Advanced Degree Application Process

UPDATED - Guidelines for FPOs

  • In spring 2020, the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School released modified guidelines for FPOs in response to COVID-19.  These modified guidelines stated that all FPOs should be held remotely by videoconference (Zoom or Skype, for example) until further notice.  With the spring 2021 announcement by the University regarding return to in-person regular operations at the University for the fall 2021 semester, we have updated those guidelines here. If you have any questions about the information below, please reach out to Assistant Dean Geoffrey Hill (for students in the humanities and social sciences) or Assistant Dean Christine Murphy (for students in the natural sciences and engineering).
  • The instructions that follow immediately below are for students who plan to defend during summer 2021 or during the 2021-22 academic year. These modified instructions replace relevant sections of the normal instructions, which can be found in full at the conclusion of these temporary instructions.  Students and departments should also continue to consult the full set of normal instructions for clarification and helpful tips. 
  • Departments may again schedule in-person FPOs following the guidelines for indoor gatherings as described in the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) policy for such in-person gatherings, which can be found here.
  • It is also the case that, until further notice, FPOs may continue to be held remotely without special permission or approval from the Graduate School.  If there are questions or issues around conducting the FPO remotely, please follow up with the appropriate assistant dean (as noted above).
  • PDFs of Dissertations: The copy of the dissertation that students must submit to the department more than two weeks before the FPO should continue to be submitted as a PDF for defenses, regardless of whether the PFO will be held virtually or in-person.
  • Public Posting of FPOs: For in-person FPOs, once the Graduate School has approved the request to hold the FPO, the department’s public posting of the student’s name, dissertation title, and day and time of the FPO will be done in paper form as well as electronically (via e-mail).  For virtual FPOs, the public posting will be via department e-mail to the members of the department and any other interested parties within the University.  In both cases, in-person or virtual FPO, postings must still be distributed at least three days prior to the FPO and must indicate that an electronic version of the dissertation is available, upon request, to anyone in the department who wishes to inspect it. The posting should also include instructions for how interested parties may join the videoconferenced FPO.
  • Electronic Signature: Currently electronic signatures are already accepted on most forms.  E-mail approvals for signatures will also be accepted in all cases.  E-mails should originate from the signers’ University accounts.  A copy of any e-mail approval should be appended by the department to the FPO filing.  In July, the Graduate School will introduce an electronic workflow that will eliminate the need for signatures on most forms.  
  • Submit dissertation PDF to Princeton’s ProQuest ETD site; mail a bound copy of your dissertation, prepared according to the specifications in the Dissertation Formatting Guidelines to the library within six months of the FPO (Attn: Sara Logue, Special Collections Suite, Firestone Library, One Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544-2098); 

Preparing for the FPO

Final paperwork must be submitted a maximum of two weeks after the FPO date or on the degree deadline, whichever comes first.  Please review the degree deadlines when planning for your final defense. 

More Than Two Months Before FPO

  • Review the Mudd Library Dissertation Format Requirements;
  • Submit final chapters to your adviser(s) for review;
  • Confirm your principal readers and examiners and that your committee meets Graduate School and departmental requirements;
  • Confirm FPO date and location. Note: If you are serving as an Assistant-in-Instruction (AI) in the semester that you are defending the dissertation, consult with your department about the FPO date to ensure that you may remain enrolled and eligible to serve as an AI through the end of the term. Enrollment continues only through the end of the month in which a student's FPO is held. Any exceptions must be discussed with Academic Affairs in the Graduate School.

At Least Six Weeks Before FPO

  • Distribute a final draft of your dissertation to readers;
  • Incorporate suggested edits into your dissertation.

Four Weeks Before FPO

  • Submit a final copy of your dissertation to your department;
  • Complete the advanced degree application through TigerHub.  
  • If applicable, discuss the need to embargo the dissertation with your adviser(s).

For an application to be considered complete, the following materials (as PDFs) must be included:

Materials Submitted by the Student Approximately Four Weeks Before FPO

  • A copy of the title page, correctly formatted (sample title page);
  • A copy of the abstract (350 words or less);
  • Ph.D. Dissertation Embargo Request and Approval form (if applicable; most students will not require this).

Materials Submitted by the Department to the Graduate School No Less than Two Weeks Before FPO

  • Request to Hold Final Public Oral form;
  • Prior Presentation and Publication form reviewed and approved by adviser(s);
  • Reader Reports completed by principal readers of the dissertation;

A CV of any external examiner or reader. Committee membership from someone outside the University must be approved by the Graduate School prior to completion of the advanced degree application.

At Least Three Days Before FPO

Confirm that your FPO has been approved and the announcement has been posted.

Day of FPO


Following the FPO

Before submitting final paperwork to the Graduate School, graduate students must take the following steps:   

  • Submit dissertation PDF to Princeton’s ProQuest ETD site, paying any applicable publishing and copyright fees (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions);
  • Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates (hard copy of the "Certificate of Completion" page of the SED);
  • Complete the Exit Survey (hard copy of the "Confirmation of Completion" page must be submitted);
  • Complete the checkout process for students departing the University in TigerHub.

Once all actions are complete, graduate students must log in to TigerHub to complete the submission of the final paperwork process.  All final paperwork is normally submitted immediately following the successful completion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense or by the degree deadline, whichever comes first.

Please note, students are required to submit a bound copy of your dissertation, prepared according to the specifications in the Dissertation Formatting Guidelines to the library within six months of the FPO (Attn: Sara Logue, Special Collections Suite, Firestone Library, One Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544-2098); 

Enrollment and Benefits following the FPO

Enrollment and benefits typically end the first of the month following the successful defense.  Students may wish to consult benefits and status after the FPO for information about benefits you may receive between FPO and degree conferral. Additional information can be found here: Status Changes and End of Student Benefits.