Dissertation & Final Exam

A successful German Studies Ph.D. dissertation will constitute a significant contribution to the field of German Studies. Following the preliminary exam (typically in the third year of study), you are expected to complete your dissertation chapter review during your fourth year of study, and to defend your dissertation by the end of the fifth year.

Format & Timing

The dissertation is expected to be a mature and competent piece of writing, embodying the results of significant and original research. One month before the dissertation is presented and no later than January 25 preceding the May commencement, July 1 for a September degree, and November 1 for a December degree, the student must Apply for Graduation in ACES. This application should indicate the approved title of the dissertation and be approved by both the director of graduate studies of the student's major department and the professor who directs the dissertation.
For requirements and all information for submitting an electronic dissertation please visit the Electronic Theses & Dissertation page. The dissertation must be completed to the satisfaction of the professor who directs the dissertation, members of the student's advisory committee, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Please review the current semester Graduation deadlines for the semester in which you plan to graduate: http://gradschool.duke.edu/academics/grad_deadlines.php. Electronic dissertation must be submitted to UMI/ProQuest and the format accepted at least two weeks after the scheduled date of the student's examination.
All doctoral dissertations are published electronically through University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Authors may copyright them if they wish. Abstracts are published in Dissertation Abstracts International. If copyright is desired, an additional fee of $65 is charged.

The Ph.D. Committee

For the purpose of the preliminary examination, the Ph.D. committee consists of four faculty members, including the faculty advisor, selected by the student in consultation with their faculty advisor and the DGS. A fifth faculty member will be added to the committee  for the dissertation defense. Typically, faculty from the preliminary exam will also serve on the dissertation review and dissertation defense committees.

Dissertation Chapter Review

In consultation with their advisor, students develop a dissertation project. Students submit to the dissertation review committee a chapter of 30-45 pages, a prospectus of the dissertation of at least 10 pages, and a comprehensive bibliography. The oral review lasts approximately 1-2 hours.

Dissertation Defense/Final Examination

When the student and the primary advisor are satisfied that a defensible draft is complete, they will offer it to the members of the committee for final approval and set a date for the final examination (also known as the thesis defense). The defense will usually be held as soon after submission of the final draft as is practical and in keeping with University and Graduate School requirements.

Dissertation Defense Form: This form must be filled out and submitted to Duke and UNC at least 10 calendar days before your defense date.

Successful completion of the final examination requires at least four affirmative votes and no more than one negative vote. The sole exception to this policy is that a negative vote cast by the chair of the examining committee will mean a failure on the examination. A student who fails the final examination may be allowed to take it a second time, but no earlier than six months from the date of the first examination. Permission to take the second examination must be obtained from the professor who directed the dissertation and from the Dean of the Graduate School. Failure to pass the second examination renders the student ineligible to continue work for the Ph.D. degree at Duke University.
Deposit of Electronic Dissertation After passing the examination, candidates make changes requested by the examining committee and formatting changes requested by the Graduate School to the electronic dissertation. The Graduate School will be notified that you have revised your dissertation and you will receive an e-mail when your dissertation has been accepted. All dissertations must be accepted prior to the final submission deadline for the semester in which the student intends to graduate, or thirty days from defense date, whichever is sooner.