Skip to main content

Plan your Defense

Thesis and dissertation defenses are public events and are advertised throughout the university. Your graduate coordinator can answer any questions on how you should prepare. Please complete the following steps before you may hold your defense:

  • Register and submit a complete draft of your thesis/dissertation to ProQuest.
    • To watch a video tutorial on how to set up your ProQuest account, click here: How to set up a ProQuest Account
    • Don’t worry—you will need to click ‘submit’ several times during the account set-up. You are NOT sending your document to ProQuest; the Graduate School does that after the Registrar verifies all requirements for your degree are finalized.
    • If you feel you need to delay the release of your thesis or dissertation, please see the ISU Embargo Policy.
    • Here is information about ordering bound copies of your thesis/dissertation from Milner library if you wish to do so. Binding flyer.
  • Any changes to your committee composition since your proposal requires a Committee Change form to be submitted to Hovey Hall 208 or
  • Complete the Right to Defend form and return it to Hovey Hall 208 or at least 10 days before your planned defense date. Students must wait at least 7 business days after approval of the Right to Defend to hold their defense. Be sure you check deadlines for the last date to hold your defense.
  • If any changes have been made to your copyright checklist, complete section 5 of the Proposal Approval form and submit it to the Graduate School with your Right to Defend form.
  • Please notify the Graduate School of the defense date and other details.

Thesis & Dissertation Format Check

After you have submitted your Right to Defend form, and as you wait for your defense date, you may want to schedule an optional thesis/dissertation format check to ensure your document is formatted correctly.

  • Step One: Submit an electronic draft of your entire thesis/dissertation to ProQuest. (this is done as part of completing the Right to Defend process)
  • Step Two: E-mail to schedule your format check. You do not need to be present during the format check, but you do need to reserve a time.
  • Format checks are done on a first come first served basis, and a limited number of reservations are available. No optional format checks will be scheduled after the oral defense deadline as final reviews will have begun.
  • Due to time limitations only one format check can be done prior to submission of final deposit materials

Thesis/Dissertation Defense and Revisions

  • Typical defense format: The student presents the results of the research in 15-30 minutes, followed by questions from the audience and committee. Once the questions and answers are complete you and the audience are then asked to leave the room while the committee members discuss the defense. The committee will then ask the student to return to hear the result.
  • Since thesis/dissertation defenses are open to the public, you may want to attend a defense or two to see the format and process and learn what to expect.
  • Committee members commonly ask for revisions based on points that come up at the defense. Keep careful notes so that you are clear on which revisions are required by your committee. You must complete all required changes and have them approved by your committee chair before you can deposit your thesis/dissertation.
  • Once your final thesis/dissertation has been approved by your committee, the members will sign the Outcome of Defense form. This certifies to the Graduate School that you have satisfactorily completed the requirements of the department for the thesis/dissertation.

Submit the Final Deposit

Once the committee has signed the Outcome of Defense:

  • Upload a final copy in ProQuest and submit the Outcome of Defense form and Final Deposit Checklist to Hovey Hall 208 or electronically to
  • The Graduate School will review your final draft for compliance with formats. If any changes are required to the final draft, you will need to make them in time to meet the Registrar’s Office deadlines for finalizing graduation. Our staff reviews final deposits in the order they are received. So, it may take some time to hear about your corrections.
  • Check your ISU e-mail account daily until your thesis/dissertation has been finalized.
  • If you are unable to make all corrections in time to meet the Registrar’s Office deadlines, your graduation date will move to the next semester. Providing that you have already completed all required thesis/dissertation credit hours and have maintained continuous enrollment since your proposal was accepted, you will not be charged additional tuition or fees for the new semester as long as your final deposit is approved before the first day of classes.
  • Your graduation will be finalized once all Graduate School requirements are completed and the Registrar’s Office reviews and approves all graduation requirements.

Doctoral Students only:

Submit a completed Graduation Announcement Form to or the Graduate School if you wish the university to notify press of your graduation.

If you are a doctoral student and you have completed your degree, the Graduate School requests that you fill out the online national Survey of Earned Doctorates.