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 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 FPO should be held remotely by videoconference (Zoom or Skype, for example) until further notice. 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 email 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 a 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 return slot, on the right side of the entrance to Firestone, will remain accessible. Returns of over 50 books should be scheduled with Circulation staff (fstcirc@princeton.edu).  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).

Deadlines for Dissertation Defense and Final Document Submission

All requirements must be met in advance in order for a student to be awarded a Ph.D. These requirements include completion of the FPO and all paperwork.  Final paperwork must be submitted a maximum of two weeks after the FPO date or on the degree deadline.  Please review the degree deadlines when planning for your final defense. 

Dissertation Embargoes

The Graduate School can approve an embargo for up to two full years.  Embargos are awarded to students who require a delay in the release of dissertation materials often to pursue book publication of the dissertation.  Before requesting an embargo, please review the Graduate School’s embargo policy.   In general, most dissertations do not require an embargo, but they are most often granted to allow for book publication of dissertation materials  

Embargoes can be awarded for six months to two years and prevent the dissertation from being accessed externally for the embargo period.  Only full two-year embargos may be renewed for up to an additional two years. If you wish to postpone publishing or allowing access to your completed Ph.D. dissertation for a period of 6 months, a year, or two years, you will need to apply for an embargo.   

More information on the embargo request process can be found on Dissertation Embargo Page

Preparing for the FPO

Students intending to defend should complete the Graduate School's Intent to Complete the Advanced Degree form.  The form should be filled out once a student has secured a date for the FPO and has confirmed that date with the department. After submitting the form, students will receive timely guidance to assist with the completion of final degree requirements and the submission of all final paperwork by the stated deadlines.


For a week-by-week timeline to help you prepare for the FPO, please see our information on the Timeline to the FPO.

Requirements for the FPO application

Students apply to hold their FPO by submitting the advanced degree application in TigerHub a minimum of two weeks prior to the intended FPO date.  

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. This approval email should be attached to the application.

Requirements Following FPO

The following four documents below must be submitted electronically to the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, 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:

  • Final Public Oral Exam Report, signed by Chair of FPO Committee or DGS and Mudd librarian;
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates ("Certificate of Completion" page of the SED);
  • Exit Survey ( "Confirmation of Completion" page must be submitted);
  • Checkout for Students Departing the University (must be completed by all currently enrolled students and ET/DCC students who still have library privileges).

Students should submit final paperwork to the Graduate School electronically by sending a PDF of all required forms (with appended emails for approval by examiners, as necessary) to gsdmg@princeton.edu with copy to  alyssa.pienciak@princeton.edu

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.

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.