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Candidacy, Oral Examinations and Thesis

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        Approval of Candidacy 
        Thesis Committee 
        Announcement of Thesis Defense 
        Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis 
        Thesis Submission Regulations and Procedures 
 

Approval of Candidacy

Candidacy marks a midpoint in the course of graduate education. Achieving candidacy for the PhD/DMA signals that a graduate student has: (a) completed required course work, (b) passed required exams to demonstrate his/her comprehensive grasp of the subject area, (c) demonstrated the ability for clear oral and written communication, and (d) shown the ability to carry on scholarly work in his/her subject area. Requirements for achieving candidacy for the thesis master’s degree are determined at the departmental level. The department is also authorized to grant waivers or substitutions of specific course requirements, but not to make exceptions to university requirements.

Students enrolled in research degree programs submit their petitions for candidacy for a master’s or doctoral degree through the department chair to the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. In the petition sent to the dean, the department chair identifies the student’s thesis director, recommends a thesis committee, certifies that the applicant has fulfilled the departmental requirements, and provides a course transcript as evidence that work completed within the department is of high quality. Students in nonthesis master’s programs, including professional master’s programs, must submit a certification of nonthesis master’s through their department chair to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

PhD/DMA students must be approved for candidacy before the beginning of the ninth semester of their enrollment at Rice. Master’s students must be approved for candidacy before the beginning of the fifth semester of their enrollment at Rice.  However, in order to qualify for a given commencement, they must meet the submission deadline for that commencement per the Academic Calendar External Link.  This date falls at the end of October for December degree conferral and the end of February for May degree conferral.

Students who are unable to meet the university time boundary for candidacy may petition the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies or his/her designee for an extension of time to candidacy.  Students who exceed their time boundaries without an approved extension request will be charged a fee of $125 for reinstatement to good standing.  Students who exceed their time boundaries and do not receive an extension to their time to candidacy are subject to immediate dismissal by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Thesis Committee 

The thesis committee administers the oral examination for the student’s thesis defense and has final approval/disapproval authority and responsibility for the written thesis.

A thesis committee is composed of at least three members. Two, including the committee chair, must be members of the student’s department faculty; in doctoral thesis committees one member must have his or her primary appointment in another department within the university. At least three members of the committee must meet one of the following requirements:

• Tenured or tenure-track members of the Rice faculty
• Research faculty holding the rank of faculty fellow, senior faculty fellow, or distinguished faculty fellow
• Qualified individuals who have been certified as thesis committee members by the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies

The composition of the thesis committee must always meet the guidelines mentioned above, with the following exceptions:
Interdisciplinary programs (Applied Physics & SSPB)- The chair of the thesis committee is either the advisor or in the host department of the student, and is affiliated with the program.  The second member of the committee is affiliated with the program.  The third committee member is neither in the student’s host department nor affiliated with the program.  Thesis committee make-up is approved by both the head of the host department and the program.  The formal structure of the thesis committee for the programs is in the General Announcements and regularly reviewed by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
Master of Architecture- The committee chair must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. Other committee members can be tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure track Rice faculty.

The thesis director must be a tenured or tenure-track member of the Rice University faculty or a research faculty holding the rank of faculty fellow, or distinguished faculty fellow. Faculty whose primary appointment is at another institution may serve as thesis director if approved by the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. Emeritus professors may not accept new graduate students without the approval of the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies and an appointment letter from the school dean.

The committee chair need not be the thesis director. The chair, however, must be either a tenured or tenure-track member of the major department or a research faculty member of the student's major department. In addition to the three required members, additional members of the committee may be selected with the approval of the department chair.

Candidates are responsible for keeping the members of their committee informed about the nature and progress of their research. They also must establish a schedule for thesis completion and review. The members of the committee, in turn, should review the thesis in a timely manner, approving a preliminary form of the thesis before scheduling the oral examination.

Announcement of Thesis Defense

Oral examinations for the doctoral degree must be announced at least 14 days in advance. Oral examination announcements are to be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by entering the information into the Graduate Students Thesis Defense Announcement form at http://events.rice.edu/rgs External Link.

Oral examinations for the master’s degree must be announced at least 7 days in advance in the same manner as the doctoral defense.

Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis

The public oral defense of a thesis is intended to be an examination of a completed body of work and should be scheduled only when the thesis is essentially completed. Students may take the final oral examination in defense of their thesis only after the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies approves their candidacy. All regulations in this section apply to both masters and doctoral theses, unless otherwise noted.

At least one copy of the thesis must be available in the departmental office not less than two calendar weeks prior to the date of the oral defense. The length of the oral examination and the subject matter on which the candidate is questioned are left to the judgment of the committee. The defense should be scheduled by the student after consultation with the thesis advisor, who agrees that the thesis is completed and ready to be defended. All oral thesis defenses must take place on the Rice University campus with the candidate and all thesis committee members in physical attendance. In exceptional cases, appeals to this requirement can be made in writing to the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. A candidate must be enrolled in the semester in which his or her oral examination is held. Students who defend during the summer must enroll in the summer session of classes. For the purpose of the oral defense only, enrollment in a semester is considered valid through the Friday of the first week of class of the following semester. Students passing the oral examination on or before the end of the first week of classes of any semester do not have to register for that or any subsequent semester even though they may be continuing to make minor revisions to the final copy of their thesis.

Should a candidate fail, the committee chair may schedule a second examination. Students who fail a second time will be dismissed from the university.

Students must submit a copy of their approval of candidacy form, signed by the thesis committee signifying successful defense of the thesis, to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies within one week after the oral examination.  Instructions to submit this form are located online at graduate.rice.edu/thesis External Link.  The original approval of candidacy form must be turned in when the thesis is submitted.

PhD and DMA students must defend their theses before the end of the 16th semester of their enrollment at Rice. Master’s students must defend their theses before the end of the eighth semester of their enrollment at Rice.  Students who are unable to meet the university time boundary for thesis defense may petition the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies or his/her designee for an extension of time to defense.  Students who exceed their time boundaries without an approved extension request will be charged a fee of $125 for reinstatement to good standing.  Students who exceed their time boundaries and do not receive an extension to their time to defense are subject to dismissal by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Thesis Submission Regulations and Procedures

The thesis is the principal record of a student’s work for an advanced degree. Instructions for online thesis submission and guidelines for thesis formatting are available at: graduate.rice.edu/thesis/ External Link.

Candidates who successfully pass the oral examination in defense of the thesis must submit the thesis to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies no later than six months from the date of the examination. If the thesis is not submitted by the end of the six-month period, the “pass” will be revoked and an additional oral defense will need to be scheduled. Applications for an extension without reexamination must be made by the candidate with the unanimous support of the thesis committee, endorsed by the school dean, and approved by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Extensions of this six-month period for completion without reexamination will be granted only in rare circumstances. Approved petitions for extension without reexamination received after the 6 month time boundary expired will be charged a fee of $125 for reinstatement to good standing.

Students must have the original signatures of each member of their thesis committee on two title pages of their dissertation. Students submitting a dissertation for the PhD, DArch, or DMA must fill out a Survey of Earned Doctorates form. All students submitting theses, whether for master’s or doctoral degrees, must complete a ProQuest/University Microfilms International (UMI) publishing contract.  Students must pay their thesis submission fee before submitting the thesis to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for degree approval.

All theses are permanently preserved in Rice’s Institutional Repository and are available via scholarship.rice.edu External Link shortly after the final submission of the thesis.  In limited cases, a student’s advisor may request an embargo of six months, one year, or two years; this is subject to approval by the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies or his/her designee.

Students have six months from the date of their defense to submit their thesis. However, in order to qualify for a given commencement, they must meet the submission deadline for that commencement per the Academic Calendar. This date falls on the last day of classes in the Fall and Spring semesters.

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Last Revised : August 12, 2016