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Remote Dissertation/Thesis Defense in a Public Health Emergency

Updated March 23, 2020

The Graduate Council passed a policy to allow for remote thesis or dissertation defense in a public health emergency.  Please follow the guidance below for thesis and dissertation defenses scheduled from now until the end of the semester.  Note that this guidance has changed due to recent changes in campus guidance for employees. 

  • If buildings are locked and on-campus staff are minimized (March 18 to at least March 27):  Thesis and dissertation defenses must occur remotely. Provision must be made for participation of the campus community in the public presentation portion of the defense.

  • If buildings are open, telework mandates have been lifted, but on-campus instruction remains suspended: Dissertation defenses may occur on campus using social distancing.  Permission can be requested for the student, chair, and/or dean’s representative to participate remotely if they are unable to return to campus. If the student and advisor agree, permission can be requested to hold the defense remotely, but provision must be made for participation of the campus community in the public presentation portion of the defense.

  • If campus is open and on-campus instruction has resumed: Dissertation defenses must occur on campus.  Permission can be requested for the student, chair, and/or dean’s representative to participate remotely if they are unable to return to campus. 

The deadline for submission of dissertations is April 21 for Spring graduation; the deadline for master’s theses is April 28.  At this time, we will approve requests for remote participation or remote defense only for defenses scheduled before these dates.  We will determine at a later date whether it will be necessary to allow remote defenses for students defended after these dates.* 

To request permission for remote participation by student, chair, dean’s representative, or any committee member; or to request permission for a remote defense, please complete the form at go.umd.edu/gs-rrd.

Please read this page for advice on how to maximize the remote defense experience for the student and committee.  

Steve Fetter
Associate Provost and Dean, The Graduate School 
University of Maryland, College Park

*Students who defend and submit their theses and dissertations and all supporting documents by May 29 will graduate in Summer 2020.  They will not need to register for Summer 2020, and will incur no additional tuition or fees. Students who are unable to meet the May 29 deadline and who wish to graduate in Summer 2020 will be required to register for one credit of 799 or 899.  Students must defend and submit by July 31 (dissertations) or August 14 (master’s theses).