Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Preparing to Graduate

Dissertation and Final Exam

Graduate Program in Neuroscience Request to Form a Reading Committee

UW Grad School Reading Committee Approval Form

See the Exams & Committees Page for more details, deadlines and required forms.

For a chart of Milestones & Deadlines see the Milestone Grid

Dissertation Defense Timeline

Item Program Year Deadlines Action
Establishing Reading Committee 4th, 5th 2 Months before Dissertation Defense Send Reading Committee Request Form to Neuro Office for Approval. Chair, 2 committee members, NOT GSR. Send reading committee working dissertation draft.
Choose Time, Date and room location for Final Examination. Full Working Draft of dissertation to Sup. Committee 4th, 5th 6 Weeks before Defense Contact Sup Committee to set date, & time.  Contact Neuro office for room reservation. Neuro Office will confirm with the Sup. committee, their attendance, the date, time & location. Send copy of thesis to Sup. Committee and upload copy to your Google Drive Neuro Mail box.
Reading Committee Confirmation Form 4th, 5th 4 Weeks before Defense Submit your Reading Committee Confirmation form to the Neuro office. This confirms the thesis is ready for Defense.
Schedule your exam and request for Warrant for Final Examination in MyGrad 4th, 5th 3 Weeks before Defense Neuro Office will print for pickup.
Dissertation Defense/Final Exam 4th, 5th Normally End of 5th year The chair, GSR and at least two voting members need to be present at your exam.  Completed Warrant to Neuro office. GSR report mailed to The Graduate School by GSR.
Submit Reading Committee Approval Form 4th, 5th Normally End of 5th year Upload to the Graduate School
Final Thesis 4th, 5th Normally End of 5th year Upload final Thesis to The Graduate School

1.  Two months before the planned final exam, the student shall designate and get approval for the Reading Committee (advisor/s, plus two members of their Supervisory Committee, not to include the GSR).

  1.  Six weeks priorto the projected final exam date, the student distributes a full draft of the entire dissertation*to all members of the supervisory committee and to the Neuroscience program office ( We encourage students to do this electronically.
  2. At that time, the student may initiate scheduling a room and obtaining the warrant.
  3. Four weeks prior to the target final exam date, the program office staff will request 1) confirmation from the entire committee that each member is available for the exam; and 2) confirmation from the Reading Committee that each member thinks there is a draft dissertation that is sufficiently complete to move forward with scheduling the final exam.
  4. At least three weeks prior to the exam date, with (and only with) those approvals, the program office will officially enter the exam into the Graduate School website.
  5. When submitting the dissertation electronically through ProQuest, the student must also submit an electronic pdf of the dissertation to the Neuroscience Program Office ( The Neuroscience Office staff will handle the printing and binding of Program’s paper copy of the dissertation.
  6. Other steps occur according to the Graduate School rules.

*       Neuroscience dissertation guidelines:
There is no clear-cut definition of a minimum requirement for a thesis. However, the dissertation should describe original research that advances the field of neuroscience and clearly indicates training in research. A reasonable goal for many students is two first-author articles targeted for professional, peer-reviewed journals, such as The Journal of Neuroscience. The dissertation should include an introduction that provides the scientific background supporting the rationale for the thesis work. This chapter should briefly review the literature and help put the work into a broader context. Subsequent chapters should include the dissertation work itself, and may be in the format of submitted or accepted publications. The thesis should conclude with a final chapter synthesizing the major findings and proposing future directions for the work.