps a Ph.D. or Master’s student must take the semester they defend their thesis

Authored by Rachel Weihs, Dan Halperin, Tim McGann


You are responsible for:

  • Adhering to department and university requirements for your defense and graduation
    • Including deadlines for defense, thesis manuscript clearance, final clearance, etc.
  • Making sure you are aware of semester deadlines
    • While we have attempted to make this document as accurate as possible, the graduate school website and personnel have the final authority on defense/graduation policies.
    • Official dates can be found in the Manuscript Clearance folder in the GradSpace group on Blackboard
  • Failure to adhere to these policies can result in you having to re-defend your work and delay your graduation

Your new best friend is GradSpace on Blackboard. All university forms and defense/graduation deadlines are located there.

At the beginning of the semester, you should:

  • Perform a Graduation Check
    • See the Academic Advisor (Tim McGann) to make sure you have met all required courses in order to graduate
  • Talk with Your Committee
    • Make sure that your committee is formed
      • Committees should be formed during the second semester at FSU
  • Complete committee signature form according to department standards (obtain and submit the form to the Academic Advisor)
    • M.S. committees must consist of three EOAS tenure track faculty
    • Ph.D. committees must consist of four EOAS tenure track faculty and one university representative (“outside member”)
  • Meet with them collectively before you give a defense (ideally once each semester you are here)
  • Choose a defense date
    • Seminar time is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:30 pm in room 353 throughout the semester. Modifications can be made with the approval of your committee and room availability.
    • Check the EOAS calendar to view current available dates
    • Get approval from all committee members on the date of defense
    • There are specific dates for each semester that you must defend by in order to graduate in that semester!
      • This is usually the 8th week of the semester
  • Be registered for class
    • Make sure you are registered for at least 2 hours of Thesis (MET 5971 for MS) and 1 hour of Dissertation (MET 6980 for Ph.D.). You also need to be registered for seminar and defense (unless you are carrying incompletes from a previous semester).
    • Apply for graduation
  • Attend an ETD workshop (recommended)
    • The University has specific requirements about how you write and format your manuscript as well as the paperwork you need to submit
    • Each semester, the graduate school hosts workshops that go over the process
    • You can find the dates on the Calendar of Events on the Graduate School website

Writing Your Thesis

  • The Graduate School has specific formatting guidelines for theses/dissertations
  • Word and LaTeX templates are available on GradSpace
  • Outlines/organization of the content should be discussed with your major professor

Getting Closer to Seminar Time…

  • The University requires that you MUST perform two steps before your defense seminar:
    • Announcement of Defense
      • At Least 2 Weeks prior to your defense, you need to complete an Announcement of Defense for the Graduate School (found on the Graduate School Blackboard site “GradSpace”)
        • This step will also confirm that your committee is valid
    • Clear your manuscript format
      • This is the University’s way of making sure that all graduate students’ theses are consistent
      • Ultimately, a person reviews your manuscript and emails back changes that need to be made before you can submit your final version to the University
      • There are specific instructions on how to perform this process on GradSpace / Manuscript Clearance / The Manuscript Clearnace Process
      • Poorly formatted, “sloppy,” or incomplete manuscripts will not be reviewed, and will not be considered an initial submission for the purpose of meeting a semester clearance deadline
      • Again, there is a deadline towards the end of the semester to have this done
  • Warning: The manuscript clearance office can be very busy towards the end of the semester or near deadline dates. It is better to send your manuscript earlier in the semester for faster clearance
  • The department strongly recommends  that you:
    • Send your manuscript to each of your committee members AT LEAST 2 weeks before your M.S. defense and 4 weeks before your Ph.D. defense
      • This allows ample time for them to read your thesis
      • It is polite to ask each committee member whether they would like a paper or electronic copy
  • Give a dry run of your defense presentation
    • Check with your major advisor as to when they expect you to give a dry run
    • Ideally, this should be about a month - 2 weeks before your defense
    • If you are in a lab, typically you will give your dry run to your lab mates. Feel free to ask your friends and other graduate students
    • Try to practice in the seminar room to get used to the surroundings

Tips for your Seminar Presentation

  • 40-45 minutes is a good target for length of presentation
    • If you go longer, your audience gets bored, no matter how interesting your topic is
  • Make sure that your figures/text are justified towards the top of the slide
    • Room 353 is notoriously bad for people sitting in the back. They will not be able to see over others heads
  • Make sure you arrive early and set up the equipment (in case you encounter any technical problems)
    • It puts people to sleep
    • Leave on the recess lighting
  • Bring your Manuscript Signature Form to your defense. Some (or all) committee members may be willing to sign it immediately after your defense.

After the Seminar

  • Pfew! It’s Over!
    • Revise the manuscript based on the committee’s comments and the formatting revisions requested by the Clearance Advisor, and upload the revised manuscript to your account on the UMI ETD Admin site


  • After your defense, you’ll need to fill out the following forms and turn them in to the Clearance Advisor (located at the Graduate School office in Westcott)
  • It is solely your responsibility to get the appropriate signatures for each form and turn them in to the Clearance Advisor
  • Final Degree Clearance Form
    • Must be signed by major professor, department chair, dean’s office (Longmire building)
  • Manuscript Signature Form
    • Must be signed by all committee members
    • Must be turned in within 1 week of the defense
  • ETD Access Agreeement Form (and embargo forms if requesting restricted access to their manuscript)
    • Must be signed by you and your major professor
  • RCRC Surve (completed online; link available on GradSpace)
  • Additional forms for Ph.D. candidates
    • University Representative submits the defense report within 1 week of your defense
    • Submit via email your Certificate of Completion for the Survey of Earned Doctorates

Forms Checklist

  • Check the Blackboard GradSpace site for:
    • M.S. Forms Checklist
    • Ph.D. Forms Checklist


  • You have 60 days from the date of your defense to make edits to your thesis/dissertation and turn in all required forms to your Clearance Advisor


  • EXCEPTION: If the final manuscript submission and forms deadline occurs earlier than 60 days after your defense, then you only have until the final manuscript submission and forms deadline
    • Example: If you defend on March 30th 2013, you only have until April 8th 2013 to make all necessary edits and submit all completed forms (NOT until May 30th - unless you plan to delay your graduation until summer 2013.


If you do not meet the 60 day rule, you WILL have to redefend. The Graduate School makes NO exceptions!