Checklist to Prepare for Dissertation Defense

All University of Miami School of Communication doctoral students are required to submit a dissertation. Before you defend:

  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0

  • Apply for candidacy

    When the student has met all requirements and passed the qualifying examinations, admission to candidacy for the degree is approved. No student may receive the degree in the same semester or summer session in which he or she is admitted to candidacy. The student must be admitted to candidacy before the defense of dissertation is scheduled.

  • Establish a dissertation committee

    When the student is admitted to candidacy, a dissertation committee is formed. A dissertation committee consists of a minimum of four members including the chair. All members must hold a Ph.D. degree or its equivalent. The chair must be a full‐time, permanent member of the School of Communication graduate faculty, two members must be SoC graduate faculty, and the fourth member must be from outside your immediate area of concentration within communication but can be from another area within SoC, or from outside SoC and even outside the University of Miami. This member must hold a Ph.D. degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited school. A short, academic CV (with physical address and email address and phone number) must be submitted to the graduate studies office for any committee member from outside the University of Miami. Exceptions to the committee composition may be approved by the chair of the department/concentration, the vice-dean, and Dean of the Graduate School. Additional members of the committee may be added beyond the minimum four, with the approval of the chair of the department/concentration and the vice dean.

    The duties of the Dissertation Committee as recorded in the University of Miami Bulletin are:

    1. To consult with and to advise students on their research;
    2. To meet, at regular intervals, to review progress and expected results;
    3. To read and comment upon the draft dissertation;
    4. To meet, when the dissertation is completed, to conduct the final oral examination and to satisfy itself that the dissertation is a contribution to knowledge and that it is written in lucid and correct English and submitted in approved form.
  • Register for dissertation research hours

    A student must take a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation research. Not more than 12 hours of research may be taken in a regular semester, nor more than six in a summer session. Full-time registration is required during the semester or summer session in which a candidate defends the thesis or dissertation.

    “IP” denotes an in progress grade given by an instructor for any course (500G, 600, or 700 level) in which a student has made expected or clearly satisfactory progress during the semester, but has yet fully to complete requirements for the course. The “IP” grade is given for 700-level dissertation courses that have not been completed. Upon satisfaction of all Graduate School requirements, the Graduate School’s Assistant Director, Programs, issues final credit for all doctoral dissertation courses (e.g., 710, 720, 730, 735, 740 and 750). Grades in zero-credit courses (e.g., 720 and 750) are changed to “S.” Please note that all “IP”grades must be converted to “S” or “I” at graduation. “IP” grades will also be converted to “I” upon any departure from the University for a period in excess of one year.

  • Maintain regular contact with the dissertation committee regarding status of dissertation

    The candidate is well advised to have a final, acceptable typescript of the dissertation in the hands of each member of his/her committee at a time reasonably in advance of the final defense of the work, at minimum two weeks prior to the defense.

  • Schedule a defense

    A final public oral defense of the dissertation is required. The student needs to get a Defense Notice Form from the Graduate Studies Office to schedule a room for the defense. Graduate programs set the specific requirements and format of the defense. The student should contact the Graduate Studies Office for details.

    The student should check the defense and submission deadlines posted on the Graduate School’s website at for the defense deadline date set for the semester in which they wish to graduate, and defend her/his dissertation by that deadline. It is recommended that students begin the process early in the semester by discussing with their advisors a suitable timetable for meeting this and other deadlines (see below), and that they keep in mind the likelihood that they may have to make revisions to their dissertation after the defense.

  • Follow dissertation guidelines

    It is the duty of the student to acquire a copy of the guidelines for preparing theses and dissertations and to conform to the requirements therein.

    All information pertaining to the formatting and electronic guidelines for electronic thesis and dissertation submission can be found at

  • Submit dissertation draft to Dissertation Editor for review

    The Graduate School encourages students to contact the Dissertation Editor early in the semester at if they have questions regarding any aspect of the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) process.

  • Submit Dissertation Editor-approved dissertation to the Graduate School

    The student must submit a hard copy of his/her final, Dissertation Editor-approved dissertation with all corrections completed to the Graduate School by the last day of exams in the semester he/she wishes to graduate for their clearance to be processed in time.

  • Upload Dissertation Editor-approved PDF to the ETD database

    The student must upload one Dissertation Editor-approved PDF conforming in style to the standards set by the Graduate School to the ETD database on or before the last day of exams in the semester the student wishes to graduate.

    It is recommended that students begin the ETD process early in the semester by discussing with their advisors a suitable timetable for completing the defense of their thesis or dissertation. The Graduate School encourages students to familiarize themselves with the ETD process at if they have questions regarding any aspect of the ETD process.

    All dissertations are published by ProQuest/University Microfilms, Inc.

  • Submit final paper work to the Graduate School

    Each dissertation must be accompanied by one original Certificate of Defense Approval for Doctoral Dissertation signed by all members of the Committee and one original ETD Availability Agreement form signed by the student and Committee Chair. The forms can be downloaded from A copy of the above mentioned forms must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office in order to process your graduation clearance.

Note: No student gains the right to be recommended for the degree simply by fulfilling requirements. This right is reserved to the student’s committee. Changes of committee members must be approved by Graduate Program Director, and sent to the Graduate School.

Dissertation Defense Paperwork

The paperwork required prior to the qualifying exam:

The paperwork required after the qualifying exam:

The paperwork required prior to work on the dissertation:

The paperwork required after the dissertation defense: