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Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences

Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences

FAQ - Completing the Program: The End

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(1) What is the thesis defense?

The thesis defense is a rite of passage.  It should be scheduled at a time when your thesis is written and close to its final state, at a time when all your Thesis Committee members have provided feedback that you’ve already satisfactorily addressed.  It’s an opportunity for you to present your research to a public audience (typically department faculty, students, and guests), to show off your accomplishments, and fulfill one of the obligations of scholarship – communicating your research.  The presentation typically lasts 45 minutes or so and includes time for those in attendance to ask questions.  After this public portion, you and your Thesis Committee meet to discuss the content of the thesis – it’s a formal occasion to get your entire committee together to determine what work still remains before the thesis can be signed.  This second part can be intimidating.  However, if you’ve been involving all your committee members in your work and your writing along the way, and if you’ve already addressed their concerns, nothing surprising should happen during the committee portion of your defense.  In most situations, students just require a few more days of editing or additional writing after the defense.

We recommend you attend all the thesis defenses of the students that come before you.  That will give you an appreciation of the process and the quality of the work our students are producing.

The thesis defense must occur during the semester (fall, spring, or summer) no later than one week prior to the last day of classes (and not during final’s week or during breaks) and must be publically announced, through email and flyers, at least two weeks in advance.  Scheduling the event must be done cooperatively with your Thesis Committee; each member must be available and each member must agree the scheduling is timely given your progress.

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(2) What are the graduation requirements?

The requirements for graduation are detailed for the MS program at and for the MA program at  

Beyond completing the necessary courses, a student must successfully write, defend, and submit their thesis (see above) and apply to graduate through CAS Advising early in the semester they intend to finish (see above).