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Dissertation Defense
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description

4th year

The dissertation defense consists of two phases: the pre-defense and final public defense.

Pre-Defense: Once the Doctoral Candidate has completed the dissertation, the supervisor has judged that it is ready for pre-defense, and all committee members have sent a confirmation email to the program coordinator that the pre-defense can be scheduled; the student gives an oral presentation of the dissertation (in max. ½ hour) to his/her Dissertation Committee members, who then raise questions and make comments with the intent of assessing and strengthening the preparedness of the student for a final public defense. The Dissertation Committee then recommends that the student:
1) proceeds to a public final defense without changes to their dissertation; OR
2) proceeds to a public final defense with minor or major amendments; OR
3) prepares for a second pre-defense after significant revisions to the dissertation are made and approved by the supervisor. A student may not pre-defend their dissertation more than twice and consequently will be unenrolled from the Program.

Final Public Defense: Before a final public defense is confirmed, one external and one internal member of the student’s Dissertation Committee (preferably not the Supervisor) must indicate in writing whether the dissertation can be submitted for defense. These written statements should be sent to the supervisor and the Chair of the defense and may be sent to the student.

For the final public defense, the candidate makes an oral presentation of the dissertation (max. ½ hour) before their Dissertation Committee, a chair (usually from another CEU department), and a designated opponent, who should be an expert in the field who has not previously reviewed and advised on the dissertation, and others from the public. The opponent is required to provide the Chair, the candidate and their Dissertation Committee members written comments and questions regarding the dissertation in advance of the defense, to which the candidate must respond during the defense. The candidate should also field any questions and comments that may be offered by their Dissertation Committee members and others in attendance.

Learning Outcomes

After completing the defense, the student will be able to:

  • Present a complex problem and research findings to an interdisciplinary audience;
  • Demonstrate that the research was conducted and analyzed using appropriate theory and methods;
  • Respond to comments, questions and critiques from experts in the field.

At the end of the defense, the Dissertation Committee, the Chair, and the Opponent meet privately to discuss whether the dissertation can be accepted for a doctoral degree, and if so what grade should be conferred on it (the available options being: summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude, rite). The Dissertation Committee decides by consensus (or if consensus is not forthcoming, by voting) on the final grade.

According to the CEU PU Doctoral Regulations, to satisfy the degree requirements, the dissertation must make a significant and original contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the subject and must demonstrate the capacity of the candidate to carry out independent quality research. Members of the Dissertation Committee assess how well:

  • the dissertation makes a significant contribution to the knowledge and to the understanding of the subject with which it deals;
  • the dissertation demonstrates the candidates’ capacity to carry out quality independent research; 
  • the dissertation contains material worthy for publication; and
  • knowledge of the state of the art in the specific subject.
Course Level
Course Open to
Students on-site
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