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School of International Service, PhD

The Graduation Process

In order to graduate, students will need to complete the entire graduation process. The first step in this process is to apply to graduate. This is a minor but necessary step. You can do this through your myau account. This should be done at the beginning of the semester in which you wish to defend your dissertation. Please keep in mind that it is the student's responsibility to be aware of any deadlines that may affect her or his desired graduation date.

Prior to the Defense

Your completed dissertation needs to go to your committee 5 weeks before the proposed defense date. The committee has 3 weeks to read the dissertation and let you know if you may move forward to the defense. If so, you may set the defense date. For the defense, you will need to find a room on campus and finalize the date and time. Once the date, time, and location have been established you must notify the Director of Doctoral Studies of the defense. This notification must be submitted to the Director of Doctoral Studies at least two weeks prior to the defense date. You can find information about what happens at the defense in the SIS PhD program handbook or on the dissertation defense webpage.

After the defense, you will need to collect the following:

  1. The appropriate signatures on the title page of your dissertation . The Dean does not need to have signed the title page at this point. It is suggested that students have their committee members sign two copies of the title page just in case something happens to one copy. The title page needs to be kept neat and clean since it will be uploaded as part of the formal submission process described below.
  2. The appropriate signatures on the Defense Examination Report form.

The Defense Examination Report and the signed title page should be submitted to the PhD Academic Advisor or the Graduate Advising Office (SIS 250) by no later than the dissertation submission deadline for your semester of graduation. Deadlines can be found on the submission website.

After the defense, you will need to make any revisions specified by the committee. Once these revisions have been made, you chair should confirm to the Academic Advisor that your dissertation has been finalized and you should begin the submission process. 

The Submission Process

It may be useful to review two important references before submitting your dissertation, the SIS PhD Program Handbook and the Provost's submission checklist. Please note the following: 

  • You must make sure the submitted dissertation meets all formatting requirements.
  • You must fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates form. This form can be submitted either by hand or electronically to the Academic Advisor.
  • As of November 1, 2012, students are no longer required to pay a fee to cover the cost of microfilming the dissertation. 

You will need to electronically submit your final dissertation (that is, after any revisions have been approved) to the library by going to the ETD site and clicking on "submit my dissertation/thesis." The system will prompt you to create an account, provide complete materials about publishing, categorizing, and copyrighting your dissertation before directing you to save and upload your dissertation as a PDF. You should receive a confirmation email once you have successfully uploaded your dissertation. You must submit the dissertation before the submission deadline for your semester of graduation to insure that the format can be checked and any required formatting revisions can be made by the final submission deadline.

The Academic Advisor will arrange for the Dean's and Registrar's Office signatures and contact you when your materials are ready. Please allow 2-3 days for this process. The Graduate Advising Office will keep a copy of your title page for your file. You should keep a copy of the signed title page as receipt for completing the submission process.

Survey of Earned Doctorates

It is also important to remember that PhD candidates must fill out and return the Survey of Earned Doctorates form to the Academic Advisor before their dissertation can be officially accepted and submitted.


Contact the PhD Program Coordinator, at 202-885-6582 or

We encourage prospective candidates to visit the University to meet faculty members and current PhD students. To arrange a visit, contact Graduate Admissions at 202-885-1646 or