In-Person Thesis/Dissertation Defense Procedures

The Graduate School has stipulated that starting on August 30, 2021, all thesis and dissertation defenses must occur fully in person unless an exemption has been granted by the Graduate School. The defending student and committee must be physically present in the examination room during the entire defense and during the committee’s private deliberations following the examination. If either the student or any committee member wishes to request remote participation, they will need to first obtain a waiver from the Graduate School (using the link provided later in this document). 

For students planning to complete their degree program this semester, we are sending some additional guidance for the defense. The steps to follow are below.

1. Please email the Graduate Office ( two weeks prior to your defense with the information below. If a student or committee member is requesting a waiver for remote participation, the graduate office should be notified at least three weeks prior to the defense: 

  • List of committee members
  • Abstract
  • Day/Time
  • Room/Location 
    • Notify the Graduate Office if you need help reserving a room

2. All thesis and dissertation committee members, including members external to UMD, will be able to sign the Report of the Examining Committee electronically in Adobe Sign. A request to initiate the electronic Report of Examining Committee (REC) form must be made at least 10 business days before the scheduled defense. The committee chair will submit a request for the electronic REC here. In order to complete the request:

  • The committee chair (or designee) must have the student’s information, including name and UID, as well as all committee member names and email addresses.
  • The email address provided for each committee member will serve as authentication when accessing the electronic REC. Special members who do not have a UMD login will no longer have any issues signing the form electronically.

3. The Graduate Office will still be sending out the Middle States Assessment Form and Electronic Publication Form by email to the committee chair prior to the defense.

4. It is very important to note that it will be extremely difficult to find and obtain approval for an emergency, last-minute replacement faculty member for any committee.  It is recommended that you send multiple reminders to all committee members starting at least three days prior to the defense date and ask them to re-confirm their attendance.

5. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School will consider exemptions to the remote defense policy for the Fall 2021 semester. These exemptions will include unusual circumstances such as:

To request a remote participation of a committee member during the Fall 2021 semester, you can complete this form starting on August 1: Please allow ten business days for a resolution that is not an emergency, and note that a remote defense cannot occur without prior approval. 

Remote Defense Request / Procedures 

Ahead of the defense, we encourage you to review the policy on remote participation in a thesis defense or a dissertation defense.  When you make a request, you will be asked to acknowledge these policies.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School will consider exemptions to the in-person defense policy on an individual basis. Remote participation by the student or committee chair, or Dean’s Representative will be permitted in exceptional and compelling circumstances such as:

To request the remote participation of one or all participants, please complete this form or visit our website for more details.

  • Please allow ten business days for a resolution that is not an emergency, and note that remote participation cannot occur without prior approval from Graduate School.