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Dissertation Defense

Defense Calendar

You are able to attend live dissertation defenses! 

Whether you are attending to support a colleague or are curious about what to expect, you can attend as many as you would like.

Dissertation Defense Calendar

Best Practices for Attending a Defense

One of the smartest things you can do as an NU doctoral student is to attend and participate in the dissertation defense process for your fellow students. Whether you are currently getting your feet wet with chapter 1, in the middle of the process, or about to defend, you will learn so much from attending other students’ defenses.

Here are a few reasons to make time in your schedule to attend these important events:

  • Learn about both the process and the product for an entire dissertation journey.
  • Prepare yourself for your dissertation defense.
  • Support your peers by cheering them on and being present for them at this critical moment.
  • Participate in a scholarly community.

Students are often surprised when their Dissertation Chairs encourage them to attend dissertation defenses.  You may be surprised at how easy and beneficial it is once you try!  Check the NU Commons for the event listings calendar in the University Community Forum.  You will see all upcoming dissertation defenses listed there, with the necessary login links. Click on the Zoom meeting link just before the defense is scheduled to begin and you become a participant. 

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Be sure to double-check time-zones, as it’s easy to write down the wrong time and accidentally miss the event.  Times are AZ time.
  • Take some time to choose an event that works for your schedule, as the events occur at various times of day/evening.
  • Defenses that you attend do not need to be in your specialization or even your school.  Attending defenses, both related and unrelated to your research, could be beneficial for many reasons.
  • You can attend as many dissertation defenses as you’d like. Some students only attend one peer’s defense, while others attend many over time. It depends on you as an individual and what you’d like to get out of the experience.

Now that you’re excited to attend your first dissertation defense, here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Process and product of the Doctoral Candidate’s research.
  • Presentation skills and scholarly dialogue from the candidate and the committee.
  • Format – The Chair will introduce the doctoral candidate. The candidate will present for about 30 minutes, and then the SME and Chair will ask questions of the doctoral candidate.
  • Proper etiquette/process – You will not be able to speak on your microphone during a peer’s defense.  However, you will be invited to ask questions in the Zoom chat box after the SME and Chair have asked questions of the doctoral candidate. The Q&A is an opportunity to offer support, further engage in scholarly dialogue, and think about the types of questions asked at dissertation defenses and other types of scholarly presentations.

Attending a peer’s dissertation defense provides many opportunities for learning during the defense, and it can provide even more afterward. Many students have found ways to network with each other after a defense by extending the conversation over email, phone, or other methods later on. This can provide a more in-depth experience and more guidance for students who attend defenses and can further the impact of the scholarly community beyond the defense itself. Many students team up to attend each other’s defenses, in order to provide moral support and cheerleading. When it’s time for you to plan your defense, consider getting support from your peers. It’s all about participating in an ongoing scholarly community together, as ongoing learners. 

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