Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Ph.D. Defense & Graduation

ready to defend?

At least 30 days in advance of  your preferred defense date, you can email Eileen Hamel, Graduate Program Manager, to verify you have met all of your milestones. She will reserve a room** for you on the date agreed upon by you and your committee. Your title and abstract must be submitted in order for CICS to announce the event on the CICS events calendar. The Graduate School will make the formal announcement to the University's Graduate Faculty.

**2020 Update: Due to the COVID-19 restrictions the graduate school is permitting virtual defenses. Please see the graduate school website for updates to this policy. 

Your title and abstract must be submitted in order for CICS to announce the event on the CICS events calendar. The Graduate School will make the formal announcement to the University's Graduate Faculty.

You should allow sufficient time for your committee to read and prepare comments on your dissertation.  Three weeks is recommended. Please determine an appropriate deadline with your advisor to accommodate the schedules of all committee members

dissertation defense

In Computer Science, the defense has two components: a defense and a public presentation.  If you combine them, you have an "open defense"; if you do not, you have a "closed defense".  Which you choose must be agreed upon by both you and your committee.  Some faculty members have very strong opinions one way or another.  In either case, there are two components to a defense:

  1. A public seminar that any member of the University community is invited to attend.
  2. An interaction between you and your committee, during which they deliberate and decide whether you have successfully defended your dissertation and whether they will insist on any modifications to your dissertation.  All members of your committee must be present on the Amherst campus for this portion of the defense.

In an open defense, the public seminar is attended by your committee who continue the defense after the public audience is excused.  In a closed defense, you and your committee meet privately and you hold a public seminar sometime in the few days surrounding that meeting.

Note that by the rules of the Graduate School any member of the University's Graduate Faculty may attend the meeting between you and your committee.  For that reason the time of that meeting is announced publicly well in advance of your defense.  Courtesy suggests that individuals hoping to attend the meeting consult the chair of your committee.

In both cases, the committee may pass or fail your oral examination.  (It is extraordinarily rare for someone to fail a defense.)  Your chair will inform the Graduate Programs Manager of the result of the defense. 

At the defense, the committee will also usually specify changes or additions that it requires to the dissertation itself.  After all members are satisfied with the dissertation, they will sign the dissertation's cover sheet.  Please bring this signature page that is formatted according to the Graduate School guidelines to the defense.  All committee members must sign the page in ink unless someone was not physically present at the defense. Anyone not present should sign the page electronically prior to any other signatures in ink.

2020 Update: All signature pages can be signed electronically by all committee members. Submit your signed page to Eileen at ehamel@cs.umass.edu for the Chair's signature and submission to the Graduate School.

Graduation deadlines

The University of Massachusetts Amherst awards graduate degrees in February, May, and September. Please review the Graduate School Doctoral Degree checklist for completion of all requirements and deadlines. Here are upcoming deadlines for graduation:

  • February 1, 2022 degree: January 10, 2022 (December 20, 2021 to department)
  • May 13, 2022 degree: April 13, 2022 (March 30, 2022 to department)

May is the only graduation date that students "walk". Students graduating in September, February and May are invited to "walk" at the May graduation ceremonies.

In addition to uploading your thesis to the Grad School, we also ask that you upload a .pdf file of your thesis to our publication DB, make sure you change the publication type to "Thesis".