Completion of Doctoral Dissertation

The department provides funds for three semesters (18 months) of dissertation write up. In order to qualify for these funds, the student must have begun collection of the main body of dissertation data by mid-January of the fifth chronological year in the graduate program. Students may still complete their degree even if they forfeit post-field funding, as long as they comply with Emory Graduate School’s time limits for degree completion. The Graduate School requires that all requirements for the Ph.D., including submission of the dissertation, be completed within eight years of admission to Advanced Standing. (See Graduate School Handbook.)

The doctoral dissertation defense and presentation consists of two parts:

  1. a public presentation of the dissertation research;
  2. an oral defense of the dissertation in front of the student’s doctoral dissertation committee. The oral defense cannot take place until the public presentation has been completed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Emory faculty members hold 9-month appointments. Therefore no part of the dissertation process (including review, presentation, and defense) may be scheduled during the summer (May 15-Sept. 1).

Working closely with her/his committee chair, a student ready to present their dissertation must provide all committee members a complete, polished draft of the dissertation at least 4-6 weeks prior to the time they expect feedback. The committee Chair will then discuss the issues with other members of the committee. It is the responsibility/prerogative of the committee Chair, not the student, to schedule the public defense with the Graduate Coordinator. Students must be registered in the semester in which they defend their dissertation and receive their degree. Graduate Residence satisfies this requirement.

Dissertation Presentation

  • The public presentation may not take place later than April 15 for graduation in Spring or Summer semesters.
  • A 1-2 page abstract of the dissertation must be circulated to all anthropology faculty and graduate students, two weeks before the presentation.
  • The presentation is a talk at least 30 minutes but not more than 45 minutes open to all anthropology faculty and students, followed by a scheduled time of at least 45 minutes for questions and candidate response. The event provides an important opportunity for the candidate to present his/her work in a format similar to a “job talk” presentation.
  • The faculty as a whole does not vote on the acceptability of candidate’s presentation and responses, but the results of the presentation may be taken into account by the committee in their later deliberations concerning the acceptability of the dissertation. Faculty at large may approach or write letters to the doctoral committee to express their views.

Dissertation Defense

  • Defense must take place within one month following the public presentation of the dissertation (unless a waiver due to extreme circumstances is granted by the Director of Graduate Studies).
  • All Ph.D. candidates must be physically present to present their oral defense in front of the doctoral committee.
  • Final copies of all chapters, notes, references, and other materials to be contained in the dissertation must be provided in their entirety to dissertation committee members no later than three weeks prior to the oral defense.
  • The oral defense is attended only by the members of the student’s committee (except by special arrangement and the permission of both the student and his/her advisor).
  • At least three Emory graduate faculty must be present, including two regular Anthropology faculty; no exceptions to this policy can be entertained. In the rare instance that a regular faculty member on the student’s committee can not be present, the absent committee member must designate a substitute who is also a regular member of the Anthropology Department to replace him/her for the purposes of the defense. Prior to the defense, the absent member must supply (a) comments on the written version of the thesis and (b) questions that will be asked at the defense on his/her behalf by the replacement.
  • In order for the oral dissertation defense to be considered acceptable, two regular department members (including at least one who has previously been on the committee) must sign that the defense was passed successfully. In addition, all committee members must individually sign that the written dissertation is acceptable.

After the defense, the written dissertation and its oral defense will each be evaluated pass, conditional pass, or fail.

  • A “pass” rating will mean that changes recommended by the faculty would be made at the student’s discretion.
  • A conditional “pass” will require that certain changes in the dissertation be made and approved by the student’s committee before the degree can be granted.
  • Students whose dissertations are rated “fail” will be informed by the committee whether a subsequent re-submission will be entertained.

Each member of the committee will sign off that the thesis is acceptable before recommendation for granting the Ph.D. degree can be made.

Upon successful completion of the dissertation defense (or completion of approved changes after a conditional pass), students must file a degree application and complete a Report of Completion of Requirements for Doctoral Degree form and submit appropriate copies with the Graduate School and the department by the deadline listed in the Graduate School bulletin.