"Students sometimes have a couple days work ahead of them to put it in final shape." BREATHE, THEN ANSWER Stumped by a question?Don't be afraid to take a moment to consider it, paraphrase it back for clarification or ask that it be restated, say faculty and recent grads.For example, students should consult them if they need to alter their methodology or circulate drafts, and to gather advance input if possible.
Ph D degrees are awarded three times each year, however the commencement ceremony is held once a year - at the end of May.
All completing students are eligible to participate in commencement in May regardless of whether the degree was received in October, February or May.
"In some cases, the dry run will be more challenging than the defense," he points out.
"Sometimes students ask harder questions than faculty." Many students say attending another student's defense helps them prepare and know what to expect.
Similarly, if you don't know the answer, it's better to say so and give the best answer you can, rather than digressing for a few minutes.
"Keep in mind that for the most part faculty are just asking questions to see if you can think critically—they are not trying to be difficult or stump you," says Miller.For example, are you expected to bring refreshments, or is that practice discouraged?Are you allowed to invite friends and family members, or is the defense open only to other graduate students or faculty? Should you hand a final copy of your dissertation to your committee a month in advance, or is two weeks the norm?"Know your committee members' likes, dislikes and pet peeves," she says."Ask people who have been through a defense with them, read their articles and surf the Web," for more information on their research expertise and specialty areas."Know where you will move, look, sit and take notes," says Pulver, who is finishing up his internship at the University of Kansas."The less you have to react to in the moment, the more focused you can be on the task at hand, which is to demonstrate you have strong knowledge of your project." DEVELOP THE RIGHT ATTITUDE Approaching the defense as a critically constructive experience is key, says Pargament.However, while the defense isn't supposed to be easy, students who learn what's expected, anticipate the hard-hitting questions, open themselves to feedback and, most importantly, remember to relax, should have no worries, say faculty and recent grads."The best advice I got before my defense was to enjoy myself," says Julia Sluzenski, Ph D, who earned her doctorate in cognitive psychology from Temple University last May.What's more, students shouldn't feel discouraged if their committee asks for minor revisions to their manuscript after the defense, he says."It's not at all uncommon for committee members to suggest a different analysis, some changes in a table, or to rework the discussion section to clarify a certain point," he says.