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Prelim, Final Defense, & Graduation

Students in black caps and gowns at graduation

The Final Defense

Upon completion of your research project, you will defend your research. 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. 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 (CH 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 (CH 696 for 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 DEADLINE.

Exam Location – at 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 or Cox 400. Contact the Chem Grad Office to reserve DAB 210 or COX 400 or Premila Jayaratne ( for the PIII conference room. 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.

If your committee has changed, or will change after your Preliminary Exam, you must formally replace/delete that member 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 voting 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 Form – Turn in your completed Request to Schedule Doctoral Oral Examination or Request to Schedule Master’s Oral Examination form TO THE CHEMISTRY GRADUATE OFFICE 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. 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 Director of Graduate Programs (DGP), Prof. Reza Ghiladi, does need to sign. The Graduate School will send your actual exam form, Report of the Committee, electronically to the Advisory Committee.

Remote Oral Exam – Remote attendance at the Oral Exam is allowed. To indicate a remote connection is requested please check the box under the committee member’s name on the Request to Schedule form. Please read more about Remote Oral Exams here.

Plan of Work – Your Plan of Work (PoW) must be updated to accurately reflect all your listed courses’ grades and credit hours. Review your PoW and request a reset to update it, if needed. Contact the Chem Grad Office for the reset.

Apply to Graduate – Along with the Request to Schedule Final Oral Exam, you must apply to graduate on MyPack Portal. The Request to Schedule Form cannot be sent to the Grad School until you complete this action. After you pass your defense, the Grad Office will check your graduation application in MyPack to clear you at the department level.

You must also send the Grad Office your CV so that we are able to anonymously provide statistics on our graduating students’ publications, awards, honors and recognitions for the Chemistry graduate program assessments done by the Graduate School.

After your exam is completed, your committee will electronically sign off on the Report of the Committee and it will be automatically picked up by the Graduate School. In the weeks to come, please make sure your entire committee electronically approves your final version of the thesis/dissertation (ETD). If they do not, you will not graduate.

Announcements – the Grad Office typically emails the entire department announcing your final defense prior to your exam. 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,  your GSR who attended your Prelim must be contacted 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 NC State 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 select 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 up after your event. Rooms that are not cleaned after being 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 for oral exams; refreshments are your responsibility. You can bring pre-brewed coffee from places like Whole Foods, Starbucks, Cup-O-Joe, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick-fil-A, etc. (note, some need 24-48 hr. advance notice). Plan to set up at least thirty minutes in advance of your defense, or plan accordingly if room is occupied before your exam. If you are on Main Campus or Centennial Campus, ask your lab mates to help you set up. Clean up whichever room you use and leave it as you found it. Not cleaning up rooms will result in fewer available locations for student presentations of any kind.

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 to them 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.

If you receive an “unconditional pass” you must upload the version of your thesis/dissertation that you defended by no later than one week after the defense. This draft should be a complete version of the thesis, with all required pages and information included. Skipping this step will result in you NOT GRADUATING. See the Graduate School’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation page for more information. For any other outcomes, please have your advisor contact the Graduate Office.

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 Chemistry Stockroom Manager, open only by appointment, schedule a service appointment here 919.515.2547. 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).