Final Oral Defense Procedures

Students are advised to contact their graduate program office for guidance regarding scheduling their final oral defense.

Students must be registered in the semester they are defending and in the semester they are depositing their final dissertation/thesis/major - review details regarding registration requirements.


  • The oral defense should be completed at least three weeks prior to the convocation at which the student has applied to graduate. Defense deadlines for each Spring and Fall convocation are posted on Important Dates webpage.
  • The candidate is to provide a copy of their document to all committee members:
    • At least two weeks prior to the oral defense date for Master’s thesis or major research paper.

    • At least four weeks prior to the oral defense date for Doctoral dissertations.

  • At least eight days in advance of the defense date public notice of the defense must be posted in the academic unit (e.g. on the departmental website) and a copy of the notice received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies from the department. Students must be registered in the semester they are defending before their final oral defense can be posted by the department. Review registration requirements for students who are defending.
  • The Chair of a PhD Defense will be procured from within the Faculty of Graduate Studies; the Chair will be a senior member of the Graduate Faculty from outside the program. The Chair will be named on the Notice of Defense. The Chair is non-voting.
  • The Chair of a Master's Thesis defense will be a member of graduate faculty who has not served on the candidate's Master's committee, and who is appointed by the Department Head at the time the defense is publicly announced. Review list of current Graduate Faculty members by program. The chair is non-voting.
  • The candidate will present the dissertation, thesis, or major paper at a public defense. Review the Defense Procedures Guidelines: Doctoral Master's.
  • The attendance requirements at final oral defenses are outlined in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Guidelines on attendance at major paper, thesis, and dissertation defenses".

The "Defense Procedures Guidelines" and the "Guidelines on Attendance at Major Paper, Thesis and Dissertation Defenses" are also available from the "Student Forms" webpage under 'Thesis and dissertation forms'.

Post-defense process:

Upon completion of the final oral defense:

  1. the student is to obtain signatures from all committee members on one copy of the Approval page and complete the document submission ("deposit") with the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Review instructions for student about obtaining electronic signatures on the Approval page.
    • Note that if students are targeting a specific deadline i.e. for graduation or end-of-term completion, Step 1 of the deposit must be initiated within the posted deadline for this purpose, which may be prior to the oral defense - these deadlines are posted on the Important Dates webpage
  2. the department is to submit to Graduate Studies an official report from the final oral defense specifying the final grade. Review instructions for departments about completing and submitting the defense grade Report Form.

Embargo / withholding request

A digital copy of the deposited document will be added as open access to the University of Windsor Scholarship@UWindsor digital insitutional repository as well as to ProQuest (theses and dissertations only). If the document needs to be withheld temporarily from the public for a variety of valid reasons (e.g. pending publication), at the time of depositing the candidate and their research supervisor(s) may request a period of withholding from circulation, as described in the deposit steps.


External Examiner for PhD Defenses:

The Doctoral Committee will be supplemented by an independent External Examiner at the final oral defense. As an expert in the field of research associated with that of the doctoral candidate, the External Examiner will evaluate the dissertation and will be present (either in person or by teleconference) at the defense. 

Note: All forms related to the External Examiner are available on our Student Forms webpage under "Thesis and dissertation forms".


PhD Dissertation Submission and Defense Timeline Tracker:

For your convenience, we have provided a timeline tracker form for PhD Dissertation and Submission and Defense Timelines. If you require accessibility accommodations, please do not hesitate to contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Please note that the timeline form is for personal use only and should not be returned to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.