Graduate Student Handbook


  • 4th year, January. Form dissertation committee. Submit and receive approval for the dissertation proposal
  • 3 months before proposed degree date. Sign up for graduation.
  • 1 month prior to the defense. Choose and obtain approval for two dissertation readers (Form D). Submit proposed final draft of the dissertation to your dissertation committee. Obtain approval to schedule the defense from your committee and Program Coordinator (Form C). Submit completed Form C to Academic Affairs, after which you should schedule the defense.
  • 3 weeks or more prior to the defense. Give final defense draft of the dissertation to your extended dissertation committee (including the readers).
  • 6 weeks before degree date. Submit draft dissertation to GSAS.
  • Defense day. Pick up orals package.
  • Post-defense. Do any required dissertation edits and obtain approval from your committee.
  • Post-edits. Do final dissertation submission to the graduate school.

Procedures & Regulations Pertaining to the Doctoral Dissertation

Required Preparations for the Dissertation & Oral Defense

The procedures for registering for graduation and submitting a dissertation are those of GSAS and are described here.

1. The Start

  • The Sponsor. Sponsorship is a mutual agreement between the student and a member of the faculty. Sponsors are not appointed; it is up to the student to find an appropriate sponsor. Sponsors must have appointments as regular members of the NYU Psychology faculty.
  • The Committee. At the time both you and your sponsor feel is appropriate, the sponsor notifies the Academic Affairs Office of the committee that he/she recommends to advise you through all phases of the dissertation (Form A). The committee is composed of the sponsor and at least two additional members. If a member is from another department within the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the department chair must give approval. If a member is from outside of GSAS, special approval must be given by the department chair and by the Graduate Curriculum Committee of the Dean's Office; a copy of that person's curriculum vitae is needed, as well as a statement of the need for inclusion on the committee and a description of his or her special area of expertise.
  • Proposal Meeting. Once the main committee has been formally approved by the chairperson, the student should arrange to meet with the committee to review the dissertation proposal. If approved, Form B must be filed in the Academic Affairs Office to register formal approval of the proposal.

2. The Middle

Regular Committee Meetings: While working on the dissertation, the student should meet at least once every six months with the members of the committee individually or in groups to review progress and to discuss problems that might have developed. It is the responsibility of the student and the sponsor to keep the committee current on the development of the thesis work. It is strongly recommended that the full committee be convened:

  • When any major problem in the results appears, or
  • When there is any major deviation from the plan outlined in the proposal.

Dissertation Draft: The sponsor works closely with the doctoral candidate in developing the dissertation draft. Candidates are advised to examine copies of dissertations that have been prepared by other students who worked with the sponsor to get a sense of the format and scope of the document. Unlike usual course papers, the dissertation typically goes through multiple, extensive revisions before it is ready to be defended. Committee members should review later drafts. They will typically make suggestions for revision prior to the defense. When the sponsor and the other committee members agree that the revised dissertation is ready to defend, then each should complete and sign Form C (Doctoral Thesis Approval Sheet). When possible, the committee should convene at the time the members prepare to sign Form C. The approval for the defense must be unanimous. All copies of Form C must be submitted to the Academic Affairs Office before the defense is scheduled and before Readers are appointed (see below).

3. The Final Stretch

Signing up for Graduation: There are three GSAS graduation dates each year in January, May and September and the GSAS procedures and schedules for each are described here. You must arrange to graduate through Albert at least three months before the degree date (check with the Academic Affairs staff or check the GSAS Submitting Your Dissertation page for the exact date). If there is any chance you will finish in time please sign up. If it has been some time since you signed up for graduation, it is always a good idea to check with Degree and Diploma (x84260).

4. The Finish

GSAS Rules. The summary that follows is based on the rules and deadlines of the Graduate School. All of the rules, procedures and dissertation formatting and submission requirements may be found here.

The Readers (Form D). At least a month prior to the time the defense is scheduled, two or more additional faculty members are chosen to serve as Readers. Readers are faculty members with expertise relevant to the dissertation topic, but who have not taken a major role in the development of the dissertation research. Their formal role is to assure quality control of the dissertation process by providing independent evaluations of the research quality, and by certifying that the dissertation is a genuine contribution to the field. In certain cases, Readers may be appointed who are not full time psychology faculty members, but they must be approved by the Graduate School, like other external committee members. Suggestions for Readers are submitted to the Academic Affairs Office on Form D and are approved by the Department Chair. The final composition of the five-person Extended Committee (sponsor, two members, two readers) must include a minimum of three full-time NYU psychology faculty members, and must include one member from outside of the Cognition & Perception Program (i.e., from another Program in the Department of Psychology, from another Department at NYU, or from outside of NYU).

Defense Date. After readers have been appointed, the candidate negotiates a mutually convenient time for the oral defense and notifies the Academic Affairs Office of the date, time, and place.

Orals Package. The Academic Affairs Office, based on the date of your defense, prepares an "Orals Package" which contains all the necessary forms for the committee's signatures. This package must then be picked up by the student or sponsor on the day of the orals - not before. It is then returned to the department office immediately after the orals. (When you later submit your final, revised copy of the dissertation to the Academic Affairs Office, your Orals package will be brought to the Degree & Diploma Office.)

The Dissertation Itself. GSAS has very specific rules for the format of the dissertation (margins, sections, etc.) and procedures for handling the final version of it. All of those rules are described here.

Filing of Draft Copy of the Dissertation and Necessary Forms. Approximately six weeks before the actual degree date, you must submit several forms and copies of the title page and abstract to the Office of Academic and Student Affairs as well as upload a draft copy of your dissertation so that it may be checked for adherence to the formatting rules. Again, the specific details may be obtained here.

Distribution of the Initial Dissertation. Copies of the dissertation MUST be distributed to the sponsor and to each of the committee members and readers AT LEAST THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE ORALS ARE SCHEDULED. Typically these are electronic copies, but members may request hardcopy and if requested, it should be provided promptly.

The Defense. The dissertation and oral defense must both be approved by at least 4 of the 5 members of the full committee. There are almost always additional minor revisions that are suggested in the dissertation draft as a result of discussions during the defense, and sometimes major revisions are required. Minor revisions are typically approved by the sponsor, but major revisions should be approved by a subset of two or more committee members.

Final Submission of Degree Materials. Once the final dissertation has been approved by your committee and advisor, follow the GSAS rules for submission of the final dissertation filing steps.