As the Graduate School Bulletin states, the "dissertation is expected to be a mature and competent piece of writing, embodying the results of significant and original research." You are expected to work closely with your Ph.D. committee chair and committee members in the course of researching and writing the dissertation.


  • Work out a schedule for submission of chapters with the committee chair
  • Assemble your entire committee in the last semester prior to defending, to talk about the final writing stage and any expectations the committee may have
  • Provide all committee members with a complete, final dissertation draft in the first month of the semester of the scheduled dissertation defense. The examiners are your 4-5 person Ph.D. committee, augmented by any members of the regular graduate faculty in the department who wish to participate. 
  • DGS must inform all Cultural Anthropology faculty members of the time and place of the defense. All Ph.D. committee members must participate in the defense, with no more than one member participating via conference call. 
  • In accordance with Graduate School regulations, a student who fails the examination may request permission to take it a second time (for the time limitations and other specifications governing the writing of the dissertation, the student is referred to the Graduate School Bulletin and the Guide for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations.

Deadline & Extensions

In keeping with the guidelines of the University Graduate School, we require students to finish their Ph.D. work, including defense of their dissertation, by the end of the 8th year. Any student seeking an extension must submit a petition for approval to the Cultural Anthropology Director of Graduate Studies explaining any extraordinary circumstances that would make such an extension necessary. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, following the general guidelines set by the Graduate School, in the Ph.D. Degree Requirements. The department will do whatever it can to assist international students with visa issues during their time in the program and after they graduate, but will not be able to grant extensions beyond the 8th year for visa reasons alone.