Advanced Degree Application Process

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


The Graduate School can approve a two-year embargo of dissertation work, most often awarded to pursue book publication of dissertation materials. An embargo places 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;
  • A $15.00 dissertation maintenance fee. (Visa or MasterCard only).
  • 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, or call (609)258-6345.

The four documents below must be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, 111 Clio Hall, normally immediately after the successful completion of final public oral exam, but in no case later than two weeks after the successful defense:

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.