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Dissertation Exam Committee (DEC) Membership

The information outlined below is not all-inclusive. Please familiarize yourself with all of the requirements as outlined in the Student Handbook

Formation of Dissertation Exam Committee 

The Dissertation Examination Committee (DEC) consists of five members.  Four members must be Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Faculty Members. One of these must be designated as the DEC Chair. Contributing and Affiliate faculty members are not eligible to serve on DEC. The dissertation advisor cannot be a member of the committee.  

An External Examiner must be selected and approved by the TRAC and the Dean. The purpose of the External examiner is to represent the academic community at large in upholding the standards of the PhD degree. Therefore the External Examiner must: 

  1. Hold a doctoral degree
  2. Be currently engaged in research in the field
  3. Be primarily appointed as a faculty member at a PhD-granting institution, or appointed at a government or other non-profit institution with a secondary appointment at a PhD-granting institution. 

Co-authorships and Conflict of Interest exclusions 

The DEC may consist of no more than two members who are current or intended future co-authors with the student on the work in the dissertation. 

Neither the DEC Chair nor the External Examiner can be a current or intended future co-author with the student on work presented in the dissertation. 

No DEC member can be the current or former spouse or a relative of the student or the dissertation advisor.  

Preparation for the Defense Examination 

The student will distribute the final copy of the dissertation to the DE committee 21 days prior to the DE. 

Within 7 days of receipt, the DE Chair will review the thesis for general acceptability and will communicate his/her findings to the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and to the rest of the DE committee. In the event that the Dissertation document is unacceptable,

  • the DE Chair also informs the student and the dissertation advisor, and provides a written summary to all detailing the deficiencies. The DE will be cancelled.
  • the student will correct the deficiencies and restart the process of preparation for the DE.

The Defense Exam 

The defense exam consists of a public seminar followed by a closed defense examination. The public seminar is a 45-50 minute summary of the findings reported in the dissertation, followed by questions from the audience. The closed defense examination will take place immediately after the public seminar. The dissertation advisor cannot be present during the closed door defense. 

DEC Outcomes 

  • Pass 
  • In Progress - Minor Revisions 
  • In Progress - Major Revisions 
  • In Progress - Retest 
  • Fail 

Post-Defense Completion of Dissertation 

The DEC Chair, in consultation with other DEC members, is responsible for approving a revised dissertation via the Dissertation Defense Outcome form (BBS08).
Preview Dissertation Defense Outcome form BBS08  |  Initiate BBS08 in DocuSign

The student has four months post-defense to retest, if necessary, to submit the revised and approved dissertation and to complete all degree requirements. If all degree requirements are not completed within four months, the student will be withdrawn from the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and will receive no degree. Extensions will be considered only with documentation of extreme extenuating circumstances.