Prelim, Defense, & Graduation

Scheduling the Final Defense

Upon completion of your research project, you will defend your research. You must register for classes during the semester in which you plan to defend. If you are NOT supported on an RA or a TA/RA during the time you will defend, then at minimum, register for one credit of CH 899 (699 MS) in the Fall and/or the Spring. If you are on an active RA or TA/RA when you defend, then you must abide by GSSP regulations and register for 3-5 credits of CH 899 or else you will lose your funding. If you are defending in the SUMMER, then you must register for one hour of CH 896 (696 MS), which is the 10-week course that starts in SUMMER I. Your existing enrollment counts if you’re defending by the Grad School’s NO REGISTRATION DEADLINEAt least ONE TO TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE, reserve a two-hour block no earlier than 9:00 AM for morning exams, or between 1:00 and 3:00 for afternoon exams in DAB 210, DAB 321 (which has no existing LCD projector but one is available in the stock room) or another available room once your committee has agreed on a date and time. Contact Katie Elliott ( to reserve DAB 210, COX 306, COX 400 (note that the COX rooms belong to the College of Sciences, and they can make changes at their discretion), or the PIII conference room. You may also contact Wendy Bunce ( for PIII. Make your room reservation well in advance, preferably BEFORE you turn in the Exam Request Form required by the Grad School.

NOTE: All available conference rooms are in high demand during the Fall semester and we will not honor last minute reservations, so finalize your exam time and date as early as possible or you face having to present in an undesirable room or having to reschedule.

Turn in your completed Request to Schedule Doctoral Oral Examination or Request to Schedule Master’s Oral Examination form no later than three weeks prior (15 working days, M-F) to your exam date. The form itself states a two-week window, but we prefer three weeks for problem resolution. We will not process forms received fewer than two weeks (10 working days) prior to your scheduled exam date due to Grad School regulations. If you forget to turn in your form, you will have to reschedule — NO EXCEPTIONS. Committee members do not need to sign the Exam Request Form, but the Grad Director (currently David Shultz) does need to sign. You will receive confirmation of your exam in your mailbox sometime after we submit the paperwork to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will send your actual exam forms to the Grad Office. Your committee will sign off on those forms on the day of your exam. Please return your final exam forms immediately after your defense regardless of the final decision or corrections you need to make. Make sure your entire committee electronically approves your final version of the thesis/dissertation. If they do not, you will not graduate.

If your committee has changed, or will change, you must formally replace/delete them using the Committee Modification Form. Turn in the Committee Modification Form before or when you turn in your Exam Request Form. This does not apply to the Graduate School Representative unless one of your committee members serves a dual role. If your advisor has left the university, your advisor must become a co-advisor and you must ask one of your committee members to serve as a co-advisor. You will need to use a Committee Modification Form to make this change official.

The Grad Office typically emails the entire department announcing your final defense the day prior (or the Friday prior for Monday exams) to your exam. Make sure the Grad Office has your correct title, and if possible, also include an abstract. If you do not want your exam announced due to any reason, please inform the Grad Office in advance. Your scheduled exam will also be added to the Chemistry Events Calendar.

The Graduate School Representative

If you are defending a PhD and had a GSR (see your committee information in the Grad Student Tracker or as listed on your POW in MyPack Portal under MyPack Portal > Student Self Service > Academic Records > Graduate Plan of Work), contact that professor when you begin scheduling your defense because he/she must attend your final defense. If your GSR has retired or has left the campus, let the Grad Office know and the Grad School will assign a new person. If your GSR is still an active NCSU faculty member and simply cannot attend, ask if he/she can recommend a colleague as replacement. The GSR must be a graduate faculty member from any department on campus other than Chemistry. If you still can’t get a replacement, ask your classmates for who their GSRs are or consult with your advisor for help finding a colleague to fulfill that role. For a complete listing of approved faculty, see the Graduate School’s Graduate Faculty Listing page and feel free to randomly pick someone and contact him/her.

In the event that your GSR cannot make it to your scheduled exam, please have that person contact the Graduate Office. If your GSR does not arrive to your exam, your exam should be put on hold or rescheduled. Please contact the Grad Office immediately in such cases.


NOTE: Please limit the amount of beverages you bring into any of our conference rooms and clean them after your event. Rooms that are not cleaned after used by students will no longer be available for ANY student meetings or oral exams of any kind.

Students customarily provide a small amount of refreshments themselves for prelims. The Department does not provide any food or drinks, but you can bring pre-brewed coffee from places like Whole Foods (they need 24-48 hr. advance notice), Starbucks, Cup-O-Joe, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick-fil-A, etc. The travel coffee containers usually hold 12, 8-oz cups, include cups and other fixings, and typically cost $12-$30. Other types of refreshments are your responsibility.  Plan to prepare at least thirty minutes in advance of your defense, unless there is something scheduled before your talk then you need to plan accordingly. Ask your lab mates to help you set up, but if you ask us in advance we can help you. If you’re on Centennial Campus and will have your exam in Partners III, contact Emily Milks ( and make arrangements with your lab mates to help you. Clean up whichever room you use and leave it as you found it. Not cleaning up rooms will result in fewer locations available to student presentations of any kind, resulting in scheduling difficulties for you.

The Final Defense

At least two-three weeks prior to your final defense date, make sure your committee receives your thesis/dissertation. It may not be necessary to have this early version of your thesis/dissertation printed and bound. Ask your committee members if they want it printed and bound or if they prefer it sent tot hem electronically. There have been cases where an exam gets cancelled at the request of a committee member due to not having received the document in a timely fashion. The defense consists of a formal, public seminar of the thesis/dissertation research, followed by a “closed-door” examination conducted by the student’s Advisory Committee. If you receive a “Full Pass,” you must upload the version of your thesis/dissertation that you defended by no later than 24 hours after the defense. Skipping this step will result in you NOT GRADUATING. See the section on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation for more information. For any other outcomes, please have your advisor contact the Graduate Office. This is also a good time for you to apply to graduate because after you pass your defense, the Grad Office will check your graduation approval in MyPack to clear you at the department level.

Returning Keys, Lab Coats, and Other Checked-Out Equipment

Before you permanently leave your lab make sure you return all keys, lab coats and other checked-out equipment to the Stock Room. The Department will bill you for any outstanding business and this may consequently cause a hold to be placed on your diploma’s release. If you have any questions about what you need to return please contact the Electronic Instrument Shop at 515-2213 or visit them in DAB 48 (basement).