IMPORTANT NOTE:    If you need an accessible version of any of the documents or forms below, please contact the Biology Graduate Academic Support Coordinator, (, 114 Life Sciences Complex)

Do You Plan to Defend and/or Graduate This Semester?

Students who intend to defend and/or graduate by the end of the current semester are expected to comply with all Biology Department and Syracuse University requirements in order to meet eligibility requirements for graduation. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of all requirements, and to anticipate any relevant form deadlines, well in advance of the date of their scheduled thesis or dissertation defense and/or graduation date. It is also very important for the student to be in frequent contact with their Advisor throughout their final semester, as they prepare for their defense and for graduation.

This page contain the steps and forms you need to complete in order to meet the requirements for graduation. There is also a checklist you can download to keep track of your completion of these requirements: Biology Department Checklist for Graduate Students Completing the Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Programs. If you have specific questions relating to defense and/or graduation requirements, please contact the Biology Graduate Academic Support Coordinator, (, 114 Life Sciences Complex).


Official deadlines are released on the graduate school's website, where updated and additional information is provided.

Please note: Deadlines are separated into columns by expected graduation date. Some deadlines are different depending on if you are a PhD or MS student. Tasks are listed in approximate chronological order.


(See below for more information on each task)

December Graduation


May Graduation


June Graduation


August Graduation


Review Degree RequirementsAs soon as possible, before or early in the semester.

Last Semester Memo

(International Students Only)

As soon as possible in the semester

Forming Committee and Setting Date

(Reserve Lundgren room/request remote defense)

As soon as possible in the semester.

Your chosen defense date must allow time for revisions/completion of paperwork before the final submission deadline.

File Diploma Request

November 1, 2023March 1, 2024

MS: March 1, 2024

PhD: June 1, 2024

MS: March 1, 2024

PhD: June 1, 2024

Submit Draft to Advisor and Readers

At least 4-5 weeks before your defense date

Approval needed before submitting Request for Exam

Signed Degree Audit

and Request for Exam

At least three weeks before your defense date
Last day to submit a Request for ExamNovember 20, 2023

MS: March 29, 2024

PhD: March 25, 2024

June 1, 2024

August 1, 2024

Final Submission Deadline

(All final documentation)

December 19, 2023

MS: May 9, 2024

PhD: April 19, 2024

June 27, 2024August 22, 2024
More Resources:

The Syracuse University Graduate School manages all official documents associated with a student's thesis or dissertation defense, and also certifies that a student has fulfilled all relevant eligibility requirements for graduation and a diploma.

If you need any additional information about any of the steps on this page, please refer to the following resources:

Steps for Defense and Graduation:

Last Semester Memo (international students only)

All international students must complete this form during their last semester, and should do so as early as possible during the semester. The form is completed electronically, signed by the Biology department, and then submitted to the Slutzker Center for International Services (310 Walnut Place).

Review your degree requirements:

Students should review the Biology Graduate Program Handbook to determine if they have completed their graduation requirements. Any questions about the degree requirements can be directed to the student's advisor or the Graduate Academic Support Coordinator (Sarah Hartmann,

Students may access Degree Works via MySlice.  Degree Works, an online tool to help students and advisor's monitor a student's progress, can be used to review completion of degree requirements.

Forming your Defense Committee and Setting a Defense Date:

Form your defense committee and choose your readers according to the departmental requirements below (consult your Advisor for suggested committee members):

  • PhD Defense Committee: consists of 5 voting members—Oral Defense Chair + 4 Members (including your Advisor); only Syracuse University tenured or tenure-track faculty outside the biology department may chair the defense; if necessary, file a petition to include more than one Defense Committee member outside the Biology Department (i.e., external member). Note: In exceptional circumstances, a petition with detailed rationale and proposed member's CV can be submitted to accept someone who is not a Syracuse University faculty as a member of your Defense Committee. 
    • PhD Readers: Advisor + 2 Defense Committee Members
  • MS Defense Committee: consists of 4 voting members—Oral Defense Chair + 3 Members (including your Advisor)
    • MS Readers: Advisor + 1 Defense Committee Member

          The committee must also meet the Graduate School Requirements. Any petitions for external members must also go to the Graduate School.

Choose a date and time for your defense, when all committee members are available. Allow time for you to make revisions after your defense, to be able to submit final documents by the final submission deadline. Once you have decided on a time, please reserve the Lundgren Room using this reservation request form and send your defense seminar notice information (title, date, time, location, advisor) to the graduate academic coordinator ( or

Due to COVID-19, the Graduate School supports an online/video based defense. Students must email their request to their advisor for approval. The email must clearly articulate a plan for successful web-based hosting.  The email must include the platform that the student is using, who will host the defense and the link (and password).  Their advisor will forward the approved request to degreecert@syr.eduPlease email or for additional information.

Send in your Request for Diploma:

DEADLINE: Fall graduates are expected to file their Request for Diploma in early November. Spring and Summer graduates are expected to file their Request for Diploma in mid-February. Refer to Qualifications for Commencement Participation for specific deadlines.

Students must submit their Request for Diploma electronically via MySlice. To access this feature, log in to MySlice, navigate to Academics (in the Student tab) and select Diploma Request. Specify the term (fall, spring, or summer) and provide information for the diploma, including a mailing address.

Signed Degree Audit:

DEADLINE: The Signed Degree Audit should be submitted before or along with your Request for Examination form (at least three weeks before defense date).

Students may access Degree Works via MySlice.  Degree Works, an online tool to help students and advisor's monitor a student's progress, can be used to review completion of degree requirements.

Students should submit a PDF of their most recent degree audit worksheet, using the Student View format, to their advisor. If approved, your advisor must sign and date the top of the PDF and the signed degree audit worksheet is submitted to for review. This should be submitted at least three weeks before your defense date.

Note:  Signed degree audits have replaced the program of study form. Students no longer need to complete the program of study form, assuming the degree audit is available for their degree.

Approval for your Defense:

DEADLINE: Submit a draft of your dissertation/thesis to your advisor and other readers at least 4-5 weeks before your defense date. All Readers must notify the Graduate Academic Support Coordinator (Sarah Hartmann, ) in writing (via e-mail) that the dissertation/ thesis is approved for defense before the Request for Examination form can be signed and submitted to the SU Graduate School.

Request for Examination:

DEADLINE:  The signed form must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the defense date.

Please list program director (Steve Dorus) as Department Chair on this form. This form is completed electronically, and then submitted to the Syracuse University Graduate School (304 Lyman Hall), after obtaining the signature of the student's Advisor and the Biology Department Chair. The student will enter the names and e-mail addresses of the members of their Oral Defense Committee, along with the thesis/dissertation title and defense date, time and location. Department approval is granted after your Advisor and your reader(s) notify the Graduate Program Administrator (in writing) that your defense may proceed.

Submit a Copy of your Dissertation/Thesis:

DEADLINE: Submit a Copy of your Dissertation/Thesis to all Defense Committee Members and to the Biology Department (Sarah Hartmann, at least 2 weeks before your anticipated defense date. No further changes should be made to the dissertation/thesis prior to the defense.

Survey of Earned Doctorates (Ph.D. students only)

DEADLINE: Final submission deadline

Ph.D. students are expected to complete this online survey as part of the Syracuse University Graduate School requirements.

After your Defense:

DEADLINE: The deadline for final documents is the final submission deadline.

Details found here: Thesis/Dissertation 


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