The Final Defense Process

When the Chair is satisfied with the quality of the written work and determines the Dissertation is ready for Final Defense, the Chair distributes the final complete draft of the manuscript and the Final Defense PowerPoint to all members of the committee at least 14 days in advance. The Chair will then contact the committee to set a Final Defense date and time. It is the committee members’ responsibility to be as flexible as possible when scheduling the Final Defense. Once the date and time have been established, the Chair will notify the Program Office (utclead@utc.edu) and submit / confirm the Dissertation title and abstract for the campus announcement. The Program Office will reserve an approved meeting location and distribute appointment invites. The Program Office will submit the Notice of Defense information to the Graduate School. The Graduate School shall publicly announce the date, time, and location of the Final Defense via email to the campus community. To qualify for graduation in a given semester, the Final Defense must take place at least 14 days prior to the “deadline to submit dissertation and dissertation exam results to the Graduate School for X graduation,” as published in the Graduate School Calendar (link: Graduate Calendar).

Note: The candidate must be enrolled in a minimum of 2 Dissertation credits (LEAD 7999) during the semester in which the Final Dissertation Defense is held.  

The Chair will guide the candidate in preparing for the public research presentation and private defense. The majority of committee members must contribute synchronously at the Dissertation defense. A PC-based computer, projector, and Internet access will be available at the defense location. The candidate is responsible to being able to access an electronic copy of research and presentation materials for the defense (a backup plan is strongly recommended). The presentation will consist of a 30-40 minute oral description of the study with an emphasis on the findings and the conclusions.  Family members and friends are permitted to attend, however, candidates should be aware that their work will be publicly reviewed and potentially criticized. The typical defense consists of a public forum that is open to the entire University community.

At the start of the defense proceeding, the Dissertation Chair will introduce the committee, introduce the candidate, and outline the defense proceedings. After the candidate’s 30-40 minute oral presentation, committee members and guests will be given an opportunity to pose questions related to the research. The Chair will act as moderator to keep the exchange relevant and timely. Once all general questions have been addressed, any guests in attendance will be asked to adjourn. The committee will then meet with the candidate in a private session. Following the private session, the Chair will ask the candidate to leave the room while the committee deliberates. Only the candidate is to return to the examining room for feedback from the Chair and committee.

Evaluation of the Final Defense

There are three possible results from the Dissertation committee vote:

  • Pass
  • Re-examination
  • Failure

The evaluation of Pass indicates that a majority of members of the Dissertation committee concluded that the candidate met or exceeded the requirements set forth in the Dissertation Proposal, however s/he may be required to make minor editorial modifications to the Dissertation.

An evaluation of Re-examination indicates that two or more members of the committee found substantive problems in the work or the defense of the Dissertation. The members of the committee will prepare a list of modifications or improvements required before a second Dissertation defense will be scheduled. The re-examination will occur in the same or subsequent semester unless the Dissertation committee and the dean of the Graduate School grant additional time to effect the necessary changes.

An evaluation of Failure indicates that the majority of the Dissertation committee judged the quality of the candidate’s Dissertation and the defense of the Dissertation to be below the standards expected of doctoral level scholarly performance. In the event of a result of Failure, the candidate may petition the Chair and Program Director for the opportunity for re-evaluation.

Final Dissertation Approval and Digital Submission

Following the successful Final Defense, the candidate will make any additional revisions as recommended by the committee and will submit the manuscript to the Chair. The Chair will submit the approved Dissertation manuscript to the Program Office (utclead@utc.edu) and will request circulation of the Examination Results Form to the Committee, Program Director/Advisor, and College Dean.

The Program Office will provide the candidate with a pre-populated Verification of Standards and Bibliography Software Form to digitally sign and return to the Program Office. The Verification Form indicates that the Standards for formatting were followed, verifies the bibliography management software used, provides the name of the software (EndNote), and indicates the word processing software used (Microsoft Word) to produce the dissertation.

Once the final manuscript has been approved by the Program Director/Advisor and College Dean, and the Verification Form has been digitally signed by the candidate and returned to the Program Office, the Program Office will submit the Examination Results Form and Verification Form to the Graduate Dean for processing.

The Program Office will provide the candidate with instructions to submit the Dissertation manuscript electronically to the Graduate School via UTC Scholar for formatting review (link: Thesis and Dissertation). Submission deadlines are posted to the Graduate School website (links: Graduate Calendar and Thesis and Dissertation). The Dean of the Graduate School (or an appointed representative) will review the Dissertation to ensure compliance with the Thesis and Dissertation Standards, which can be found on the Graduate School website (link: Thesis and Dissertation). Graduate School standards stipulate that all theses and dissertations must use bibliography management software. The Learning and Leadership Program requires all candidates to use EndNote bibliography management software. Compliance with UTC formatting / style guidelines is the responsibility of the candidate. Questions regarding this process may be directed to the office of the Graduate Dean at 423.425.4478. There is no fee for electronic submission of the Dissertation to UTC Scholar. Digital submission to ProQuest is optional; it is not required by the University. The Graduate School will communicate directly with the candidate regarding any formatting revisions. Once the manuscript has been approved, the Graduate School will notify the candidate. 

Note: The final transcript and diploma may be withheld until the UTC Scholar submission and approval process has been successfully completed.

Ordering Dissertation Copies (Optional)

Once the manuscript has been approved by the Graduate School via UTC Scholar (link: UTC Scholar), candidates may choose to purchase bound copies of the final Dissertation for themselves or as a gift for the Dissertation Chair. Dissertation binding services are not offered by UTC Scholar; however, they may be purchased through the UTC Bookstore or ProQuest UMI.

UTC Bookstore Orders

The printed manuscript will need to be hand delivered or shipped (USPS or express carrier) to the following address for binding:

The UTC Bookstore
Attn: Bookstore Assistant Manager
651A East Fifth Street, University Center
Chattanooga, TN 37403

Each bound copy costs approximately $40.00. This price does not include the charge for shipping the manuscript to the Bookstore; however, it does include the charge to ship the finished product to the candidate. Credit cards are accepted. For more information, contact the Bookstore Assistant Manager at 423.425.5362 / 423.425.4107 or bbd378@mocs.utc.edu.

ProQuest UMI Orders

Note: Digital submission to ProQuest is not required by the University.

Authors electing to publish their manuscript with ProQuest may choose to order a bound copy during the online submission process. Each bound copy costs approximately $56.00 (price decreases if multiple copies are ordered). Credit cards are accepted. For more information, visit the Graduate School website (link: Thesis and Dissertation) for ProQuest submission information or contact Author Relations at disspub@proquest.com.