Current Students

Completing Your PhD

Application for Degree

Brandeis University offers three degree dates: February 1, Commencement Day and August 31.  In order to receive your degree, all students must file an Application for Degree form with the Office of the University Registrar by the deadlines specified in the academic calendar.  

Dissertation Process

There are several steps and forms involved in completing the dissertation process. Dissertation formatting guidelines can be found here. Outlined below is some important information about the process:

Checklist for Defense Hearing

Four weeks before the defense date:

  • Provide an electronic copy of your final dissertation to your full dissertation committee and to the PhD Program Office four weeks prior to your defense.  Dissertation hearings may not proceed if the dissertation is not submitted at least four weeks in advance.

 At least three weeks before defense date:

  • Once you have cleared a date with your committee, write letter requesting a dissertation hearing to Diana Bowser, PhD Program Director. Please send the letter as an attachment via email to Director Bowser (dbowser@brandeis.edu) and copy Cheryl Sweeney (csweeney@brandeis.edu). Use the template in the Dissertation Standards and Procedures, Appendix 4, page 15.  Please be sure to modify the heading and first line of the document to specify defense.
  • In this same email you should send your dissertation abstract, approved by your chair. The abstract should be 350 – 500 words, if possible.  Up to 1½ pages is acceptable.  Use this model for your abstract (Dissertation Standards and Procedures, Appendix 3 on page 14).
  • Send Cheryl Sweeney (csweeney@brandeis.edu) and Rosella Carrelli (carrelli@brandeis.edu) the Zoom link to your defense hearing. The program recommends that the Chair host the meeting but that is your decision in consultation with your Chair. If you need assistance with Zoom please contact Media and Technology Services (MTS) at 781-736-4632.  
  • Once your request to hold a hearing has been approved by the PhD Program Director an announcement will be sent via email to the Heller Community. The announcement will include the date and time of your along with a copy of your abstract.  Hearings are open to Heller students, faculty and staff.

Report on PhD Dissertation Defense and Oral Exam

The Report on Doctoral Defense form will be emailed to you and your Chair prior to the hearing. At the end of the hearing, you and the audience will be asked to leave the room.  After deliberating, your committee will make one of these recommendations: 1) approve dissertation; 2) defer action pending minor revisions and chair approval; 3) defer action pending major revisions and full committee hearing; and 4) reject dissertation.  Your Chair will record the committee’s decision and electronically send the form to the committee for their signatures.  Once completed, the form is electronically returned to Cheryl Sweeney for your file.

Report on PhD Revisions

If the dissertation committee requires revisions, an additional form is required.  Your Chair may contact Cheryl Sweeney for the Revisions Form when the final revised copy of the dissertation has been accepted. This form is required when minor or major revisions are requested by the dissertation committee.

Deposit and Publication of Dissertation

The doctoral candidate is responsible for electronically submitting one PDF copy of the approved dissertation by the specified deadline (see Academic Calendar for February, May, and August degree deadlines) to the online ProQuest LLC site. The dissertation will be published on ProQuest after degrees are conferred. The Library will receive a copy for the Library archive, and the student and chairperson will receive a soft-bound copy.

Commencement Ceremony

Each year at the end of March, Doctoral students eligible to participate in the May Commencement Ceremony will receive information regarding Commencement from Assistant Dean Ravi Lakshmikanthan.  It will include information on cap and gown ordering and how to obtain tickets to the main Ceremony. Information about locations, diploma ceremonies, and overall logistics is continually updated on the Commencement website. 

Obtaining Your Diploma

The Registrar’s Office will mail your official diploma to your home if you are not present at the May diploma ceremony or if you graduate in February or August. Therefore, if you move or are not graduating in May, it is very important that your contact information be updated in SAGE.