Final Oral Exam

Master Degree

Students electing either a Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis) program are required to pass a final oral examination. The exam is administered by a committee identified by the adviser and student and approved by the DGS and Graduate School . The final examinations cover the major field and the minor or related fields, and may include any work fundamental to these fields. The final oral for the master's degree is conducted as a closed examination, attended by only the student and the examining committee. In general, MS Plan A examinations often are primarily a thesis defense whereas Plan B examinations will focus more on general information from coursework. Immediately prior to the examination, CB students almost always present a public seminar on their thesis. The examining committee must be present during the seminar because a separate presentation will not occur during the closed session. 

Doctoral Degree

Each doctoral student is required to successfully defend his/her thesis in a final oral examination within five calendar years after passing the preliminary oral examination. To be eligible for the final oral examination, a student must have completed all coursework listed on the official doctoral degree program form; must have passed both the written and oral preliminary examinations; must have maintained active status; and must have satisfied the thesis credit requirement. In addition, the thesis must have been certified by the readers as ready for defense. The student must schedule the examination at least one week in advance with both the committee and the Graduate School. Scheduling for the final oral exam with the graduate school should be done online at

The final oral examination consists of a seminar in which the candidate presents the thesis and to which the scholarly community is invited. The seminar may take place only after the thesis has been judged ready for defense. A closed meeting between the candidate and the appointed examining committee immediately follows the thesis presentation. The examination is limited to the candidate's thesis subject and relevant areas and will not exceed three hours. The candidate is then excused and a vote is taken on whether the candidate passed the examination.