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

If you need proof of degree completion early, please use the Request for Certification Form

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 plus two committee members are required, do NOT choose  your GSR. Send your Reading Committee a working dissertation draft to read and approve that is ready for defense.
Choose Time, Date and room location for Final Examination. Full Working Draft of dissertation to Sup. Committee 4th, 5th 6 Weeks before Defense Contact your Supervisory Committee to set date, & time for your defense.  Contact the Neuro office for room reservation if needed.  Send copy of thesis to your Supervisory Committee,, and upload copy to your Google Drive Neuro Mail box.
Schedule your exam and request Warrant for Final Examination in MyGrad Program 4th, 5th 4 Weeks before Defense Neuro Office will print the warrant for pickup after all parties have approved.
Neuro Reading Committee Approval Confirmation 4th, 5th 4 Weeks before Defense The Neuro office will verify with the Reading Committee that your thesis is ready for Defense.
Neuro Intent to Attend Defense Confirmation 4th, 5th 4 Weeks before Defense Neuro Office will confirm with the Supervisory Committee, their attendance, the date, time & location.
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.
Submit UW Reading Committee Approval Form to Grad School 4th, 5th Normally End of 5th year Upload to the Graduate School before last day of quarter that you defended.
Final Thesis 4th, 5th Normally End of 5th year Upload final Thesis to The Graduate School

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.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. At that time, the student may initiate scheduling a room and obtaining the warrant.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.