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The examination committee will review the thesis and conduct an oral examination designed to test the student's knowledge of the thesis subject and of related fields.
The thesis and the oral examination are adjudicated at the same time; however, they are given different ratings. For example, the student may receive a Pass on the oral examination but may receive a Fail on the thesis. To be eligible to graduate, the student must receive a Pass on both the thesis and the oral examination.
The supervisor shall chair the thesis oral examination. The chair is responsible for ensuring that the examination proceeds according to the FGS Guidelines & Procedures for Oral Examinations.
It is essential that all members of the examination committee participate in the examination for which the committee is charged. If the FGS has advanced notification that the supervisor or an examiner cannot attend the examination, the following can occur:
In cases of emergency, where there is little or no notice of the absence of a committee member (i.e., sudden illness), the situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the supervisor and/or FGS.
Normally, the oral thesis examination “open”, enabling faculty members and students to attend. The student completes the 7 - Announcement of the Final Thesis Oral Examination form which details the student’s educational and scholarly accomplishments.
The FGS will prepare a formal announcement that is placed on the FGS and the student’s program website. Guests may register with FGS to attend the oral examination. This is normally done approximately one week in advance of the oral examination.
There may be a case in which the oral examination may be closed, for example, when the results of the thesis must be kept confidential for a certain length of time, such as a patent pending. In such cases, the examination committee and graduate program designate shall recommend such action to the FGS. If approved, it will be closed to all but the examination committee and the Dean of FGS.
The decision of the examination committee will be based both on the a) written thesis and b) student’s ability to defend it. The examiners will consider the merits of the oral examination and the written thesis (see Figure 2) they will also determine the nature of and procedures for approval of any revisions that will be required prior to submission to FGS. All examination committee members must sign the Master's Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report indicating their decision.
The decision shall be that of the majority, with the external committee member having decision-making authority equal to the rest of the examination committee members. If a decision cannot be reached, the supervisor shall record the recommendation of each committee member in the report form. This is submitted to the FGS who will lead a discussion on an appropriate course of action.
Depending upon the reason for the Fail in the oral examination or the thesis, the committee may recommend to the FGS that the student be allowed a second attempt on the oral examination or resubmit the thesis. If the FGS agrees with this recommendation, at the second attempt the examination committee must select one of two adjudication categories, Pass or Fail. Students will not be allowed to resubmit their thesis at the second attempt. Any student who is granted permission for a second attempt and receives a Fail on either the final thesis or the oral examination must withdraw from the program and will receive a Fail on their transcript.
The supervisor, who is the chair, is responsible for procuring signatures from all examination committee members at the time of the examination, or as soon as possible after the examination. All committee members must sign the Master's Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report, indicating their decision regarding the thesis and oral examination.
All committee members agree that no revisions are needed. The student receives a clear Pass.
Minor copy-editing revisions may be needed. The supervisor must approve the revisions before the student can submit their thesis into the DTheses repository and apply to graduate.
The revisions to the thesis are sufficiently substantial (e.g., major reworking of one section, or the committee is not satisfied with the general presentation of the thesis). Approval of changes will involve the supervisor as well as committee members.
The thesis is unacceptable. It does not meet the standards of a Master’s thesis. There may evidence of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism.
Students must pass an oral examination about the thesis and matters relating thereto.
The presentation accurately described the research, and the student was able to accurately and articulately answer the questions.
The presentation of the research was poor with inadequate description of the study. The student answered the questions poorly, indicating a lack of knowledge in the research they conducted.
There may be unexpected or extenuating circumstances that cause the oral examination to be adjourned, such as severe anxiety, technology problems of 30 minutes or more, illness, or an absent committee member.
Updated November 08, 2019 by Student & Academic Services