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The final step toward obtaining an advanced degree is the defense and submission of a written dissertation. The finished manuscript is an original scholarly work that is the product of extensive research and related preparation.

The dissertation demonstrates a student’s knowledge of a broad field of learning and contains an original contribution to the chosen field of study. It must be creative and independent work that can stand the test of peer review; thus, students will participate in a public seminar to present and defend the dissertation followed by a closed examination by the student’s dissertation committee.


In preparation for the defense, the student must provide a copy of the dissertation to each member of the committee at least four weeks in advance of the desired defense date. Should any of the committee members deem it necessary for the student to address errors or shortcomings, the student will be given the opportunity to make revisions. Once the committee agrees that the dissertation is ready to be defended, the defense date may be scheduled.


Once the defense date has been scheduled, the student can Request for a Defense Announcement to be posted. This must be done at least one week prior to defense date.  To publicize the defense, the following information will be needed:


  • Date, Time and Location of Defense
  • Defense Title
  • Abstract
  • Short Bio (optional)
  • Picture of self and/or research (optional)


The student will be evaluated on the substance of the written dissertation and the student’s performance on the exam. A majority of the committee must vote that the student’s work is of satisfactory quality to earn a University of California Ph.D. degree.  Should the student not pass, they may repeat the defense once no earlier than one month and no later than twelve months from the date of the first defense.


After the student successfully defends their dissertation and makes any needed corrections and/or revisions, the committee will approve the finalized manuscript. The student then submits the dissertation online by the end of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. After submission, dissertation manuscripts automatically become available for public access and circulation as part of UC Merced’s Library Collections.