This guideline presents the major steps involved in a typical student's dissertation process. While this document includes all Rackham required steps, there may be additional departmental requirements. For example, the steps for Music Performance and Music Conducting may vary in the order presented and requirements differ slightly. Rackham recommends that students check with their departmental advisor.
Completion of these steps does not guarantee conferral of your degree. The final conferral decision is the responsibility of the Rackham Graduate School.
Responsible roles are listed in the legend and are indicated to the left of each step. Some steps have prerequisites which are noted with reference number(s) for the steps that must first be completed. Many steps provide links to supporting documentation, PDF forms*, and/or other websites that are useful in the dissertation process.
- Steps for Candidacy and Forming a Dissertation Committee
- Steps for Research and Writing of Dissertation
- Steps for Defense and Evaluation
- Steps for Degree Conferral
|2.||Review the resource titled, "5.1 Candidacy Requirements"|
|3.||Complete coursework as agreed upon with advisor||1|
|4.||Complete departmental requirements (e.g. qualifiers, proposals, work experience)|
|5.||Pass preliminary exams Candidacy Deadlines|
|6.||Complete Advance to Candidacy request for Rackham to review||3, 4, 5|
|7.||Approve Advance to Candidacy||6|
|8.||Form dissertation committee after reviewing guidelines (PDF)*|
|9.||Complete Dissertation Committee Form and submit to Rackham for review|
|10.||Approve dissertation committee||9|
|23.||At least three weeks before the defense, register online for Rackham group pre-defense meeting (or remote option) and submit date, time, and location of oral defense|
|24.||Attend scheduled group pre-defense meeting (or remote option) and bring one complete copy of dissertation to note any formatting corrections||10, 20|
|25.||Distribute the dissertation and abstract to committee members at least 10 working days prior to the Oral Defense.||24|
|26.||Submit evaluation (instructions) to Rackham three business days before the defense.||25|
|27.||View your committee on Wolverine Access to verify that evaluations have been returned to Rackham||26|
|28.||Print Oral Report form from the web after receiving e-mail that it is ready to print, and take to Oral Defense.||27|
|29.||Do oral defense of dissertation||28|
|30.||Return Final Oral Examination Report to Rackham||29|
|31.||Submit final dissertation/abstract revisions as necessary to committee chair||30|
|32.||Submit the Certificate of Dissertation Committee Approval (instructions) to Rackham||31|
|33.||Apply for graduation via Wolverine Access, complete the online NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates, and complete the (optional) Rackham Doctoral Recipients Exit Survey.|
|34.||Arrange for Post-defense meeting with Rackham OARD in person or remotely referencing doctoral deadlines.||24, 31|
|35.||Check Wolverine Access for financial status|
|36.||Approve degree for conferral if all degree requirements are met|
|37.||Receive diploma at commencement (April/May & December only) or the Office of the Registrar will mail it approximately two weeks after conferral date||36|
* Because of a bug in some internet browsers, it is recommended that you download any web-based PDF document to your hard disk before viewing instead of opening the document in the browser window. PC Instructions: Right mouse-click on the link and select "Save Link/Target As." MAC Instructions: Hold Option and mouse-click on the link and select "Save Link/Target As."