Dissertation Defense

Dissertation Defense 

The candidate will reach out to the Director of the Doctoral Program in order to schedule the oral dissertation defense. Without a complete Pre-Defense Meeting Form, the request will not be processed.


The defense should be scheduled at the beginning of the semester in which the candidate plans to defend. There must be three weeks prior notice to the defense. Please reach out to the Program Associate for deadlines within the Doctoral Program and the Graduate School. Once they have notified the Program Associate of their defense, they must apply to graduate. If the Program Associate is not notified of defense, information regarding graduation will not be sent to the candidate. Candidates must work with their Chair to decide when the candidate is ready to defend. The candidate must send a final copy of the dissertation with the Pre-Defense Meeting Form prior to defense to the Director of the Doctoral Program no later than three weeks prior to the defense. The final copy of the dissertation may be the same copy taken to the pre-defense meeting as long as a list of edits is attached to the dissertation. The copies may be electronic, including a scanned copy of the signed Pre-Defense Meeting Form.

Failure to send in the dissertation and all materials on time will cause a delay in defense.


Candidates are required to prepare a 20-30 minute presentation for the defense. The candidates must also bring printed signature pages to the defense. As of Spring 2019, the signature pages may be printed on regular printer paper. If the candidate is part of the Distance Education cohorts, they will need to reach out to the Program Associate (Elizabeth Fields; fieldsle1@appstate.edu) for assistance with printing. The oral defense is a formal occasion; however, candidates are encouraged to invite family, friends and colleagues to the hearing. In addition, the Program Associate will make a formal announcement of the defense to the Appalachian State University community.

At the defense, the Chair will introduce the candidate to the audience and may present an overview of the dissertation or personal remarks about the candidate. The oral defense and examination will follow. The candidate will present for 20-30 minutes, followed with questions from the committee and ending with questions from the rest of the audience. Generally, the presentation and questions last for about an hour and a half. After questions are finished, everyone aside from the committee and the Director or Associate Director of the Doctoral Program will leave the doctoral suite. The committee and Director will deliberate on the oral defense and the finished dissertation. Upon completion of the deliberations, the Chair will retrieve the candidate.

If the candidate passes the defense, they will be reintroduced to the community with their new title. If the candidate fails to pass the defense, they will be required to make substantial changes and defend at a later date. If a candidate fails to pass the defense more than once, the Director and Associate Director will determine the future of the candidate in the program. Barring extenuating circumstances, the candidate will likely be counseling out of the Doctoral Program.

After the reintroduction to the community, the committee, Director/Associate Director and the candidate will meet to talk over what changes will need to be made to the dissertation before sending it to the Graduate School. At this point, the signature pages will be signed. If the candidate is part of the Distance Ed cohorts, they will give their signature pages to the Program Associate who will keep them until they take the printed copy to the Graduate School.