Finishing Up — Steps to Degree Completion

NUIN Students can graduate at the end of any quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer), though there is only one formal hooding ceremony, held each June.  Graduates from any time in the previous year can participate in the hooding ceremony.  It is important to note that all graduation requirements, including NUIN program approval, must be completed per TGS deadlines, which can sneak up quickly.  For a list of important dates and deadlines, please refer to the TGS Academic Calendar.

There are both NUIN program requirements and TGS requirements that must be fulfilled before a student can graduate.

NUIN Requirements
NUIN students must complete all coursework, formal milestones, and other requirements described elsewhere on the NUIN web site.  Requirements specific to degree completion include the following:

  • Completed 9 credits of coursework
  • Satisfy the 1st Author Publication requirement
  • Successfully defend a Thesis in a private meeting with the Thesis Committee.  (Contact the NUIN Program Manager if you need assistance booking a room for your Private Thesis Defense). Thesis committees often require changes to the thesis document after the Private Thesis Defense.  Be sure to allow enough time before the TGS deadline to complete such changes.  Students must submit the FINAL dissertation via ProQuest.
  • Present a Public Thesis Seminar.
    • The Public Thesis Seminar must be on the calendar before NUIN approves a student for graduation.  However, in certain circumstances students are given permission to hold the actual event after the TGS deadline for completing all requirements.  This flexibility can be helpful in cases, for example, when family or friends wish to attend the seminar as well as attend the hooding ceremony.
    • Contact the NUIN Program Manager in order to publicize your seminar and for help booking a room.
    • Be aware that the Public Thesis Seminar should not be advertised until the student successfully passes the Private Thesis Defense.  As such, in order to give the neuroscience community ample advance notification, the Public Thesis Seminar should not follow the private defense by less than one week.
  • Submit the signed PhD Final Exam form to the NUIN Office.
    • It is the student’s responsibility to complete the PhD Final Exam Form in CAESAR, and to print and bring the form to the Private Thesis Defense. (See TGS Website for more information on where to locate this form)
    • Signatures from ALL members of the Thesis Committee are required to signify that the student has met all the committee’s requirements for thesis research and preparation of the dissertation document.  It is not uncommon for the committee chair (and sometimes other members) to withhold signature until any requested work is complete.
    • Once the signed PhD Final Exam Form has been submitted, and assuming all other program requirements have been fulfilled, NUIN will approve the Final Exam From in CAESAR, signifying that the student has met all NUIN’s requirements for graduation.

TGS PhD Graduation Requirements

Transitioning from Student Status
Students should discuss details of their termination and transition with their advisor and departmental business office. There is no single model.  It is common for students to continue working (supported as graduate students) in their thesis lab – writing or wrapping up projects – for a short time after all degree requirements are satisfied. But students staying on for any significant length of time should transition to either postdoc or employee status.   Note: Graduating students are covered by their Northwestern health insurance through the end of the academic year (31August) unless insurance is cancelled by the student.

Obtaining Certification that PhD Requirements are Complete
Sometimes students transition to a postdoctoral or employment position before formally graduating and receiving a diploma.  Students needing institutional confirmation that they have completed all the requirements for the PhD may request a certification of completion from TGS.