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Completing the Doctoral Degree Requirements

With COVID-19 Accommodations for Dissertation Oral Defense Procedures

In line with the university’s goals to fulfill its educational mission while protecting health and safety by minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19 in the community and broader society, oral defenses may be held either wholly online or in person and in accordance with the University of Michigan’s health protocols and policies regarding limits to the number of in-person participants, social distancing, and other measures to safeguard health.

Before the Oral Defense

Review your committee on Wolverine Access to verify that it is correct. This can be found on your unofficial transcript or the “View My Committee Information” link under Student Business: Academic Records. If adjustments need to be made, have your program submit a dissertation committee form immediately. It is recommended that you complete this step at least six months prior to the defense.

At least three weeks prior to the oral defense, register online for a pre-defense review. When registering, you will provide your name, program, U-M identification number, defense date, time, room location for in-person defenses, and Zoom meeting link as the online location; and information about your committee members, including email addresses.

Begin viewing your committee on Wolverine Access three days prior to your defense to confirm all members have submitted their evaluation. All members must complete an evaluation before OARD can authorize the defense.

After confirming all evaluations have been received, an email with a link to your Final Oral Examination Report Form will be sent to you, your committee chair, and the graduate coordinator of your program. This form can be signed electronically at the defense and/or printed for physical signatures.

Oral Defense

To minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 in the community and broader society, oral defenses may be held either in person, subject to the requirements of the University’s health protocols and policies, or remotely via teleconference with Zoom.

Online Oral Defense

Because of concerns for health and safety during the COVID-19 emergency, the oral defense may be held either remotely via videoconferencing or in person. In-person oral defenses must conform to the university’s guidelines during the COVID-19 emergency and must be held in rooms that allow a minimum of six feet of distancing between all persons, or a minimum of 36 square feet of space for the each individual. All persons must wear face masks. Given the need for additional space, in-person defenses may require use of larger rooms and necessitate scheduling outside of regular business hours. It is recommended that only the candidate and committee be present for an in-person defense and that arrangements be made for an audience to attend remotely.

You may defend your dissertation remotely using Zoom. Zoom also offers an option to record the defense.

If you use use Zoom videoconferencing for the defense, you will need to set up registration for the committee and other attendees, and take other measures to secure the meeting.

Announcement of the Defense

Rackham OARD and your program will publicly announce the defense so others may choose to view it via Zoom.

Using Zoom for the Defense

Directions for you and your committee members about how to arrange an oral defense using Zoom:

Signing and Submitting the Final Oral Examination Report

Committee members may sign the digital PDF securely or non-securely. Some members may prefer to print the form, sign it physically, and scan or take a photo to submit it via email. The chair emails the form with signatures to Rackham OARD:

After the Oral Defense

Submit all of the required content revisions and corrections to your committee chair for approval.

Arrange for a post-defense submission that must take place before the doctoral deadline. If the final deadline is exceeded, you will be required to enroll in the full term in which degree requirements are completed and pay tuition for 8 credit hours.

Before Submitting the Final Dissertation

The Post-Defense Submission

Submit online a complete, final, correctly formatted PDF of the dissertation (to be the official copy on record in the University Deep Blue digital archive).

  • Allow a minimum of two working days for us to review your dissertation.
  • Log in using your uniqname and Kerberos password.
    • Read and agree to the terms of the Author’s Deposit Agreement.
    • Cut and paste your abstract into the designated space (550 word limit, no special characters).
    • Select a category and topic from the drop-down menu that most closely classifies your dissertation.
    • Enter at least one (up to six) keywords or phrases associated with your dissertation topic.
  • During the submission process, you will have the opportunity to submit your dissertation to ProQuest. Although optional, it is recommended. You must opt out of submitting to ProQuest if you are requesting an embargo. Embargo information and form are on our website.

OARD will perform a final format check. If format revisions are required you will need to make the corrections and re-submit the dissertation before 5:00 p.m. EST on the deadline. Be mindful that more than 90% of submitted dissertations need format revisions and often need to be re-submitted more than once. The 5:00 p.m. deadline for the final corrected submission is firm and extensions are not permitted.

Contact Academic Records and Dissertations

0120 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.763.0171
Fax: 734.936.3335


Academic Records and Dissertations is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.