Dissertation Requirements

I. Dissertation Prospectus

Students should submit their dissertation prospectus to the AMSC Graduate Committee for approval at least one year before graduation.

The Graduate Committee members reviewing the prospectus may not be experts in the students' subject areas, so the prospectus should outline the background of their research, the work that they have already completed, along with the work they intend to do.

Link to Dissertation guidelines & templates.

II. Applying for Your Diploma

Applications for diplomas should be made at the Registrar's Office early in the term in which the degree is expected to be awarded. The dates are listed in the Graduate School Calendar. The student must apply for his or her diploma within four years of being admitted to candidacy. A student must receive his or her diploma at least one year after being admitted to candidacy.

Before a doctorate student applies for a diploma he or she must have:

  • maintained at least a 3.0 average in all formal coursework
  • passed the Final Oral Examination (Defense)
  • completed a dissertation that is accepted by the Graduate School

III. The Final Oral Examination (Defense)

The Final Oral Examination (Defense) is conducted by a committee appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The student and his or her dissertation advisor must fill out the form Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee. For the exam, this form must be completed three months before the date of the final oral examination. The completed form should be returned to the AMSC office where it will be forwarded to the Graduate School.

IV. Selecting Ph.D. Final Examination Committee Members

  • Minimum of five voting members of the Graduate Faculty, including three Full Members.
  • Chair should be the student's advisor and a Full Member of the Graduate Faculty. Requests for a Co-chair must have prior Graduate School approval.
  • At least one member represents the mathematical basis of the AMSC Program and one the outside area of specialization.
  • Each committee needs a Dean's Representative as a voting or non-voting member. The Dean's Representative must have a research interest related to that of the student. The Dean's Representative must be a tenured member of the Graduate Faculty and must be from another tenure home than the student's primary advisor, or co-advisor(s).
  • Faculty that leave UMD (except Emeriti) are Grad Faculty for one year and are then nominated as Special Members.
  • At least two committee members, including the advisor/chair, should be affiliated with AMSC. AMSC-affiliated faculty are listed here.

V. Scheduling the Final Examination

The major professor who chairs the committee establishes the time and date of the examination. It is his or her responsibility to notify the other members of the committee and the AMSC office. We strongly recommend that the student remind the committee members where the exam is a couple of days before the exam.

Complete copies of the dissertation must be distributed by the candidate to the committee members at least 10 working days prior to the date of the examination.

VI. Function of the Examination Committee

All Final Oral Examinations are open to anyone who is interested. After the examination, the Committee deliberates in private. The decision to accept the examination as satisfactory need not be unanimous, however two or more negative votes constitute a failure of the candidate.

The Examining Committee also approves or disapproves the dissertation for submission to the Graduate School. If the candidate fails the final examination then the dissertation is disapproved. If the candidate passes the final examination then the Committee can either:

  • approve the dissertation without revision
  • approve the dissertation with minor revisions that will be reviewed by only the dissertation advisor
  • approve the dissertation with major revisions that will be reviewed by the entire committee

VII. Repeating the Examination

The candidate may attempt the final oral examination at most twice.