Dissertation Defense

Independent research on one’s dissertation technically begins once the Preliminary Qualifying Examination is successfully completed.  It is expected that preparation of a dissertation will require full-time dedication for not less than one and a half years after the Preliminary Qualifying Examination.  The dissertation must give evidence of independent, original research and be clearly, logically and carefully written.  The manuscript must conform to the requirements described in the Form of the Dissertation, issued by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (available online on the GSAS Publications page). 

Please refer to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Student Handbook for details regarding the GSAS requirements on progress towards the Ph.D. degree, form of the dissertation, and degree application deadlines.

Students in the Biophysics Program are allowed to carry over two faculty members from their Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) to their Dissertation Defense Committee.  The Dissertation Defense Committee includes three faculty-level examiners, thus one faculty member (at least) from a student's Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) needs to be replaced with a new examiner for the Dissertation Defense Committee.  Harvard University requires that at least two signers for the Dissertation Defense hold faculty-level academic appointments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.  This includes members of the faculty in academic departments on the Cambridge campus, as well as faculty members in the basic science departments at Harvard Medical School.  It can also include faculty at the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals in the Longwood Medical Area, but depends on those faculty members holding academic appointments through a department within Harvard University, as well.