FPO Checklist

Preparation and Procedures for PH.D. Defense (FPO Checklist)

This document outlines steps in preparation for your Dissertation defense and the Final Public Oral Examination.


  • Pick a date and time in consultation with your adviser and the degree deadlines below. When looking for a date give yourself at the very least 3 months to complete the process from start to finish. Keep that in mind, especially if you are pressed to receive your degree by a specific date.
  • Check with your Graduate Administrator ([email protected])  for any conflicts with the department calendar and room availability.
  • Confirm your principal readers and examiners and receive approval by all persons who are to attend the defense. Include the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
    • If you wish to include external readers and/or examiners, please submit their CV to [email protected] for review and Graduate School approval.
    • You must have at least two principal readers and three principal examiners. At least two of the examiners cannot have also served as readers of the dissertation.
    • At least one reader must be a current faculty member from the student’s home department. A student’s adviser cannot serve as a reader (department rule).
    • All readers and examiners must be approved to serve in graduate advisory role (see website for details).
    • Remote participation requires approval by the Graduate School, and at least two examiners must be present in person.


Important: The following process must be done to meet the specific degree deadline date you choose:

  • You must have submitted your Advanced Degree Application
  • You must have successfully defended your dissertation
  • All paperwork must be completed and signed

Keep in mind, if you are serving as an Assistant-in-Instruction (AI) in the semester that you are defending the dissertation, consult with your department about the FPO date to ensure that you may remain enrolled and eligible to serve as an AI through the end of the term. Enrollment continues only through the end of the month in which a student's FPO is held. Any exceptions must be discussed with Academic Affairs in the Graduate School.

For additional information on the FPO process please check the Advanced Degree Application Process page of the Graduate School.
For formatting requirements, please check the Ph.D. Dissertations Submission Guidelines (Mudd Library) and the Dissertation Formatting Requirements (pdf, Mudd Library).

Please retain copies of all documents submitted

Degree Dates
Degree Deadline for 2023-24 Degree to be awarded on
Thursday, August 31, 2023 Saturday, September 23, 2023
Tuesday, October 31, 2023 Saturday, November 18, 2023
Friday, December 29, 2023 Saturday, January 27, 2024
Thursday, February 29, 2024 Saturday, March 23, 2024
Thursday, May 9, 2024 Tuesday, May 28, 2024
    Degree Deadline for 2024-25 Degree to be awarded on
    Friday, August 30, 2024 Saturday, September 28, 2024
    Thursday, October 31, 2024 Saturday, November 23, 2024
    Tuesday, December 31, 2024 Saturday, January 18, 2025
    Friday, February 28, 2025 Saturday, March 29, 2025
    Thursday, May 8, 2025 Tuesday, May 27, 2025

    NOTE:  Dates are tentative and subject to change before the beginning of the academic year. For the most up-to-date information on degree dates, please refer to: Degree Deadlines To Apply For an Advanced Degree.

    Begin of FPO application process

    • A PDF final copy of your Dissertation is due to the department at least 21 days before the defense date.
    • A completed Advanced Degree Application must be submitted by the student electronically 21 days prior to the proposed Ph.D. defense date. This online Advanced Degree Application can be accessed via TigerHub and is completed by the student. If applicable, discuss the need to embargo the dissertation with your advisor. Your Advanced Degree Application must contain the following:
      • A copy of the title page, correctly formatted (sample title page)
      • A copy of the abstract (350 words or less).
      •  Ph.D. Dissertation Embargo Request and Approval (if applicable). This request must be submitted electronically as part of the advanced Degree Application.
      • Prior Presentation and Publication (if applicable). This form is submitted electronically as part of the advanced Degree Application.


    • Reader Reports: Readers should submit their reports (pdf format) about 18 days prior to the scheduled defense to [email protected] – GPA will upload them before submitting your application to the Graduate School.
      At least two reader reports are required, and at least one of the readers must be a faculty member in the candidate’s home department. Additional readers may be assigned by the department. External Readers (outside PU) must receive prior approval by the Graduate School prior to completion of the Advanced Degree Application. Please email [email protected] for questions regarding reader eligibility, approval process and CV submittal (A CV is required for all external readers prior to approval and is uploaded alongside the reader report).
    • An announcement of your FPO Examination must be visible in the department for at least three days prior to the date of the defense. The memo will be available once the advanced degree application has successfully passed the deans’ approval. The GPA will post this notice and send an email to the entire department.

    Day of FPO

    • Defend!

    Following the FPO

    Before submitting final paperwork to the Graduate School, graduate students must take the following steps :   

    • Submit dissertation PDF to Princeton’s ProQuest ETD site), paying any applicable publishing and copyright fees (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions);
    • Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates (hard copy of the "Certificate of Completion" page of the SED);
    • Complete the Exit Survey (hard copy of the "Confirmation of Completion" page must be submitted);
    • Complete the checkout process for students departing the University in TigerHub.

    Once all actions are complete, graduate students must log in to TigerHub to complete the submission of the final paperwork process.  All final paperwork is normally submitted immediately following the successful completion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense or by the degree deadline, whichever comes first.