Skip to main content

Remote Defense Request

This page contains important information related to the remote defense requests for graduate students defending their final oral thesis or dissertation. 

Please click on the text below to be taken to the corresponding section of this page.

Remote Defense Overview

Current Graduate School policy allows for a committee member to request permission to participate in a thesis or dissertation defense remotely, and only in exceptional cases would remote participation be permitted for the student, a committee chair, and/or Dean’s Representative (for dissertation defenses). Further details about the remote defense policy, including qualifying exemptions, are below.

For qualifying exemptions, the committee chair (or designee) must request remote participation at least 10 business days before the oral thesis or dissertation defense date. To make this request, please go to  Please note that only one request per student is required.  If duplicate requests are submitted, we will only review the first request we receive.

To complete this form you will need to provide the following:

  • Student’s information, including their name, UID, and email address;
  • Dean’s Representative information, including their name, UID, and email address (dissertations only);
  • For each remote participant, justification for why it is not possible to participate in person; and
  • Acknowledgement of the Graduate School’s policy related to remote defenses.

Once we receive the form, it will be reviewed by the Graduate School Dean or designee.  The committee chair and Dean’s representative (dissertations only) will be sent an email with the approval or denial of this request.  No member of the committee may participate remotely unless permission has been granted in writing by the Graduate School.

Please note that the Graduate School only requires remote defenses requests for students’ final oral thesis/dissertation defense. Each graduate program sets their own requirements for examinations and proposal or prospectus defenses. 

The Graduate School has developed guidance and advice for successful remote defenses, which you can find here.

Remote Defense Policy

As stated in our policy on remote participation in a thesis defense or a dissertation defense:

  • The committee must be physically present in the examination room during the entire defense and during the committee's private deliberations following the examination.
  • Participation by telephone is not permitted under any circumstances. Remote participation by video teleconferencing is permitted under the following circumstances:
    • Permission to conduct a remote-participation defense must be obtained by the dissertation chair from the Graduate School in advance. In making this request, the chair must indicate in writing that they have read the rules for a remote defense listed below.
    • Video conferencing software must be used that allows all participants to see and hear each other during the entire defense.
    • The candidate, the committee chair (or at least one of the co-chairs), and the Dean’s Representative must all be present in the examination room; none may be at a remote site except for under highly unusual circumstances that restrict travel or in-person participation.
    • If necessary, other members of the committee may participate from one or more remote sites as long as the conferencing software supports the rules of conduct of the defense. Permission for remote participation must be approved in advance by the Dean of the Graduate School. The request for remote participation must provide a compelling reason and/or explanation as to why each remote committee member cannot be physically present.
    • The remote participants must connect to the defense in a manner that will ensure that all participants are visible and audible and that the connection is stable and available throughout the scheduled time of the defense.
    • The Dean’s Representative is responsible for ensuring that all requirements for remote participation are met, that the remote participation was uninterrupted, and if interrupted, that the defense was paused until all remote participants were fully restored.
    • Units can opt to offer online synchronous viewing options even when all committee members are in-person, with the defending student’s consent.

Qualifying Policy Exemptions

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School will consider exemptions to the in-person defense policy on an individual basis. Remote participation by the student or committee chair, or Dean’s Representative will be permitted in exceptional and compelling circumstances such as:

Please note that convenience is not sufficient justification for a remote defense. It is the responsibility of chairs/co-chairs to find suitable times for defenses. We encourage advance planning in scheduling defenses. 

The Graduate School recognizes that hybrid defenses can present unique challenges that may diminish students' capacity to successfully defend their theses or dissertations. Committees are encouraged to schedule hybrid defenses in rooms that are equipped with the appropriate technology. Alternatively, the chair of a committee, or their designee, can request full remote participation for the entire committee under the following conditions

  • A student qualifies for remote participation and the student prefers to have a fully remote defense with all committee members online.
  • More than one committee member qualifies for remote participation and the student prefers to have a fully remote defense with all committee members online.

Throughout the spring 2022 semester the Graduate School will follow campus guidance on in-person courses. When courses are in person, defenses will proceed in person, unless committee member(s) qualify for an exemption to the in-person defense policy.

Emergency Approvals for Remote Defenses

If, shortly prior to a scheduled defense, a committee member and/or the student need to quarantine or have children sent home from school/daycare for quarantine, please submit a new request. We will review those quickly. An email to in those cases will expedite review and is preferable to a phone call to the Graduate School’s front desk (301-405-3644). 

If you have any questions, please email

Report of Examining Committee (REC)

Please note that a Report of the Examining Committee (REC) form request is required for all thesis and dissertation defenses regardless of whether the defense is in person or remote. All thesis and dissertation chairs, or their designates, are required to submit a request for the electronic report of the examining committee ten business days before the scheduled final oral defense. As of fall 2021, the old hardcopy of the REC will no longer be accepted.  REC’s must be signed/approved and processed using Adobe Sign.

For more information about REC requests, please go to If you have any questions, please email


Updated 6/27/2022

Back to Top