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The dissertation must:
  • Be written on a subject approved by the candidate’s doctoral program committee.
  • Embody the results of original and significant investigation.
  • Be the candidate’s own work and cannot be coauthored.

Forming a Dissertation Committee

The doctoral student should consult with their advisor about the program’s specific requirements for forming a dissertation committee.

Often, the student’s dissertation committee will be the same as their program committee.

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The doctoral candidate must remain continuously enrolled to defend the dissertation. The dissertation can only be defended when MU is officially in session.

Continuous Enrollment

Continuous enrollment provides access to an advisor’s support, doctoral program committee guidance and university research facilities for completion of the dissertation.

Candidacy is maintained by enrolling for two semester hours each Fall and Spring semester, and for one semester hour each Summer session up to and including the term in which the dissertation is defended. Failure to enroll continuously until the doctoral degree is awarded terminates candidacy.  Students typically fulfill this requirement with enrollment in Dissertation Research (9090/9990).

To maintain continuous enrollment, the student must self register for the required coursework each semester using myZou. Students without Internet access or those with other enrollment difficulties should contact the Graduate School’s doctoral academic advisor for registration assistance.

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Preparing the Dissertation

The doctoral student should ask their advisor about specific formatting requirements or citation style.

All dissertation defenses must be open to the general faculty. Academic programs are encouraged to announce dissertation defense dates to academic program colleagues. The Graduate School has no restrictions on whether the defense is in person or virtual; however, students should check with their academic program in case they have restrictions about the format of the defense.

Review Dissertation & Thesis Guidelines

Reporting Requirements

A Report of the Dissertation Defense form (D4) and the approval page for the written dissertation must be signed by all members of the doctoral committee  and be submitted to the Graduate School before the deadline preceding the anticipated date of graduation.

For the dissertation to be successfully defended, the student’s doctoral committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote. In addition, the doctoral committee must approve the written dissertation by signing the approval page (an unsigned copy of the approval page is included in the submitted dissertation). Both the oral and written defense must be completed successfully to complete the degree.

After successfully defending the dissertation, the student makes any needed adjustments in format and corrections or clarifications based on input from the committee. If a student is unable to make adjustments and have them approved by the committee prior to the Graduate School deadline, they have one additional semester to complete them. They will be unable to graduate until the D4, written dissertation, and approval page are submitted.


Supplemental Documents that Accompany the Electronic Submission

Several supplemental documents must accompany the submission including a signed approval page indicating the committee’s approval of the written work and electronic release form.  These forms can be printed, completed, scanned, and submitted through Canvas.

View Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for More Information Graduation & Commencement Deadlines