Steps For a Successful Defense

General Preparation Information

All master's and doctoral students are required to give a public presentation of their research and pass a final oral examination. There are several steps that are required before this exam. Be sure to review the Graduate School's steps to degree completion and deadlines provided for Master's and doctoral students. Many details are also provided in the Graduate School's Catalog of Policies.

Check and Update your Program of Study

You must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 on both your Program and cumulative graduate transcript to schedule the final oral examination. All course work with a grade of I appearing on the program of study must be completed prior to scheduling the final oral examination. As you prepare for your defense, you should review OSU transcripts and make sure the classes you actually took match what is on your program of study. If they don’t, you can update your program of study by submitting a Petition for Change in Program form. Ideally this should be completed 15 weeks prior to your defense. Note that you only need to update your program of study if you didn't take all of the classes listed on your program, you didn't pass with a C or higher, or you have an incomplete grade. At this time you should also make sure that all of your thesis credits were taken at the correct level (FW 503 for Master's students and FW 603 for doctoral students).

Check your Graduate Committee Appointments

At this point, all students should verify that their committee members' appointments are current, especially courtesy appointments. You can check with your committee members try to complete the Exam Scheduling form. You will not be able to schedule your defense if your committee members are not properly appointed. If you have any issues with appointments, your major professor should provide a current CV for courtesy appointed members to the FWCS Business Manager to begin the renewal process, which can take several weeks.

At this time, FW Master's students will also need to add a Graduate Council Representative (GCR) to their committee. This is a Graduate School requirement and the GCR is not the same as the Research Reviewer who participated in your proposal defense earlier in the degree. PhD students are required to have a GCR on their committee for throughout their entire program so no changes to PhD committees are necessary during defense preparations. 

If you have questions about this or any other degree requirements set by the graduate school, Karen Hanson ( should be your initial point of contact.

Financial Support

A Thesis or Dissertation Completion Award is a competitive award, which supports outstanding master’s and doctoral students who are in the final stages of their theses or dissertations by offering an award to cover the cost of three Ecampus graduate credits of tuition for one academic term only. Please keep in mind that students need to be enrolled in at least three graduate credits to be eligible to defend (per the continous enrollment policy).

The award, useful in situations where GTA opportunities do not exist or where grant funding is insufficient to fund the student’s final term, enables students to focus on research and writing with the goal of improving the quality of their work and expediting time to degree completion.

The FWCS Department may nominate no more than one Fisheries and one Wildlife student (total) per award cycle. Nominations must be made during the term prior to the anticipated completion term. Requests for retroactive funding will not be considered.