• Home
  • Doctoral Degree Final Oral Exams

Doctoral Degree Final Oral Exams


To define the eligibility and requirements for doctoral final oral exams at the University of Kansas

Applies to: 

All Lawrence/Edwards Campus Graduate students

Policy Statement: 

Completion of the dissertation, or for some professional programs a comparable culminating effort, is the final academic phase of a doctoral program, culminating in the final oral examination and defense. In all but the rarest cases, tentative approval of the dissertation or its equivalent is followed promptly by the final oral examination.

Scheduling the Final Exam
When the completed dissertation or its equivalent has been accepted by the doctoral committee in final draft form and all other degree requirements have been satisfied, the chair of the committee notifies the unit to request the graduate division of its school/College to schedule the final oral examination. The examination request must be submitted at least three (3) weeks in advance of the intended examination date. The graduate division may indicate an earlier scheduling deadline. Prior to the scheduling of the exam, it is the responsibility of the program to verify that:

  • The student is in good academic standing, including a 3.0 or higher cumulative graduate grade point average.
  • At least one (1) month has elapsed since the successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination. Departments, programs, schools, or the College may require a longer minimum interval between the oral comprehensive exam and the final dissertation defense.
  • The student has enrolled as required by the Doctoral Candidacy policy.

The graduate division ascertains whether all other degree requirements have been met and if reports of any previously scheduled final oral examinations have been submitted and recorded. Upon approval of the request, the final oral examination is scheduled at the time and place approved by the Graduate Division. This information must be published in the University events calendar or other medium that ensures broad dissemination to the University community, whose members are encouraged to attend.

Administration of the Exam
The committee for the final oral examination must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition and Graduate Studies Representative on Doctoral Exam Committees policies.

To pass the exam, the student must receive a majority of assenting votes (e.g., three [3] of four [4] votes). For every scheduled final oral examination, the unit reports to the graduate division a grade of Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, or, at the option of the unit, Honors. If an Unsatisfactory grade is reported, the candidate may be allowed to repeat the examination on the recommendation of the department.

Doctoral students who have completed all their degree requirements by the published early graduation deadline are not required to be enrolled for that term.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

This policy does not apply to the JD or PharmD degrees.


Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Effective on: 
Friday, July 17, 2009
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

This policy reflects the practices that have been in place at the University of Kansas for a number of years.

Doctoral final oral exams, Graduate Studies representative, Doctoral dissertation
Change History: 

01/02/2024: Corrected spelling, grammar, and links.
08/10/2023: Reorganized for clarity; affirmed three week deadline for scheduling exams; removed content repeated in other policy; added reference to other culminating efforts besides the dissertation; and clarified majority vote requirement.
07/07/2023: Removed extraneous links, changed approved by to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
04/07/2023: Fixed broken links.
04/04/2023: Removed broken links.
06/25/2020: Changed Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
01/10/2017: Policy Update - shortened minimum interval between comps and defense
12/04/2015: Technical edits.
October 2014: Reviewed and updated by Graduate Studies

Academic Categories: 
Academic Work & Evaluations

Can't Find What You're Looking For?
Policy Library Search
KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times