Academics | Candidacy & Defense

Last Semester Timeline

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A. Pre-defense process

H. Day of defense

B. Revision in committee members

I. Post-defense / VPN

C. Set defense date

J. Final thesis submission

D. Confirm last stipend payment

K. Conferral deadlines

E. Submit copies of thesis

L. Leaving Rice

F. Register the thesis defense

M. Post-doc position

G. Approval of Candidacy form

N. Staff position

A. Pre-defense process

A candidate must be enrolled in the semester they defend or through Friday of the first week of the class of the following semester.

  • Confirm that a "Petition for Approval of Candidacy for a doctoral degree" ('Approval of Candidacy') form is submitted

    • Ph.D. - before the ninth semester

    • Master's - before the fifth semester

  • Confirm with your adviser that you are ready to defend 6+ months before your defense.

  • Notify OISS (International Students)

    • Make an appointment with OISS 4-6 months before your defense.

    • If you need to, apply for OPT. OPT gives F-1 students 12 months of "temporary employment (work or volunteer) for practical training," directly related to the student's major area of study. A person can only have 90 days of unemployment in the whole year of OPT. It can take 90+ days to obtain OPT status.

  • Notify your committee 3+ months before your defense

    • Your committee should consist of the committee chair, a faculty member in your department, a faculty member with an appointment in another department within Rice, and an optional fourth committee member

  • Notify your graduate coordinator 3+ months before your defense.

B. Revision in committee members

The thesis committee which hears the oral defense must be the same as the committee on the Candidacy Approval form. If a change to your thesis committee is needed, please confer with your graduate program administrator as soon as possible prior to your defense, and fill out the form here. All changes must be approved by the DGS, Department Chair or Chair of the Graduate Committee, and Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies prior to the oral defense. We will need to generate a completely new approval of candidacy form and thesis title page form to be completed via Adobe sign.

If the student requires a change in the thesis committee:

  • Fill out the Request for Committee Revision form.
  • have the Chair of the department, the Chair of the graduate committee, or the Director of Graduate Studies sign the form, which indicates approval of the department for this change.
  • The graduate program administrator should then submit the revision to Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies via the GPS OnBase Workflow.
  • Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies will revise the thesis committee, generate a new Approval of Candidacy and Thesis Title Page form, and send it via Adobe Sign again for completion.

Please note that until further notice, students may defend either in person, by Zoom, or both. This includes the generation of an Electronic Approve of Candidacy and Thesis title page through Adobe Cloud. The thesis submission process is now fully electronic. This will go initially via email to the student who will first fill out the form. There will not be a webform for this process, but they should know that it is coming and to be looking for it. Unfortunately, every time the committee changes we will need to generate a new form.

C. Set defense date

  • Approve the date for defense with your committee 2-3 months before you want to defend

  • Reserve the room (date and time) after you set the date and time with your committee.

  • Email your committee members with the final defense date, time, location after the location is reserved.

  • Email your graduate administrator with the final defense date, time, location after the location is reserved.

D. Confirm last stipend payment

  • 2-3 months before you defend, discuss with your adviser when the last day for your stipend will be (ends on 15th or 30/31st).

  • 2-3 months before you defend, tell your graduate administrator what the last day for your stipend will be. They will confirm with your adviser.

E. Submit copies of your thesis

  • Submit a copy of thesis to your defense committee and ask if an electronic or hard copy is preferred.

    • Ph.D. - 14 days prior to your defense

    • Master's - 7 days prior to your defense

  • Submit a copy of thesis to your graduate administrator and ask if an electronic or hard copy is preferred.

    • Ph.D. - 14 days prior to your defense

    • Master's - 7 days prior to your defense

F. Register your thesis defense

Register your defense with GPS at The announcement will then be posted on by GPS. Defense announcements no longer require a location, but will require a zoom link to maintain the public nature of thesis defenses. All thesis defense events are required to be held virtually. For tips on how to approach an online thesis defense, click here.

  • Ph.D. - Submit the registration at least 14 days before your defense

  • Master's - Submit the registration at least 7 days before your defense

G. Approval of Candidacy form

Once the defense is registered, the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will confirm the thesis committee with your department chair, DGS or administrator, and then:

  • GPS will generate an electronic Approval of Candidacy form and Thesis Title Page through Adobe Cloud. This form will initially go to you, the student, who will fill it out first. There will not be a webform for this process. Be aware that the form will come to you via email so be on the lookout.

  • Every time there is a change in committee, a new form will be needed.

  • Both you, the student, and your graduate program administrator will be notified when this is ready.

H. Day of defense

Once you defend:

  • Finish filling out the first parts of the thesis form as discussed in section G above.

  • Once you sign this form, it will go to your committee to sign and verify that the defense was passed. They can sign in parallel.

  • Once all committee members have confirmed the defense was passed, then the student will complete the thesis title page through Adobe Sign, ideally after all thesis corrections have been completed.

  • Once complete, it will go back to the committee for signature, approving the final thesis.

  • Once all of the committee members have signed will get a final copy to be validated when the student finalizes their thesis defense.

  • The student will fill out the Original Approval of Candidacy form before the defense. It will then go to the committee to sign. The committee will sign.

  • You, the student, will get notifications in each phase. Once all of the committee members have signed, the student will print the .pdf of the form. They will separate the two pages and upload them as before - (A) the Original Approval of Candidacy as an administrative file and (B) the thesis title page (with the electronic signatures) combined with the manuscript and uploaded as the “Manuscript in PDF”.

  • Once the thesis submission is final and everything has been verified in, you, the student will fill out the webform here, replacing the visit to the GPS and OTR office.

  • GPS will review the thesis submission remotely and sign the form accordingly. You will get this form back as a receipt once complete.

  • GPS will also sign the Original Approval of Candidacy. You and your graduate program administrator will get a copy of this.

  • The thesis will be published with the electronic title page if there are not embargoes on the thesis.

  • More information on thesis defense here.

I. Post-defense

  • Within one week of your defense, log in to and upload a PDF of the defended version of your thesis and the signed "Approval of Candidacy" form. More information here.

  • Registration post defense: there is no academic requirement to register following your defense if you are not receiving a stipend or is allowable with visa status, even if you have thesis changes to make. If you do need access to campus resources after your defense but before you submit your thesis, you can enroll in DSRT 999 before the semester begins. Please contact the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by e-mail to register for the zero credit hour DSRT 999 course*. Include your name, SID, Department, and reason for the request.

    • Registering for this course will allow you to maintain your active student status for this purpose. There will be a $100 fee associated with this course. You will also be charged the Health Service Fee during the semester. Students in this course are required to have health insurance that meets Rice's health insurance requirements.

    • Enrolling in DSRT 999 will keep your student status “active”, allowing you to enroll in the student health insurance plan. Students enrolled in DSRT 999 are not eligible for the doctoral medical insurance subsidy unless they are otherwise registered as a full-time student. If you do not enroll in DSRT 999, and you are not enrolled in any other courses, you will not be eligible for the student health insurance plan. Please email for details.

J. Final thesis submission

  • You must submit your thesis online at within six months of your defense but prior to submitting hard copies to GPS.

    • Final version of thesis w/ signed electronic title page (PDF format)

    • Signed electronic Approval of Candidacy Form (the same form you previously uploaded)

    • Survey of Earned Doctorate Certificate (Ph.D., DMA only)

  • Submit hard copies to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies within six months of your defense. This process is now done electronically.

    • Original signed Approval of Candidacy Form

    • Two signed, original copies of your thesis title page

  • More information on thesis submission here.

K. Degree conferral and deadlines

Please see the academic calendar for all deadlines and for information related to doctoral or advanced degrees convocation.

  • During the semester of your defense, submit your application for degree to the registrar by the deadline stated in the academic calendar.

    • Typically this is in September/October for December conferral and in January/February for May conferral.

  • In this same time frame you must also file the following in the GPS office: candidacy petitions.

  • The thesis must be submitted to the GPS office by the deadline for the appropriate degree conferral. This is always the last day of classes for each full term. Check the academic calendar.

L. Leaving Rice

  • Return your keys to your department.

  • Please check with OISS if you are an international student.

  • Check that you have a zero (0) balance in your student account.

  • Be mindful of when your student health insurance benefits will end.

  • Rice email accounts are deactivated six months after graduation. You are encouraged to set up an alumni email address by going here

  • Rice alumni are provided a Gmail address with the custom domain. To sign up for one, please Log in to the Rice Portal at and complete the setup.

  • Have questions about resources available to you as an alum? Check out some FAQs here

M. Post-doc position

If you are being hired as a postdoc, you can be hired any time after the date of your final thesis submission. Please work with your graduate administrator for this process.

N. Staff position

If you are being hired for a staff position, the hire date is not crucial. However, your student stipend must be terminated at least one day before the staff job begins. Please work with your graduate administrator to use dates that correspond with pay periods.

Updated November 2021