Currently, all paperwork should be submitted to The Graduate School is not open for in-person submissions. 

Students complete their dissertation defense (or final oral exam) typically at the end of their fifth year. The Graduate School's Deadlines & Submission Instructions page provides critical information regarding deadlines, paperwork, and scheduling. Students file to graduate in their final semester. The Graduate School typically hosts workshops that are helpful and recommended.

Effective fall 2020, all graduate students must hold their defense at least two weeks prior to the submission deadline. Please see the Graduate School's key dates page to learn the exact deadline for holding your defense. 

DocuSign versions of the Request for Final Oral Form and the Report of Dissertation Committee form are available to you. More information is included in the sections below. Should you need to use non-DocuSign digital forms, please contact the Graduate Coordinator.

Before Your Defense

  1. Has your committee membership changed since you advanced to candidacy? 
    1. Check your committee membership here. If it is correct, skip to number 2. If it is not correct, learn how to change your committee membership below. 
    2. If you need to change your committee membership, submit a request to the Graduate School to formally change your committee membership at least 30 days prior to your final oral exam. If you are within 30 days, additional permissions and a petition may be required. 
  2. Review the Graduate School website. 
    1. The Graduate School has critical information regarding deadlines, paperwork, and scheduling. Try to review this at least one semester before your defense.
  3. Meet with your supervisor. 
    1. Discuss your plan to defend and any important requirements/expectations for your defense.
  4. File to graduate. 
    1. At the beginning of your final semester, you must file to graduate to let the Graduate School know you will finish your degree. The application for graduation is typically available on the first class day of the semester. 
  5. Schedule your defense. Contact your committee members to let them know when you hope to defend and ask them for their availability. You must defend at least 2 weeks prior to the submission deadline in your final semester. 
    1. When you've determined a date, you must submit the Request for Final Oral Form to the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance of the date of your defense. Access the DocuSign version of the Request for Final Oral form here. When the form is completed, you will receive a notification from DocuSign. Download the form and submit it to
    2. After you submit the Request for Final Oral form to the Graduate School, you can include one copy each of the dissertation abstract, title page, doctoral committee membership page, a table of contents, and lists of tables and figures to Bob Penman at the Graduate School for a format check. 
    3. The Request for Final Oral form is the official mechanism for scheduling your defense with the Graduate School. Scheduling changes may take place as needed prior to submitting the form. If you need to change the date or time of your defense after the form is submitted, please contact the Graduate Coordinator.
  6. Send your dissertation to your committee. 
    1. Once your supervisor approves, send your dissertation to the rest of your committee at least 4 weeks prior to your final oral exam. 
  7. Contact the Graduate Coordinator
    1. Send the date and time of the defense, the title of your dissertation, an abstract, and whether your defense will be open or closed to the Graduate Coordinator. 
  8. Prepare your presentation. Most students will use PowerPoint or a similar program to present. Discuss format and style with your supervisor.
  9. Prepare forms. As of fall 2020, there is only one form you need to have signed at your defense - the Report of Dissertation Committee form. You have two options for collecting signatures on this form:
    1. At least one week prior to the student’s scheduled defense, the Graduate School will email a PDF file of the Report of Dissertation Committee form/gold form (pre-populated with the students name and the names and roles of all the committee members) to the student, their supervisor, and the Graduate Coordinator.
    2. Please instead use the DocuSign version of the report of dissertation committee form to collect signatures. Three steps are required for this form:
      1. On the first page, you need to designate signers, including your advisor, all committee members, and the GSC Chair, Dr. David Mitlin. 
      2. On the second page, fill in your EID and dissertation title and any other required fields, and click Submit. 
      3. IMPORTANT: After clicking submit, the form will route back to you. You will need to click the Release button in the form to send the form to your committee for signature. We recommend releasing the form either right before or right after your defense so your committee can easily find the request in their inboxes.
      4. All members are required to sign and no proxies will be allowed. The form should be turned in by the student to the Graduate School by the graduation deadline. While the Graduate School staff works from home, you may submit all paperwork to
  10. Learning Outcomes Form: In addition, the faculty supervisor will need to complete the Learning Outcomes Form. The Graduate Coordinator will send to the supervisor via DocuSign.
  11. MS&E Exit Survey: Please fill out our exit survey here.
  12. Confirm with your committee
    1. Be sure to confirm your committee's attendance and send a reminder at least a few days in advance. Committee participation is set by the Graduate School. The Graduate School does not distinguish between virtual and in-person participation.
  13. Other requirements, can be found here.  These are also due by the deadlines set by the Graduate School.

At Your Defense

  1. Arrive early. Set up the room and/or media, and greet your committee and attendees. 
  2. Distribute forms and paperwork from step 9
    1. Have the appropriate documents to acquire all of the necessary signatures. The Report of Dissertation Committee form will be sent directly to you, your supervisor, and the Graduate Coordinator via email one week prior to your defense. Please check with your supervisor to ensure this is brought to your defense or received via DocuSign and all signatures are acquired. One Learning Outcomes form will be distributed to the supervising faculty from the Graduate Coordinator.
  3. Conduct your defense
    1. The process can take up to a few hours, including the presentation, questions, and deliberation.
  4. Acquire signatures
    1. If you have successfully defended, acquire signatures for your forms. Collect signatures for the Report of Dissertation Committee form and ask your supervising professor to complete the Learning Outcomes Form.
    2. Signatures on the Report of Dissertation Committee form may be electronic. Be sure the signatures meet Graduate School requirements
    3. Authorized designees. If the GSC Chair (Dr. Mitlin) is unavailable for signature, the MSE Graduate Advisor (Dr. Subramanian) may sign instead.

Immediately After Your Defense

  1. Check in with the Graduate Coordinator
  2. Upload your dissertation
    1. You must upload your dissertation to the Texas Digital Library by the Graduate School's deadline. Your dissertation must be uploaded prior to submitting final paperwork to the Graduate School.
  3. Submit your paperwork
    1. Submit your final paperwork to the Graduate School via email to All documents must be received by the Graduate School by their established deadline. Late paperwork will prevent you from graduating.

Changes to Dissertation Committee 

Changes to dissertation committee membership require special approval. If you must change your committee, download and complete this form or request the DocuSign version of the formThe Graduate School will not accept this form if it is not completed correctly. Please review the following notes to avoid delays in processing:

  • Be sure that the correct boxes are checked under your Supervisor's name and under the second member's name. The second member may be a regular member or a co-supervisor. This is the most common mistake on the form. 
  • If you are not changing your supervisor or co-supervisor, the signatures required are: Current Supervisor, Co-Supervisor, and Graduate Advisor 
  • If you are changing your supervisor or co-supervisor, the signatures required are: Current and New Supervisor, Current and New Co-Supervisor, and Graduate Advisor
  • The Graduate Dean's signature will be obtained after the change is approved at the Graduate School
  • If you are requesting a change within 30 days of your final oral defense, complete page 2 of the form as well
  • Regular members (non-supervisors or co-supervisors) are never required to sign the form, unless you are within 30 days of your final oral defense

Submit the completed form to 

If you use the DocuSign version, you must download the completed form and email it to the Graduate School, as forms are not routed to the Graduate School automatically through DocuSign. 

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