Document and Dissertation Defense and Deposit

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: Note that in order to allow adequate time for the submission of the Application for Final Orals (see below) and for the preparation of questions to be asked at the Defense, a copy of the abstract and the document or the composition should be provided to each member of the Reading Committee three or more weeks prior to the oral examination, and to all members of the Supervisory Committee more than two weeks prior to the Defense.

Document and Dissertation Defenses should be scheduled during the academic year (from the beginning of the second week of classes in the fall semester through the final exam period of the spring semester). The major professor is responsible for making arrangements with the other Committee members for the time, place, and format of the Defense. The Supervisory Committee must approve the scheduled dates for the Defense. The Defense should not be scheduled during the week prior to the start of classes in the fall semester nor during the first week of classes in the fall semester. If the student intends to graduate in a given semester, the Defense must take place prior to the deadline set for the semester by the Office of Graduate Studies for administering the Final Oral Examination.

The Office of Graduate Studies requires that the Application for Final Orals be submitted two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. This procedure is initiated by completing the Application for Final Oral Examination Form available from the Office of Graduate Studies website:
The application must be signed by the major professor and by two other members of the committee who have read/reviewed enough of the document to agree that the defense should proceed.

The Defense is primarily an oral defense of the document or composition, but any topic related to the document or composition may be explored if the Committee deems it appropriate. The duration of the oral exam is approximately two hours. The final examination for the doctoral degree is oral and open to members of both the University community and the public. The Supervisory Committee determines the defense’s format, character, and length. The examination may be devoted to the special field of the document or to the Candidate’s general knowledge, or it may be designed to test judgment and critical powers. During the document presentation and general questioning all persons may be present. At the end of the public hearing there will be a closed questioning portion of the examination where all persons except the Candidate, Supervisory Committee, and invited faculty must be excused. The final oral examination over the document may be waived only with the consent of the Graduate Dean.

If it is necessary, a Defense may proceed with only three members of the Committee present. The absent Committee member, however, must approve the document and sign the necessary forms. In the event that members of the Supervisory Committee are not unanimous in the decision to pass the candidate, the student is approved for the degree if only one examiner dissents. However, in each case, the dissenting member of the committee is expected to file a letter of explanation with the Office of Graduate Studies.

If a student fails to pass the final oral examination, the supervisory committee must file a report on the failure in the Graduate Studies Office and indicate what the student must do before taking another oral examination. Another examination may not be held during the same semester or the same summer session in which the student failed. A third attempt is not permitted.


Instructions for procedures after the final oral examination, typing instructions, and deposit of document are available from the Office of Graduate Studies website under Current Student Resources ( The Supervisory Committee has the right to recommend changes in the abstract and the dissertation at the time of the final oral examination. Such changes, should they be requested, normally are made by the student in consultation with the Supervisory Committee Chair and are incorporated in the final versions of the abstract and dissertation that will be uploaded to ProQuest and deposited in Love Library. The specific details for how to upload and deposit are in a set of final instructions that you will receive from the Doctoral Program Specialist in the Office of Graduate Studies.

In general terms, after you finalize the electronic version of your dissertation, you will sent it to the Doctoral Program Specialist for final approval. Once approved, you will upload it to ProQuest (and UNL's Digital Commons, if desired), following the instructions provided to you. You do not need to create a bound copy of a typescript of your document; bound copies are not a part of the depositing process and are not overseen by Graduate Studies.

Finally, you will deposit a set of materials at Love Library that includes (but is not limited to) final copies of the title page and abstract, the signature page, and the e-mail you received from ProQuest confirming the upload of your document. For more information, see