Final Oral Dissertation Defense

The doctoral candidate will successfully defend their dissertation in a publicly open, final oral exam, which is a requirement of UHM Graduate Division and cannot be waived. The defense consists of a formal public presentation of the dissertation research, followed by questioning from the public and committee members. This final oral “examination” on the dissertation is required of all candidates for the PhD degree. The candidate’s doctoral committee conducts the examination. It is a minimum of one hour in length but is usually scheduled for two hours to ensure adequate time for committee review and discussion with the student. The Graduate Division requires the defense to be during standard business hours. The department encourages students to attend defenses by other students, and generally provides an opportunity to rehearse the presentation in advance to help with preparation for the defense.

It is highly recommended that scheduling for a defense be done about two months or more in advance as all committee members must be present (even if virtually) for the defense; sometimes it is difficult to find a time that is mutually acceptable. Schedules should not be set until your dissertation advisor approves moving forward. This is usually when your advisor has seen at least a draft of all dissertation chapters. 

When the chair has determined the dissertation is completed, the final document is sent to the committee no later than three weeks before the oral defense. Decisions about sharing drafts with the full committee earlier are at the discretion of the chair and committee members. Students should not send a final draft to the committee until the chair has approved the document. Failure to meet the three-week minimum for the committee to review the document may result in the need to reschedule the defense date.

The scheduled date of the defense and the title of the dissertation are submitted on a form to the Graduate Division no later than two weeks before the event. The event information is also posted on the COE web site and emailed to COE faculty and doctoral students.

The defense/examination is typically done only during fall or spring semesters to ensure all committee members are available for the defense. LTEC has approval for virtual defenses. While there is no required date for when a defense can occur, it must be early enough in the semester in which a student expects to graduate to allow any revisions before the Graduate Division deadline for manuscripts; this date is listed in the UHM academic calendar. Following a successful defense, the student submits a signed Graduate Division Form III, which must be signed by a majority of the committee, the student, and the program Graduate Chair.