Ph.D. Final Oral Examination

Both the dissertation adviser/committee chair and the student are responsible for ensuring the completion of a draft of the dissertation and for adequate consultation with members of the doctoral committee well in advance of the final oral examination. Major revisions of the dissertation should be completed before this examination.

It is the responsibility of the doctoral candidate and committee chair/dissertation adviser to provide a copy of the dissertation to each member of the doctoral committee at least two weeks before the date of the scheduled examination. The dissertation should be complete and in its final draft, with correct and polished content and style, appropriate notes, bibliography, tables, etc., at the time it is distributed to the committee members. If a committee member finds that the final draft is not correct and polished with respect to content and style, it is his/her responsibility to notify the committee chair/dissertation adviser at least one week in advance of the final oral examination date. The committee member should indicate his/her concerns regarding the draft and may recommend consideration of postponement of the examination to the committee chair/dissertation adviser. The chair/adviser, in consultation with committee members, is responsible for notifying the student and assessing whether the student can make the necessary revisions to the final draft before the examination date. If it is determined that revisions cannot be made in time, the final oral examination must be postponed.

The final examination of the doctoral candidate is an oral examination administered and evaluated by the entire doctoral committee. It consists of an oral presentation of the dissertation by the candidate and a period of questions and responses. These will relate in large part to the dissertation, but may cover the candidate's entire program of study, because a major purpose of the examination is also to assess the general scholarly attainments of the candidate. The portion of the examination in which the dissertation is presented is open to the University community and the public; therefore, it is expected that the examination will take place at the campus location of the academic unit offering the program.

If a committee member is unable to participate in the final oral examination, the member may sign as a special signatory. A revised committee appointment form will need to be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services, removing the individual as a regular committee member and if it is desired to designate that individual as a special signatory, a memo from the program head must accompany the revised committee form, requesting that the committee member be moved to a special signatory. As noted above, if there are then not enough members serving on the committee (i.e., four or more active members of the Graduate Faculty), another Penn State graduate faculty member will need to be appointed officially to the doctoral committee to replace the absent member in order to constitute a legitimate doctoral committee. These changes and approvals must occur before the actual examination takes place (ad hoc substitutes are not permitted).