Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Ph.D. Dissertation

W&M Thesis Template

Students typically begin apprenticeships in their chosen specialization during their second year and then start seriously into their research. The research must be a significant original contribution. Students entering the program with a Master’s degree may begin their apprenticeships in their second semester. A dissertation must be approved by the candidate's Ph.D. committee, and then must be defended successfully in a public oral examination.

Advanced students undertaking Ph.D. dissertation research under the guidance of a faculty advisor should register for Physics 800, Physics Dissertation. This research is subject to an annual review.

The dissertation must be approved by a Ph.D. Dissertation Committee, which consists of at least five members, one of whom must be from outside the Physics Department. At least three members of the committee must be tenured or tenure-track members of the Physics faculty. The composition of the committee must be approved by the Director of the Graduate Studies Program and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Timeline for Ph.D. dissertation submission to review committees:

  • Students must submit a substantially complete version of their dissertation to their Ph.D. defense committee 15 business days before the oral examination.
  • The dissertation must have been reviewed in full and approved by the Ph.D. advisor for consideration by the committee.
  • Students may appeal to the graduate studies committee for a variance in this procedure at least three full business days in advance of the submission deadline.

Elaboration on the timeline:

  • A substantially complete dissertation is one that has all the information necessary for the review committee to judge the Ph.D. work. It should be a single document with all chapters. It should include all significant results, figures, and data tables. It should include all conclusions. It should have been carefully checked for spelling and grammar. It should not have missing references, citations, or table and figure captions.
  • Business days are those days defined by W&M for academic work. This includes periods at the end of the semester, during the summer, and during certain staff holidays. Students are responsible for contacting the graduate studies chair in advance if they have questions about what constitutes a business day.
  • Fifteen full business days are required for committee review unless a variance has been granted. Variances to this procedure are only obtainable via appeal to the physics graduate studies committee.