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Graduate Student Oral Exam Attendance


To establish the requisite committee composition of graduate student oral examinations and provide instruction for situations in which a committee member is not able to be physically present.

Applies to: 

All Lawrence/Edwards Campus Graduate students

Policy Statement: 

Ideally, all members of the committee are physically present at graduate student oral examinations, which include the master’s final oral exam (i.e. thesis defense), the doctoral comprehensive oral exam, and the doctoral final oral exam (i.e. dissertation defense). Oral examinations which do not meet the attendance requirements below are not valid. A student's milestone outcome will not be influenced by any proceedings that take place without all members either physically present or participating by approved, mediated means. If a committee member has not arrived, the exam may not begin and if a committee member leaves, the exam may not proceed.

In all cases, the student being examined, the chair of the committee, and the Graduate Studies Representative must all be physically present at the examination or defense. Mediated attendance by the student, chair, or Graduate Studies Representative is prohibited.

When a situation arises in which one or more committee members cannot be physically present, attendance via mediated means (video-conferencing) is acceptable at the discretion of the student and the committee chair. When mediated attendance is used, a majority of the committee members, including the committee chair and the Graduate Studies Representative, must be in physical attendance. All members of the examining committee must be aware of what transpires during the examination. All committee members must be able to participate fully in the discussion with the student and each other. Any material presented during the examination, orally or in writing, shall be seen and heard by all members.

In cases where the student prefers for all committee members to be physically present, the student's preference shall be honored.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

In the case of technology failure during the examination, all physically-present members of the committee must concur that the examination was substantially complete in order to move to an outcome vote. If any member of the committee dissents, the examination is considered canceled and must be rescheduled. If the exam is judged complete, the committee members at remote locations must be contacted to submit their assessment before the exam results are recorded.

Graduate Studies will manage exceptions to the policy outlined above. Requests for exceptions to this policy shall be submitted in writing to the graduate division of the governing school or College for endorsement, then submitted to the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies for consideration. When possible, petitions for exception should be submitted to the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies at least one week in advance of the exam. If exceptions are granted, Graduate Studies may request that a member of the departmental leadership (the Chair or Director of Graduate Studies) be present at the examination.


Office of Graduate Studies
213 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.

Approved by: 
Office of the Provost
Approved on: 
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Effective on: 
Friday, June 1, 2012
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Graduate student oral exam attendance, Master’s comprehensive oral exam, Master’s final oral exam, Doctoral comprehensive oral exam, Doctoral final oral exam, Graduate Studies representative
Change History: 

06/25/2020: Changed Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
07/02/2019: Technical edit to clarify that the attendance rules must be observed for the full duration of the exam. All members must be fully participatory throughout the exam -- physically present if required by related policies or through mediated means as approved.
05/23/2018: Updates defining how mediated attendance may be used were approved by EC at 11 May meeting, SVPAA 17 May.
09/2014: Minor edits by Graduate Studies.

Academic Categories: 
Academic Programs
Graduation & Degrees

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