The dissertation defense

This is a reference page for Graduate student information.

THIS PAGE IS NOT OFFICIAL DEPARTMENTAL POLICY. IT MERELY REPRESENTS THE PEER-ADVICE PROVIDED BY FELLOW STUDENTS AND FACULTY.

What the handbook says

This is a formal University procedure which must be scheduled in advance. The Defense Committee consists of three members of the Astronomy Department Faculty, along with two outside scientists (either from Physics or another Columbia Department, or from outside the University). Complete copies of the dissertation must be distributed to each member of the Committee at least three weeks in advance of the scheduled defense. Students may use Departmental resources (printers, copiers, etc.) to prepare the dissertation copies, but outside copying charges cannot, in general, be reimbursed.

After a successful defense, the student has six months to file the formal required copies (conforming with all University specifications) with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Department will reimburse required filing fees upon submission of receipts. Students are responsible for informing themselves as to the various deadlines attendant on the defense and filing dates necessary for graduation in either May, October, or January (the only three months in which degrees are conferred). Note that some postdoctoral positions have an absolute requirement that the degree be formally received before postdoctoral salary can be paid. Others require simply a certification letter from the Department that all requirements for the degree have been met; such letters can be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies or the Department Chair.

Additional information

By tradition, after each successful defense held in the astronomy library, champagne is uncorked to celebrate.

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