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BioPh.D. Handbook | Degree Requirements - The Dissertation and Defense

Bioengineering Ph.D.
For the 2018 - 2019 Academic Year
Printable pdf version.


D. The Dissertation and Defense

After the completion of research, you will prepare and defend a written dissertation. The dissertation is the traditional form of documenting your ability to perform, write, and present scholarly research. The contents of the dissertation should be deemed suitable for publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

Written Dissertation

This is a thorough compendium of your research and scholarship at Notre Dame. The contents of the dissertation vary between subfields, and you should consult with your advisor regarding the overall format and style. In addition, the graduate school has specific formatting and style requirements that you must meet.

When your dissertation advisor(s) is/are satisfied that the dissertation is in suitable form, and has the appropriate content, they will sign a distribution form, releasing it for distribution to the examination committee. You must deliver the signed form to the programs’s graduate administrative assistant, who will then issue the Ph.D. reader’s card. It is your responsibility to deliver the required copies of the dissertation along with the appropriate reader’s card to their readers, and to collect and return the signed readers cards to the administrative assistant.

The dissertation defense may not be scheduled sooner than four weeks from the date the graduate studies administrative assistant receives the dissertation distribution form. It is expected that during this time each reader will carefully read the dissertation and meet with the candidate to discuss suggested or necessary changes to be made before the oral defense. The oral examination will not be scheduled until all the Ph.D. reader's cards have been signed and returned to the graduate studies administrative assistant. Only a dissertation unanimously and unconditionally approved by the readers may be defended.

Defense of the Dissertation

The purpose of the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense is to explore the originality and significance of the candidate's dissertation. It is your responsibility to determine a mutually agreeable time for the defense. The scheduled date and time, accompanied with the readers' cards, are returned to the Graduate School at least 5 business days, excluding holidays, prior to the defense of the dissertation.

You are responsible for reserving a room for the defense and ensuring that the necessary audio-visual equipment is available. Assistance in scheduling and locating equipment can be obtained from administrative staff.

The final dissertation defense is public. The candidate should post the time and place one week in advance of the defense. Your research advisor will act as the chair and moderator.

The examination begins with a summary presentation of thirty to forty minutes. You will be expected to present your research and place it in the context of the existing literature in the field, including the relevance of the work to a specific problem in bioengineering. After the presentation, the public audience may ask questions.

The presentation is followed by the closed oral examination. The committee members will question you in private, for a period of up to 120 minutes. If questioning exceeds 90 minutes, you should be offered, or may request a short break.

Following questioning, you will be excused, and your committee members will deliberate and case official votes. The majority of members of the committee must vote pass in order or you to pass the examination. The individual votes will be recorded on the examination report form. You must return the voting form to the graduate school.

Failure of the defense does not necessarily require rewriting the dissertation. In the case of a failure, the student may be allowed a second opportunity to present a defense of their work based upon the recommendation of a majority of the candidacy examination committee members, the department chair and the approval of the Graduate School. Failure in the second defense terminates the candidate's eligibility for a doctorate at the University.

Publication of the Dissertation

The dissertation serves as the scholarly record of the student’s doctoral research, and should be published and disseminated. In addition to publications in the peer-reviewed literature, the graduate school publishes your dissertation in its entirety. The final version of the dissertation must conform to the requirements as outlined on the Graduate School's webpage:  http://graduateschool.nd.edu/resources-for-current-students/dt/

Your dissertation must be checked for format conformity by the Graduate School before its final submission.

After the oral defense and approval by the Graduate School, you must upload a clear, print-quality PDF version of the complete dissertation to the Library’s electronic submission website at http://etd.nd.edu. Note that the PDF upload requires the advisor-signed title page. The Library system allows students to have control over the electronic release of their dissertation so as to protect their intellectual property where appropriate.

It is the responsibility of the individual advisors and graduate students to support the cost, produce and distribute any bound copies of the student’s dissertation. Any questions regarding Graduate School dissertation rules should be submitted the Graduate School.