Thesis research is typically completed within 4-6 years of tenure in the Program. The written thesis is crafted by the student under the direction of the Major Sponsor.
The Thesis Defense (Final Examination for the degree of PhD) is scheduled with Graduate School Office at least 30 days in advance. Normally, a completed written thesis is submitted to the Examining Committee two weeks in advance of the Thesis Defense date. The Thesis Defense is public (friends and family are welcome) and begins with a 40-60 min seminar style presentation by the student that summarizes thesis research. This is followed by the departure of all attendees, other than the student, Examining Committee and members of the graduate school faculty that wish to observe the exam. Similar to the committee assembled for the ACE, the Thesis Examining Committee consists of five members: the Special Thesis Advisory Committee (major and two minor sponsors), one outside examiner (selected by the student and major sponsor) and a chairperson (appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School). A successful oral defense and acceptance of the written thesis will result in a recommendation to the Dean for award of the PhD degree in Pharmacology.
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It is expected that a student will have submitted for publication, or published, a first-author, peer–reviewed paper of original research before defending his/her thesis, as well as participated as co-author on other papers and chapters or reviews, but there is no absolute requirement to do so before defending the thesis; this is a decision that is made by the student’s Special Committee (Thesis Advisory Committee) in consultation with the student and the student's major advisor. If a research article is not yet submitted at the time of the thesis defense, it is required that the student's PhD thesis research, as judged by the Special Committee and the thesis advisor, is of high enough quality that it would merit publication in a high quality, peer-reviewed scientific journal.