Doctoral Degree Completion

Final Oral Examination:

This exam involves a defense of the dissertation and may also cover the general field of both the major and minor studies. Early in the semester or summer in which students intend to complete the Ph.D. degree, they need to prepare a final version of the dissertation and plan for the dissertation defense, or final oral exam.

General Graduate School guidelines can be found on the Graduate School’s Web page titled “Guide to Preparing Your Doctoral Dissertation”. Information about formatting and depositing the dissertation can be found by scrolling down the “Guide” page to “Formatting Requirements.”  The dissertation must conform to these standards.

Deadlines that students must meet are available here.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

A student’s program may appeal these time limits through a written request to the Graduate School Degree Coordinator. The appeal should provide information demonstrating that the student has remained current in the field of study. This information may include a resume showing applicable work experience and/or official transcripts from other schools attended.

Doctoral Degree Requirement Checklist

Procedures for Arranging the Ph.D. Oral Examination:

  1. The student communicates with committee members (the faculty advisor who chairs the committee, the two Sociology and/or Community & Environmental Sociology faculty members, the UW-Madison faculty member from the “outside” department, and the fifth member) and arranges a date and time for the two-hour final oral exam.
  2. The student gives the graduate program advisor the information required to submit a final warrant request and reserve a room for the exam:
    • the student’s campus ID number
    •  the minor area of study
    • the date and time of the final oral exam
    • the dissertation title
    • the names of the five committee members and their institutional affiliation and rank
    • Note: the student must be registered for three credits or have permission to pay the degree completion fee in order to obtain approval for the warrant.)
  3. The graduate program advisor submits an online final warrant request to the Graduate School’s doctoral degree coordinator, asks the Sociology Department’s faculty services specialist to reserve a room for the exam, and notifies the student of the location. (Note: warrant requests must be made three weeks prior to the oral exam.)
  4. The Graduate School’s doctoral degree coordinator approves the warrant request and sends the warrant to the graduate program advisor via e-mail.
  5. The student writes an abstract for the dissertation, submits it to the faculty advisor for approval, and then e-mails it to the graduate program advisor. (Note: the graduate program advisor must receive the abstract at least two business days before the oral exam.)
  6. The graduate program advisor prepares an announcement of the student’s final oral exam, posts it on the department bulletin board, and circulates it via e-mail to Sociology and Community & Environmental Sociology faculty and students.
  7. The graduate program advisor gives the final warrant to the student’s faculty advisor.
  8. The student takes the final oral exam. (Note: this exam typically lasts for roughly two hours; questions may cover the general field of the major and minor studies as well as the dissertation.)
  9. The five committee members decide (a) whether the student passed the exam and (b) if so, whether the dissertation requires revisions. They then sign the final warrant and return it to the graduate program advisor. (Note:  At times, the warrant will be returned unsigned, or signed by all members but the faculty advisor, and held in the student’s file until revisions are approved.)
  10. If necessary, the student makes required revisions to the dissertation and formats the final document, conforming to the guidelines posted on the Graduate School website.
  11. The student confers with Steve Martin to discuss the ideal date for ending student status and UW employment.  (Depositing a dissertation has a ripple effect: it determines when a degree is conferred, when a student receives the last paycheck, and how long health benefits will continue.)
  12. The graduate program advisor makes a copy of the signed warrant for the student’s file and gives the original to the student to upload when the dissertation is deposited.
  13. The student pays the $90 dissertation deposit fee, completes the two doctoral exit surveys, and submits the dissertation electronically to the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator website.
  14.  The student completes and submits an exit form when leaving the program.
  15. Optional: a student who wishes to confirm in person or via Skype that the dissertation submission has been accepted and all degree requirements have been met may meet for a ten-minute final review with the Graduate School’s doctoral degree coordinator.
  16. The Graduate School staff notifies the Registrar’s staff that the student has fulfilled all requirements for the Ph.D. degree
  17. The Registrar posts the student’s degree. Note: This occurs approximately four to six weeks after the end of the semester.