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Dissertation Defense

Things to Consider Before You Defend

  • Have you completed your coursework and do you have at least a 3.0 GPA? Additional requirements met (RP's), if applicable? You may consider requesting N grades be changed to letter grades. This can be done with the Student Services Manager.
  • Find a Chair for your Oral Defense Committee. This must be a faculty member outside of the Chemistry Department. It can be a Professor Emeritus outside of chemistry or a Courtesy Professor as long as they don't have a joint appointment (e.g., like Chaitan Khosla). If you need help with this, ask your advisor for assistance. The Chair is doing you a favor, be sure to extend courtesy to him/her (e.g., a thank you note).
  • You will need to set-up a time for your defense and reserve a room with the chemistry receptionist 3-2501, e.g., the Gazebo or Sapp Center. You must be registered the quarter you defend at the 10 unit or more likely TGR rate tuition. You have until the last Friday prior to the first week of classes of the next quarter to defend.
  • Complete the Oral Examination form. This form must be signed by the Chair of the Graduate Study Committee, Professor Solomon. Roger will obtain his signature for you. Along with the orals form, submit a one or two-page abstract at least a week prior to your defense date. Let the External Relations group ( know about your defense early so they can publicize it in This Week in Chemistry. Roger will distribute copies of your oral form and abstract to members of your oral committee. The original will be sent to the chair of your orals committee in a special folder. However, it is your responsibility to let your committee know when and where your defense will be held.
  • Apply to graduate. Go into Axess and indicate the quarter you want your degree conferred (i.e., the quarter you submit your dissertation). If you do not submit your dissertation by the deadline during the quarter you defend, then you must apply for a Graduation Quarter (i.e., a grace quarter). Keep in mind, you must have valid candidacy until the end of the term in which you submit your dissertation (e.g., if you defend during summer and use your Graduation Quarter to submit during autumn quarter, you must have valid candidacy through January). See Axess or Directions for Preparing Doctoral Dissertations for specific deadline dates.
  • If you use the Graduation Quarter to submit your thesis/dissertation, then you must complete the Petition for Graduation Quarter form. The prerequisites for designating a term as the graduation quarter are:
    • The student has enrolled in the term immediately preceding the term chosen as the Graduation Quarter.
    • The student has formally applied to graduate, and the designated quarter of graduation is the Graduation Quarter.
    • The student has only to submit the dissertation or thesis or project by the deadline for submission in the term designated as the Graduation Quarter.
    • All course work, degree requirements, and residency requirements have been completed.
    • A graduate student must have passed the oral examinations and successfully defended the dissertation/thesis. The graduate student has only to submit the dissertation by the deadline for submission in the term designated as the Graduation Quarter.

Students on Graduation Quarter are registered at Stanford and, therefore, have the rights and privileges of registered students. There is a registration fee of $150 (tuition) for the Graduation Quarter; student will be assessed University health insurance (unless waived), campus health services fee, and ASSU fees (except during summer). Only one Graduation Quarter may be requested for each degree program. Students who, for whatever reason, are not graduated during the Graduation Quarter will be assessed a higher, Stanford tuition rate in subsequent terms.

  • Please give a draft of your dissertation to your reading committee at least two weeks prior to your defense. Be mindful of faculty travel schedules, especially when looking for your readers to sign off on your dissertation!
  • The Academic Calendar has many useful deadlines including the quarterly deadline to apply to graduate and the dissertation submission deadline.
  • If you have CardinalCare, it is for the entire academic year regardless of the quarters you are enrolled. If you leave before the end of the academic year, you will be charged for CardinalCare unless you waive it. Contact Vaden Health Center if you have other arrangements for health insurance (e.g., from your new employer).
  • Keep your address up-to-date in Axess because diplomas may be mailed to the last address given. Also, indicate in Axess whether or not you will participate in the department commencement exercises. You will receive a degree in chemistry; no subspecialty will appear on your diploma. If you want to assure that your name is in the University commencement program, then the Axess deadline is usually the third week of February.
  • Let Roger know your forwarding address, include job information. Please send this information via e-mail to or complete the Exit form.
  • If you need a letter certifying completion of your Ph.D. Degree, then submit a ticket to the Registrar. Tell them what you need and give an address where the letter needs to be mailed. This letter can only be obtained after you have submitted your dissertation.
  • Submit your dissertation electronically to the Registrar's Office. (See steps below.) There are two critical issues you need to be aware of:
  1. The electronic version is put on the internet soon after submission. This can be a huge problem for time-sensitive material and future publications. To protect your science and to permit future work to be published in a journal, you and your advisor must agree on an appropriate embargo period, up to two years. As part of the submission process, you declare via Axess your embargo period.
  2. Your advisor will not get a hard copy of your dissertation. Ask if she/he would like a copy. If yes, then you need to get one bound at a private printer or at binding and finishing in Meyer library.

Useful Websites

Submitting Your Dissertation

See the Registrar’s Office website for all dissertation information:

The following steps are required, in order, to complete the dissertation submission process:

  1. Go to the e-dissertation/thesis center in Axess (see the Registrar’s website for instructions).

  2. Select your final reader.  They will need to log in to Axess and approve your dissertation before the deadline once you’ve uploaded your dissertation.

  3. Turn in your signed signature page and title page to the Student Services Center at Tresidder (see the guidelines PDF for formatting instructions).  Signatures must be actual ink signatures on acid-free paper.
    **Only your reading committee should be included on your signature page. Do NOT include your defense chair or any commitee members only present for the defense.

  4. Upload/Submit dissertation.

Here a video that walks through the upload process:

Guidelines for formatting and more are available at: