Doctoral Defense and Graduation

Students must defend their dissertations to an examining committee that consists of four current UWM graduate faculty members, including the student’s major professor/advisor, who chairs the committee. One faculty member must be from a department other than English. See information on The Dissertation Committee if you wish to have former or non-UWM faculty members on your defense committee. In addition, the student must complete the Doctoral section of the Declaration of Committee form by adding all members of the Dissertation Defense Committee. The form is available in Forms and Checklists. The new form must be returned to the Graduate Program Associate via email.

Note: The student’s Major Advisor has the option to approve a fifth voting member on the dissertation defense committee.

The Graduate School requires all dissertation committee members to be in attendance in order for there to be a legal defense. A defense may be held in person or via teleconference. In either case, all dissertation committee members must indicate their vote as well as providing a signature or e-signature on the dissertation defense warrant. If the defense is held via teleconference, all committee members must email their vote and e-signature to the committee chair, the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Program Associate. A committee member may arrange to attend an in-person defense via teleconference if unable to appear in person. In such cases, that member must email their vote to the committee chair, the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Program Associate, providing their decision and e-signature for the warrant. That email must be returned with the warrant to the Graduate School.

Students must submit an Application for the Doctoral Defense and Graduation form to the Graduate School early in the semester they intend to defend their dissertation and graduate. There is a graduation fee. Students should check with the Graduate School to ensure that they meet all established deadlines and requirements.

After students determine a defense date and time that is agreeable to all members of the committee, they should inform the Program Associate for Graduate Studies. This should be done at least two weeks in advance of the defense. The Program Associate for Graduate Studies will reserve a room and notify members of the defense committee. Students should give a copy of the complete dissertation to their committee members at least a month before the defense date. Students should consult their advisor regarding the distribution of the dissertation. Before the defense, students also must submit an updated curriculum vitae (CV) to the Graduate Studies office.

There are May, August, and December graduation dates. Ceremonies are held in May and December. Students may not participate in graduation ceremonies until they have completed the degree requirements, including the defense. Doctoral students who complete degree requirements for August graduation may attend the December ceremony.