Carnegie Mellon University

Thesis & defense

Once a student has completed all the research that was agreed upon at the Ph.D. prospectus meeting, the student must write a Ph.D. thesis and orally defend it.

ECE adheres to CIT's policy on PhD completion timelines. The CIT policy is as follows: "Passing the Ph.D. qualifying examination admits a student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree for a period of no longer than six calendar years. If, at the end of this six-year period, the Ph.D. has not been awarded, the student must reapply for admission to the graduate program and will be judged competitively with other students applying at the same time." Students wishing to obtain an extension due to special circumstances must to submit a formal petition at least one semester prior to his or her defense timeline expiring.

Once the Ph.D. thesis is written, the student must the Defense Declaration form to the Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Office at least two weeks before the students' defense date. The Thesis Committee is usually the same as the Prospectus Committee. If there is any change in the committee, the student must submit a one-page biographical description of any new committee member from outside Carnegie Mellon for approval. Additionally, students are expected to adhere to Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) guidelines on providing defense committees with a copy of the thesis prior to the defense. CIT recommends that students provide their committee with a copy of the thesis at least one and a half months prior to the defense.

The oral defense is a public examination open to all members of the Carnegie Mellon community. All four of the members of the Prospectus Committee must actively participate in the defense meeting. It is desirable to have all committee members participate in person; however, a student is allowed to have one committee member of four participate by teleconferencing. Any deviation from this teleconferencing policy is exceptional and must be petitioned for approval from the Department via the Final Defense Declaration Form

In addition to these ECE requirements, CIT has its own requirements pertaining to the thesis and defense process. This site includes instructions for the document standards and format. Students should pay particular attention to the format of the thesis title page and the required content of the acknowledgements section.

Students will not be eligible to participate in any Commencement ceremonies until their degree has been formally certified by the ECE Department.