PhD in Regional Planning

Your Dissertation & Final Examination

After successfully completing the proposal defense and preliminary examination, you must register each regular academic term until you have met the 96-hour credit requirement. Thereafter, if you are away from campus, you need not register each semester until the term of your defense as defined below. You may take a maximum of 32 hours of UP 599 Thesis Research or as few as 8 hours if you want more flexibility in your course work.

Keep in close contact with your advisor and other individual committee members to discuss ideas and findings regularly. Do not wait until substantial portions of the work are completed; your committee members can help you avoid unnecessary and unproductive effort. Committee members should respond promptly with constructive criticism and assurances, when appropriate, that you are making good progress. Meet with the director of your dissertation research at least monthly (typically weekly) to discuss your research progress.

The length and format of the dissertation are determined by agreement between the candidate and the committee. You are expected to complete your dissertation within one year, but not more than two years, from the date of your oral proposal defense. An exception occurs if at the proposal defense you and your committee explicitly agreed on the additional time needed because of factors inherent in your research plan. One year after passing your proposal defense, and subsequently at six-month intervals, you must demonstrate to the full committee that you are making reasonable progress on your dissertation research.

You must successfully defend your dissertation in a final oral examination, which evaluates the quality of your dissertation research. Procedures for the final examination are governed by the Graduate College. You must register during the entire term in which you have your final dissertation examination. For this purpose only, term is defined as extending through the day prior to the first day of the following term. If more than five years elapse between the oral preliminary and final Ph.D. examinations, you must pass another preliminary examination.

Generally the same committee that administered the oral proposal defense examines the completed dissertation, but substitutions may be made. At least one month prior to the examination, the chair of your committee requests that the program Director recommend to the Dean of the Graduate College that the members of this committee be designated as the examining committee. The same membership requirements as for the oral proposal defense committee apply to the final examination committee. Examination format, committee membership requirement, committee appointment process, the role of the chair as well as procedure for examination approval are all governed by the Graduate College rules and regulations. Please closely observe those requirements as outlined by the Graduate College website. In brief, all voting members should be present at the examination, physically or via electronic communication mediums. But the Chair, the defending student and at least one member of the committee must be physically present during the examination.

The chair is responsible for scheduling the examination and notifying committee members. The examination is open to the public, and the chair of your committee arranges for the time and place of the examination to be announced to the department faculty and graduate students at least 10 days in advance of the exam via e-mail. You must submit to committee members an electronic or a hard copy of your dissertation (as desired by committee members) at least two weeks prior to examination.

Although the examination is open to the public, deliberations of the committee are held in an executive session. The committee must reach a unanimous decision of pass with a satisfactory thesis, pass pending revision of thesis, decision deferred, or fail. The chair is responsible for submitting the Certificate of Result of Final Examination with original signatures of all voting members to the Department. The decision is communicated by the Department to the Graduate College. If the committee cannot agree on a decision, the chair confers with the Ph.D. Program Director and the Head.

After passing the final examination and having your dissertation approved, you must provide a copy (electronic version in PDF format accepted) for format review to the Department thesis reviewer at least one week before the dissertation is due to be deposited in the Graduate College. Graduate College guidelines for dissertation preparation and deposit are described at the Graduate College Thesis and Dissertation website ( For program archives you must also provide to the Department the website link to the finalized version of your dissertation as accepted by the Graduate College.

Ph.D. degrees are awarded in May, August, and December. Students must apply to be on the degree list and deposit the dissertation by deadlines established by the Graduate College. These deadlines are available from the Graduate College Academic Calendar ( and the Department Office. If more than one year elapses between your final Ph.D. examination and depositing the dissertation with the Graduate College, the dissertation must be accompanied by a signed petition and a statement from the Head to the Dean of the Graduate College. The statement must address whether the dissertation being deposited is essentially the one that you defended and whether an award of the degree is appropriate under the circumstances.