Dec 07, 2022  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Master’s Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation & Project Oral Defense Requirements


Defense Announcements 

Final Oral Defense Guidelines for Master’s and Doctoral Programs

Thesis and Dissertation Defense Format

Enrollment Requirements during Thesis/Dissertation Progress

Master’s Thesis, Doctoral Dissertation, and Doctoral Projects

Formatting and Style

iThenticate Requirements

ProQuest, Digital Scholarship, and Embargo Requirements

 

 

Defense Announcements 

Master’s thesis and doctoral defenses are partially public events and must be announced to the campus via the UNLV Master Calendar a minimum of two  weeks prior to the scheduled event. To do so, the date, time, and location need to be emailed to GradRebel@unlv.edu. Advertisement of the defense must specify how, when, and where the defense will take place so that members of the public may attend/participate, whether the defense is face-to-face (must be on campus), a hybrid format (an on-campus location plus a digital/online component for remote participation), or an entirely online/digital meeting space. Also, students are generally required to publicize their defense in their department and encouraged to do so in other relevant campus and community groups. 

Please note that the first part of the defense is open and public; after the student’s presentation and questions (conducted in a manner that is typical and appropriate to the program/discipline), everyone other than the student and their GAC should be asked to leave. At that point, the private part of the defense with the student and their GAC may commence (see also: Graduate Student Advisory Committees ).

 

Final Oral Defense Guidelines for Master’s and Doctoral Programs

Graduate students completing a thesis, dissertation, or doctoral project are required to demonstrate their ability to select a specific problem or topic, master the literature on it, gather/create and analyze/present relevant data/scholarship/creative products, engage in original research, scholarship, or creative activity, and prepare a well-written final document that is successfully defended publicly and to their entire GAC. Best practices indicate that no later than eight weeks prior to the last day of instruction in the term the student will graduate, a draft of the work should be submitted to the advisory committee. At the very least, students should submit their draft of the thesis or dissertation at least 10 working days to their committee for review before their scheduled defense date. The oral defense must be held at least three weeks before the last day of instruction in the term in which the student plans to complete the degree requirements. Students must be enrolled in three graduate credits during the term the oral defense is conducted and the student intends to graduate.

 

Thesis and Dissertation Defense Format

Particularly in traditional, on-campus programs, the Graduate College encourages in-person milestone exams, thesis, and dissertation defenses with the defending student, committee chair, and other committee members present in-person. This defense format enables discussion of a student’s culminating experience and serves as an important landmark in a student’s professional development by presenting to a group of scholars and perhaps a wider community. However, advances in digital technology and variation in program delivery (e.g., online programs) warrant flexibility in how in-person vs. remote thesis and dissertation defenses occur. Student defense presentations must be public, although a private defense discussion between the student and committee members must also occur. 

Advertisement of the defense must specify how, when, and where the defense will take place so that members of the public may attend/participate, whether the defense is face-to-face (must be on campus), a hybrid format (an on-campus location plus a digital/online component for remote participation), or an entirely online/digital meeting space. For hybrid defenses, the location must have the necessary technical capacity to allow for reliable remote participation with audio and visual capacity for the student and committee members. Students must inform the Graduate College of their defense date, time, place, format, and complete login information (if hybrid or online) to facilitate public attendance at least two weeks in advance of the defense so that it may be advertised on the website. 

Regardless of defense mode, the entire GAC, including the GRC, must be in attendance and participate in the entire defense. The GRC must be able to participate and observe all interactions that occur during the defense. If technical or other problems arise and interfere with the ability to successfully conduct the presentation and discussion, the defense meeting must be rescheduled.

Satisfactory performance on a final defense will consist of a presentation and public defense of the student’s original thesis or dissertation research. At a minimum, the defense consists of an oral presentation open to university graduate faculty, staff, students, and the community, followed immediately by a closed deliberation and vote by the advisory committee. More specifically, the oral presentation will be open to UNLV graduate faculty, graduate students, relevant administrators, and invited guests.

The oral presentation may be followed by general questions of clarification from attendees (other than the advisory committee members). The advisory committee and chair may choose to include a session of more in-depth questioning open only to the advisory committee and the UNLV graduate faculty. An additional phase of questioning with only the advisory committee and candidate may also be included. The final phase of closed deliberation, and the vote to pass or fail the student, will only be open to the student’s appointed advisory committee, after which the student will be immediately informed of the committee’s decision.

During the oral defense, the student must be able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of a broad field of study and a detailed understanding of a more limited field. All voting members of the advisory committee must unanimously pass the student. If the committee votes unanimously to pass or fail the student, that vote is final. Oftentimes, the advisory committee unanimously votes to provisionally pass the student for the oral defense component of the program but requires revisions to the thesis/dissertation before the document may be submitted to the Graduate College in its final form. Students must complete the committee’s required revisions to their satisfaction/standards of the field before the Culminating Experience Results Form can be submitted to the Graduate College. 

If the voting members of the advisory committee are not unanimous on a pass or fail, the student, in consultation with their advisor, may request the committee to administer a second examination. Students should be placed on probation if they do not pass the exam the first time (See Probation and Separation in Progression and Completion Policies ). The student must wait at least three months before taking the second examination, during which time the department may require additional coursework; substantial reworking of the thesis, dissertation, or professional/scholarly paper or project; or whatever is believed necessary to prepare the student for a successful second examination. The Graduate College will not approve third examination requests.

Students must submit the results of their oral defense to the Graduate College immediately after they receive them or it is recommended no more than two weeks prior to the last day of instruction.

 

Enrollment Requirements during Thesis/Dissertation Progress

Students must maintain continuous enrollment (a minimum of six graduate-level credits in the current and prior two consecutive semesters, including summer) while working on their degree and final document. Master’s and doctoral candidates must be enrolled in enough thesis/dissertation/doctoral culminating experience credits to maintain continuous enrollment unless they are on an approved LOA (see LOA in Progression and Completion Policies ). Since we cannot graduate and confer a degree upon a student who is not active and enrolled, students must be enrolled in a minimum of three graduate-level credits in the semester in which they graduate, even if they have already completed all the required degree credits. If students have fulfilled their program thesis or dissertation credit requirements but have not yet completed and been given final approval for their thesis or dissertation, they must adhere to the enrollment and registration guidelines outlined in their respective program handbooks. Programs may establish registration credit requirements during this stage of thesis or dissertation completion but the guidelines should not conflict with Graduate College policies. Please note that students must be enrolled in a minimum of one graduate credit in any semester when they are proposing, defending, or testing (preliminary, qualifying, comprehensive, prospectus, or final exams/activity).

 

Master’s Thesis, Doctoral Dissertation, and Doctoral Projects

Some master’s programs require a thesis, or offer the option of a thesis, for the master’s degree. All research doctoral programs (Ph.D.s) require a dissertation. Professional doctoral programs require a dissertation or doctoral project, depending on the field of study. The thesis, dissertation, or doctoral project should demonstrate the student’s ability to select a specific problem or topic, assemble pertinent and necessary data, conduct original research, organize ideas and data in a compelling manner, and prepare a clear, well-written document detailing their work.

The minimum number of thesis credits required for a master’s degree program is six. For the doctoral degree program, the minimum number of dissertation credits required is 12. A grade is not reported for thesis or dissertation credits. Semesters in which the document is still in progress and neither completed nor defended, X grade is issued. When the final copy of the thesis/dissertation is submitted electronically to the Graduate College and approved by the Graduate College dean, the title of the thesis/dissertation is posted on the student’s transcript with the number of credits earned. See Progression and Completion Policies about Enrollment Requirements during Thesis/Dissertation Progress.

Best practices indicate that no later than eight weeks prior to the last day of instruction in the term the student will graduate, a draft of the work should be submitted to the advisory committee. The committee will review the thesis or dissertation for any corrections and changes, which must be incorporated before the final examination (oral defense) and submission of the final document to the Graduate College. The completed work must be resubmitted to the committee at least two weeks before the final scheduled examination/defense date.

At the defense, the advisory committee may require appropriate additions, retractions, changes, edits, or other modifications to the document before signing the final paperwork to indicate a successful defense and a passing final thesis or dissertation. The final document (incorporating all changes and formatted appropriately) must be submitted to the Graduate College. The GAC determines the appropriate style guide and must sign-off to indicate that the document conforms to all stylistic requirements, is well-edited, and clearly written. There are also some basic formatting requirements required by the Graduate College. Instructions on how to submit your document for a format check to confirm that it complies to UNLV requirements (not to approve compliance with the style guide used in the student’s discipline; that is managed by the GAC) can be found on the Graduate College’s Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation page.

 

Formatting and Style

Matters of format and style with respect to capitalization, abbreviation, quotations, footnotes, citations, bibliography, etc., should conform to the discipline’s standard publishing format (APA, ASA, MLA, Chicago style, etc.). Departments will advise the student on which style manual is appropriate, and members of the GAC are responsible for ensuring full compliance with the chosen style guidelines in all final documents. Beyond, and in addition to, the style guidelines used in the student’s field, final documents must conform to UNLV formatting and style requirements. The Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation is available on the Graduate College website and these resources, along with workshops provided by the Graduate College each semester, should make it easy for students to conform to UNLV guidelines. These mandatory formatting requirements to the final document must be met before final submission and before a student’s degree can be conferred. Students with questions about their thesis or dissertation can take advantage of the Graduate College’s thesis and dissertation office hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-2 p.m. Email grad.td@unlv.edu at least 48 hours in advance to schedule a virtual appointment (via Google Meets or Skype).

 

iThenticate Requirements

Students are required to run their final thesis or dissertation through the online iThenticate similarity check software prior to their final defense. All doctoral students have free access upon admission acceptance, and all master’s students with 15 credits toward their degree, to this software through the Graduate College for any professional use, including the final thesis or dissertation check. Students that do not have access should contact the Graduate College to create an account (See iThenticate information

Graduate advisory committee members should be sent a PDF of the iThenticate similarity report via email a minimum of seven days before the scheduled defense. At the time of the defense, the student’s committee will attest that they have received copies of the report and approve the percentage as acceptable for the student’s discipline on the student’s Culminating Experience Form. The first page of the student’s iThenticate similarity report that lists the overall similarity percentage for the final document should be attached to the approved Culminating Experience Results Form before it is turned into the Graduate College via Grad Rebel Gateway.

 

ProQuest, Digital Scholarship, and Embargo Requirements

As part of the requirements for completion for all theses, dissertations, and doctoral projects, once final documents are accepted by the Graduate College as complete, approved, and properly formatted, students must then submit their final approved document electronically to ProQuest and Digital Scholarship@UNLV by the posted date each semester. Failure to do so will result in a delay of your degree conferral. Please note that documents posted in ProQuest and Digital Scholarship@UNLV will be available online for viewing and download. 

Students who have a documented rationale for needing to delay the release of their document to ProQuest and Digital Scholarship@UNLV are invited to submit an Embargo Form to the Graduate College. Embargos may be approved for periods of one, three, five, or seven years and under special circumstances may be renewed with a new, approved Embargo application. Even with the implementation of an embargo, students still must upload their final document to ProQuest to graduate. Please note that students graduating from the Department of English should contact the Graduate College about the submission of the document to ProQuest and Digital Scholarship@UNLV.

 

 

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