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Thesis Defense

You have 15 minutes (undegraduate students) or 20 minutes (graduate students) to defend your thesis in front of a thesis defense committee that consists of three members: your thesis supervisor, your thesis opponent, and a committee chair. Your thesis defense is a presentation of your thesis followed by questioning from your thesis committee members.

After you enter the room, your committee chair asks you to briefly introduce and talk about your thesis for about 5-10 minutes. After that, members of the committee ask you additional questions about your research. These questions are often related to comments written in the thesis reviews that you receive copies of a few days prior to the defense. If you have addressed these questions/comments during your introduction (which is highly recommended), the committee members might ask you some additional questions about your work.

It is your responsibility to make the presentation short, interesting and clear for your audience. Select information that is crucial in relation to your research and findings. If you need to show tools from your research to communicate your point, do so. You can use multimedia during the presentation; however, you are not required to.

In your introduction/talk/summary provide information to the following questions (those that apply to your thesis):

  • Why did you choose the topic of your thesis?
  • What background ideas/scholarship did you review to prepare your research?
  • What did you learn through your research?
  • What issues did you analyze/investigate/examine?
  • How did you conduct your research?
  • What did you find out?
  • What are the implications of your research for teaching/educational practices? (graduate thesis)
  • What are some suggestions for future research?
  • If done again, how would you do your research differently?

After your defense, the defense committee briefly discusses your thesis and defense and awards you a grade.