Step 10: Dissertation Defense


  • To achieve the capstone event of the DPCES by defending your dissertation successfully to your committee.


  • Request approval from your committee chair via email to set date for your dissertation defense.
  • Inform the Student Services Coordinator, Ann Marie Hohman, of the date, time and location.
  • If defending your dissertation on campus, inform the Student Services Coordinator of all equipment need to present defense (e.g., data projector, laptop computer); attempt to reserve technology-enhanced room.
  • Complete a dissertation defense announcement.
  • Defend dissertation per directions in Dissertation Handbook.
  • Committee makes recommendation based on elements on the Dissertation Defense Competency Review form.
  • Upon approval of dissertation, present official signature page to committee for signatures.
  • Submit 15-20 page abridgment of dissertation immediately after defense.


Due Dates:

  • Defend by March 31 if you plan to graduate this spring
  • As soon as possible after receiving approval from committee and Program Director, contact Administrative Secretary to reserve room, date and time.
  • Once defense date is set, at least 4 weeks prior to the defense, submit electronic copies of dissertation manuscript to committee.
  • Two weeks before defense, submit defense announcement electronically to the Student Services Coordinator.

John's Experience:

John contacts the Administrative Secretary and reserves a technology-enhanced room for his dissertation defense. He also emails her his defense brochure.

On the day of his defense, John arrives on time and ready, having already set up his equipment. Although he's nervous, John has prepared several summary sheets for quick reference and has practiced his defense several times for his wife, pastor, and coworker. He gives a thorough and well-organized presentation to his committee and then answers their questions succinctly and completely. At the end, his dissertation is approved with minor changes suggested. The committee signs his title page and John turns in his abridgement. John can hardly believe he's accomplished this incredible feat! He thanks God for His constant presence with his during the task, and takes his family out for steak to celebrate.

Watch as John demonstrates a successful dissertation defense. View high bandwidth | low bandwidth.

Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Don't expect your committee to take the lead during your defense; have a plan or outline that you follow.
  • Don't be disorganized; have summary sheets with you for easy reference when asked questions.
  • Don't forget to practice your defense; walk through your 30 minute presentation several times so you can anticipate what you will say and do.
  • Don't assume you know your dissertation well enough to abbreviate preparation for defense; read your dissertation several times, anticipate questions and practice responses.
  • Don't approach defense casually; dress and act professionally.