A Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation) is required for all students in the program. This is a public event and anyone is able attend.

When a student is nearing completion of the body of work recommended or agreed upon by their PI and committee members, the student should begin to formally prepare for the defense. The defense consists of the student’s public presentation of their work, an open question and answer session, and a closed discussion session with only the student and their committee members. 

Students are responsible for scheduling the time and location for the defense when all committee members are available to attend. Before the defense, students should write or assemble their dissertation and distribute it to their PI and committee members at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled defense. The dissertation has no minimum or maximum length, but it should detail all of the work completed for the student’s research project. Often, papers that students have published or manuscripts that students have drafted for submission to journals, can be modified or used as is as chapters in the dissertation. The precise content and length of the dissertation will vary by student, and should be discussed with the student’s PI. Text formatting requirements can be found in the “Thesis and Dissertation Formatting and Filing Guide” provided by the UCLA Graduate Division at this website:  

Students should also prepare a 45-minute to 1-hour presentation reviewing the main research questions investigated, approaches taken, and major results from their thesis work. This presentation is intended to give an overview of the full thesis project, and should be accessible to the public audience attending the defense. Students will demonstrate a more detailed and thorough understanding of his or her work in the dissertation text and during the question and answer sessions following the presentation. After the defense, the student's PI and/or committee members may have comments or edits that must be incorporated into the final draft of the dissertation before it can be filed. Filing is done electronically, and all committee members will receive an email notification to sign off their final approval of the students’ dissertation and defense. No additional hard copy form or signatures from committee members are required at the defense itself. If students are planning to formally complete their degree by filing their dissertation within a specific academic quarter, they should consult the UCLA Graduate Division for specific deadlines and procedures for filing.

Please visit the UCLA Graduate Division website for other helpful information on filing your dissertation and filing deadlines.