Advanced Degree Application Process

Modified Guidelines for FPOs in Response to COVID-19

Given the importance of the Final Public Oral (FPO) and the submission of final materials to a Ph.D. student’s ability to complete the degree, we are posting an updated set of FPO-related instructions to offer guidance in light of the University’s response to COVID-19.  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 specifically for students who will or who intend to be on the June 2020 degree list or who plan to defend prior to our return to normal operations at the University.  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. 

  • Videoconferenced FPOs: All FPOs that occur during the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, and until announced otherwise, should be held remotely, by videoconference (Zoom or Skype, for example). This includes remote participation of the examiners and the graduate student.  Since remote participation is expected for the remainder of the semester, departments do not need to request or receive approval from the Graduate School to conduct the FPO remotely.  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 will need to be submitted as a PDF, and not a printed copy.
  • Public Posting of 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 via e-mail by the department to the members of the department and any other interested parties within the University.  Such 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: 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 signers’ University accounts.  A copy of any e-mail approval should be appended by the department to the FPO filing.  Students should append any e-mail approval to their submission of final forms after the FPO.
  • Dissertation materials and Mudd Library:  Students should submit dissertation materials to the Library remotely by emailing mudd@princeton.edu with their FPO approval documentation, as well as a PDF of their embargo approval (if applicable). The bound copy should be mailed to the library within six months of the FPO (Attn: Sara Logue, Special Collections Suite, Firestone Library, One Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544-2098). All Mudd Library submission requirements, including uploading the digital copy to ProQuest, remain in place. A student’s digital submission will be reviewed at the time that their email arrives at mudd@princeton.edu (even if the bound copy has not yet been received), and library staff will notify the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School when their submission is approved.
  • Checkout For Students Departing the University form: The Graduate School will not require the standard Checkout form signed by Firestone Library (and University Housing where appropriate) to be submitted along with final degree paperwork.  The Graduate School will be in contact with Firestone Library staff regarding the library account status of those students set to appear on the June, 2020 degree list. If there is an issue with a student's library account, Graduate School staff from Academic Affairs will reach out directly to the student.  Please note: We understand that it may not be possible for graduating students to physically return all books prior to the given degree deadline, but we hope students make every effort to do so.  For those who remain on campus, the external book drop slot will remain accessible.  For those that want or need to return books to the library by shipping them back, please consult the following link: https://faq.library.princeton.edu/faq/290890.
  • Final Paperwork: Students (or graduate program administrators, on their behalf) should submit final paperwork to the Graduate School electronically by sending a PDF of all required forms (with appended e-mails for approval by examiners, as necessary) to gsdmg@princeton.edu, copying alyssa.pienciak@princeton.edu. Required forms are noted in the “Timeline” and “Quick Reference” sections, below.  If there are questions or issues around this, please follow up with the appropriate assistant dean (as noted above).

Timeline:

Degree dates and deadlines remain the same as those posted on our website.  For a student to be awarded the Ph.D. on a degree date, the student must have successfully completed the FPO, submitted all materials to Mudd Library, and submitted all final paperwork to the Graduate School by the correct corresponding deadline date.  The degree deadline for the June 2, 2020, degree list is May 19, 2020, by 5:00 p.m. Please remember that the dissertation title page should reflect the month and year of the date the degree is conferred, and not the actual date of the FPO.  The broader timeline to the FPO outlined below, in the normal guidelines, remains the same.

Quick Reference for the Day of your FPO:

  • Defend!
  • Confirm that the Final Public Oral Exam Report has the appropriate signature (chair of FPO committee or DGS), either digital or with appended e-mail stating approval by the signer.  Such e-mails should originate from the signer’s University account.
  • Submit the following items digitally via email to mudd@princeton.edu normally immediately after the successful completion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense:
    • Final Public Oral Exam Report signed by chair of FPO Committee or DGS;
    • E-mail confirmation of submission of the dissertation to ProQuest/UMD ETD;
    • Payment of publishing and copyright fees, if applicable (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions). Studets should contact Mudd Library staff with any questions regarding payment;
    • If an embargo was requested, a copy of the Graduate School's embargo approval.
  • Submit final paperwork, which consists of the three documents below, to the Graduate School.  Students should submit final paperwork electronically by sending a PDF of all required forms (with appended e-mails for approval by examiners, as necessary) to gsdmg@princeton.edu, copying alyssa.pienciak@princeton.edu, normally immediately after the successful completion of the FPO and submission of materials to Mudd, but in no case later than the degree deadline or two weeks after the successful defense, whichever is sooner:

Once the Graduate School receives final paperwork from or on behalf of the student as well as confirmation from Mudd Library staff of approval of dissertation submission (as noted above), the student's name will be added to the degree list.

Below in full are the normal instructions for FPOs.


Preparing for the Dissertation and Final Public Oral (FPO)

The two final requirements for the Ph.D. are:

  • A completed dissertation that has been read and approved by at least two readers;
  • Successfully passing the final public oral (FPO), an examination of the dissertation material. This requirement acts as the dissertation defense.

Please review the information on degree requirements, which outlines all requirements necessary for graduate study at Princeton University. To be eligible to graduate, a student needs to be in good standing with the University, have completed all departmental and Graduate School requirements, and submitted all the required paperwork by the degree deadline.

In preparing for the the FPO, students should review the information below, which outlines the process and timeline and provides links to important policies and documents.

Degree Dates

Degrees are conferred by Princeton University five times a year.  Dissertation title pages should reflect the month and year of the date the degree is conferred, and not the actual date of defense.  For a student to be awarded the Ph.D. on a degree date, the student must have successfully completed the FPO and returned all final paperwork to the Graduate School by the correct corresponding deadline date.

Degree Deadline for 2019-20:Degree to be Awarded on:
Friday, September 13, 2019Saturday, September 28, 2019
Thursday, October 31, 2019Saturday, November 23, 2019
Tuesday, December 31, 2019Saturday, January 18, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020Sunday, April 4, 2020
Tuesday, May 19, 2020Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Embargoes

The Graduate School can approve up to a two-year embargo of dissertation work, most often awarded to pursue book publication of dissertation materials. An embargo places up to a two-year hold on the online publication of the dissertation. Most dissertations will not require an embargo. For more information on embargoes review the Embargo Policy. An embargo must be requested when submitting the degree application by completing the Ph.D. Dissertation Embargo Request and Approval form within the degree application system.

If a dissertation needs to be reviewed for possible patentable results and subsequent patent application either by the University or by a non-University agent, or if it must be reviewed by an outside sponsor for the proprietary information or results, then these processes must be completed before the student initiates the online advanced degree application process and the department requests to hold the final public oral examination.


Timeline to FPO

More than two months before:

  • 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 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:

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

More than two weeks before:

  • Submit a final copy of thesis to the department;
  • Complete advanced degree application through TigerHub.

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

Materials submitted by the student
  • 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).
Materials submitted by the department
  • Request to hold final public oral;
  • 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.

Three days before:

  • Confirm that your FPO announcement has been posted

Day of FPO:

  • Defend!
  • Confirm that the FPO examination report has the signature of FPO chair or DGS.

The following items are due in Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library normally immediately after the successful completion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense:

  • Final Public Oral Exam Report signed by chair of FPO Committee or DGS (1 original plus 1 copy);
  • One bound copy of the dissertation;
  • Print-out of confirmation e-mail from submission of the dissertation to ProQuest/UMD ETD;
  • Payment of publishing and copyright fees, if applicable (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions);
  • If an embargo was requested, a copy of the Graduate School's embargo approval.

During the Mudd Library closure, dissertation submissions will be accepted at the Special Collections Suite on C floor in Firestone Library between March 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021. Students will need to visit the Access Office in the main lobby and present a photo ID to gain access to the Special Collections Suite. Questions can be directed to mudd@princeton.edu, or call (609)258-6345.

The four documents below must be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, 104 Clio Hall, normally immediately after the successful completion of final public oral exam, but in no case later than the degree deadline or two weeks after the successful defense, whichever is sooner:

All documents must be received by the degree deadline.

Students may wish to consult Benefits and Status after the FPO for information about benefits you may receive between FPO and degree conferral.