Printed on: 05/26/2017. Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.


Doctoral Degree: Completion

Responsible University Officer(s):

  • Executive Vice President and Provost

Policy Owner(s):

  • Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education

Policy contact(s):

Date Revised:

July 2012

Effective Date:

July 2012


Students are responsible for meeting all requirements for completing the doctoral degree, including dissertation defense and submission.

  1. The Doctoral Final Oral Examination
    1. The doctoral final oral committee must consist of at least four members, including the advisor(s). All members of the committee and the candidate must participate in the final oral examination. Committee members and/or the student may participate remotely as long as all conditions for remote participation in the examination are met.
      1. At least three members (including the advisor) must be from the student's major field.
      2. At least one member must represent a field outside the major. (If the student has declared a minor, the outside member, or one of the outside members, must represent the minor field.)
      3. Members cannot satisfy the requirement with respect to more than one field.
    2. Thesis Reviewers for final oral examination:
      1. A minimum of 2 major field reviewers and 1 minor/outside reviewer are required. In the case of multiple minors, there must be a reviewer for each minor.  
      2. Advisor(s) must serve as reviewers.
      3. Students must provide reviewers with a copy of the dissertation at least 14 days before the scheduled date of the doctoral final oral examination.
      4. Every designated reviewer on the doctoral dissertation reviewer’s report must certify that the dissertation is ready for defense before the doctoral final oral examination may take place.
    3. The doctoral final oral examination must include:
      1. A public presentation of the candidate’s dissertation to the doctoral final oral examination committee and the invited scholarly community.
      2. A closed session (open only to the doctoral final oral examination committee and the candidate) immediately following the public presentation. 
    4. To be recommended for the award of the doctoral degree, all committee members, or all committee members save one, must certify that the student has passed the doctoral final oral examination. 
    5. Students are not allowed to retake the final oral examination.
  2. Submission of final copy of the doctoral dissertation

    All students who complete a doctoral dissertation must file a digital copy of the dissertation with the University in accordance with University standards.  Students may request that the University embargo publication of the dissertation for a limited period of time.

  3. Reactivation in order to graduate

    A student who is currently inactive may be reactivated for the purpose of awarding the degree if the student has completed all requirements for the degree, including submission of the approved copy of the doctoral dissertation.


Doctoral programs with approved completion requirements that do not include a final oral examination are exempt from I.

Doctoral programs with approved completion requirements that do not include a doctoral dissertation are exempt from II.

Effective Date

This policy applies to all students admitted after January 1, 2013.  Students who matriculated before January 1, 2013 may choose to continue under the policies in effect when they initially matriculated in their graduate program.

This policy does not apply to first professional degrees.  (The first professional degrees are the J.D., M.D., Pharm.D., D.V.M., D.D.S, and L.L.M. degrees.)


This policy establishes uniform standards for the doctoral final oral examination; defines timely submission of copies of the dissertation for University archives, and supports Board of Regents Policy: Openness in Research which covers public dissemination of University-sponsored research.






Primary Contact(s)
University of Minnesota - Duluth
Erik Brown
University of Minnesota - Rochester


There are no definitions associated with this policy.


Graduate School
  • Provide guidelines for formatting and submitting the dissertation, to include not only current instructions for electronic formatting and filing but also guidelines governing the use of already published material in the dissertation. Guidelines should take account of possible copyright issues.
Collegiate Units
  • Approve and archive in the system of record committee membership (including any subsequent changes to an approved committee). Changes in committee membership must also be approved by the program DGS.
  • Approve and record the specific procedures used by programs for administering and grading the doctoral preliminary and final examinations.
  • Maintain and publish any additional collegiate-level publishing standards or guidelines (e.g., stylistic conventions based on discipline, language of the thesis).
  • Provide program-specific information in the graduate handbook
  • Maintain and publish any additional program-level publishing standards or guidelines (e.g., stylistic conventions based on discipline, language of the thesis).
  • Review and approve any changes in committee membership; route program-approved requests to the collegiate unit for approval and archiving.



July 2012 - New Policy, Comprehensive Review. 1. Establishes guidelines for remote participation in graduate milestone examination. 2. Specifies the University as the digital archive of record for deposit of dissertations. 3. Facilitates reactivation of students who have completed all other degree requirements so that their degree may be conferred. 4. Extends applicability of policy requirements to programs not formerly under the aegis of the Graduate School.
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