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. In addition, please obtain from the Academic Affairs Coordinator the latest document that describes the regulations and procedures involved in completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation in psychology at NYU. The regulations probably will not change but procedures may be changed as needed.

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 department chairperson of the committee (N=3, including sponsor) that he/she recommends to advise you through all phases of the dissertation (use Form A). 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 vita is needed, as well as a full statement of the need for inclusion on the committee and 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, the appropriate form (Form B) must be filed in the Department Office to register formal approval of the proposal.

2. The Middle

Regular Committee Meetings: While working on the dissertation, the student should meet with the 3-member committee AT LEAST ONCE EVERY SIX MONTHS to review progress and to discuss problems which might have developed. This in no way precludes more frequent meetings with the sponsor, or with other committee (or faculty) members, individually or as a group. 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 committee be convened:

  • When any considerable time has elapsed, e.g., more than six months since there has been communication with the committee,
  • When any major problem in the results appears,
  • When there is any major deviation from the plan outlined in the proposal, or
  • When the student and sponsor feel that data collection is completed and that the broad meanings of the data are discernable, but before the final drafting of the thesis has begun.

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. Revisions are usually suggested by committee members as well as the sponsor prior to the defense. When the sponsor and all the active committee members have made comments on the draft and agree that the revised dissertation is ready to defend, then each should complete and sign Form C (Doctoral Thesis Approval Sheet). When possible, the Active Committee should convene at the time the members prepare to sign Form C. The approval for the defense must be unanimous, and all copies of Form C must be submitted to the Academic Affairs Coordinator before the defense is scheduled.

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). Do not wait until the last week to check on this. Many students have not been eligible to graduate when they planned because they were not on the graduation list.

4. The Finish

The Readers (Form D). At least a month prior to the time the defense is scheduled, two or more additional faculty members are appointed by the Department Chair 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. Inevitably, the Readers provide the candidate with feedback on the research that is helpful for subsequent publication. 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 Coordinator 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).

Date and dissertation draft. After readers have been appointed, the candidate negotiates a mutually convenient time for the oral defense and notifies the Academic Affairs Coordinator of the date, time, and place. In general, the summer is a difficult time to schedule a defense; many faculty members are away and those who are on campus may be involved in special projects. Try to plan ahead so that your orals can be scheduled during the academic year. Room 551 will be made available for defense meetings whenever possible.

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 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 Coordinator, your Orals package will be brought to the Degree & Diploma Office.)

Filing of Draft Copy of the Dissertation and necessary forms. Approximately two months before the actual degree date, you must submit the following to the Office of Student Affairs & Academic Services (to make sure you have updated rules, please pick up the latest copy of "You and Your Dissertation" from Graduate Enrollment Services, One-half Fifth Avenue):

  • A DRAFT copy of the dissertation. This copy will be returned with a receipt. It can have paste-ons, written corrections, etc., and does not have to have the completed table of contents or reference list. (For typing format, see below.);
  • TWO unsigned copies of the title page in proper form (see below);
  • TWO copies of the abstract, in proper form (see below). The abstract can be revised later, but at this time must be accompanied by the signed Pink approval form in the packet you receive from Student Affairs;
  • TWO signed copies of the Dissertation Agreement (p. A6 in the "Publishing your Dissertation" guidebook in the packet from Student Affairs);
  • TWO signed copies of the Library Instruction Form (in the packet from Student Affairs) and one copy of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (in the packet from Student Affairs) and the GSAS survey.

Distribution of the Initial Dissertation. Clean, legible copies (with numbered pages at least in pencil) 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.

Number of Dissertation Copies. You will need at least SIX copies of the pre-orals draft of the dissertation [1 for yourself (the original, typed copy could be used; however, many students prefer to keep the copy in a place where it will stay clean, and to make a separate copy for their own use in preparing for the oral defense), 1 for the sponsor, and 1 for each main member and reader (N=4)]. AFTER the oral defense, the copies you have distributed to the 5-member committee and the department should be collected to have any revisions made in them. You will need at least SIX copies of the final, revised dissertation (either original or clean xerox copy for the Student Affairs and Academic Services, 1 for your sponsor, 2 for the main committee members, 1 for the Department, and 1 for yourself). However, please note: The readers frequently request a final copy of the dissertation, and the student may wish to comply with this request. Therefore, eight copies may be needed. The cost involved in making these copies is covered by the department (see Veronica Holton for the copy code).

5. The Dissertation Itself

Typing and Format of the Dissertation
  • The dissertation should be typed on bond paper, double-spaced throughout (including abstract and references).
  • The pages of the dissertation should be numbered in the upper right hand corner.
  • The left-hand margin must be at least 1.5 inches, so that the dissertation can be read after having been placed in a spring-form binder. (If the dissertation is long, the margin should be larger.) All other margins must be 1 inch.
  • Technical footnotes may be placed either at the bottom of the page on which they are referenced, or in a list of footnotes at the end of the dissertation. When placed at the bottom of the page, footnotes should be single-spaced with first line indented.
  • Reference and bibliographic style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association should be followed. Also refer to it for proper forms for tables, figures and appendices.
Title Page should include:
  • Title
  • Your name
  • New York University
  • Date (month & year) degree is expected
  • The following blurb: "A dissertation in the Department of Psychology submitted to the faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at New York University."
  • In the lower right hand corner: "Approved:Jane Doe, Research Advisor"

An abstract is a brief description of the dissertation. Abstracts should be DOUBLE-SPACED and 350 words or less. The following, not included in the count, should appear:

  • Full title of dissertation
  • Your name
  • Name of research advisor

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. When the final, revised dissertation is ready, it is submitted with the following material (the actual date that final degree material is due may be obtained from the Academic Affairs Coordinator; to make sure you have updated rules, please pick up the latest copy of "You and Your Dissertation" from Graduate Enrollment Services, One-half Fifth Avenue):

To the GSAS Academic Affairs Office: One copy of the final version in a black spring dissertation binder (available at the NYU Bookstore), preferably with an original signature on the title page. Upon receiving this, the Academic Affairs Coordinator brings the Orals Package (of signature forms) to the Degree & Diploma Office. If any maintenance matriculation fees are owed, obtain maintenance forms from the Academic Affairs Office and proceed to 25 West 4th Street to register and pay fees.

To the Office of Student Affairs & Academic Services:

  • A clean original or Xeroxed version of the final, revised dissertation on at least 20lb white bond paper with a watermark, with an original signature from the sponsor on the title page; it must be in a black spring dissertation binder.
  • The Yellow Approval Form with the sponsor's signature.
  • If any changes have been made in the abstract since the earlier filing, submit the final abstract, accompanied by a second title page with original signature of sponsor, and another Pink approval form. (See the Academic Affairs Coordinator for forms.)
  • If you are unable to complete revisions in time to meet the September or January filing deadline, you must maintain matriculation for the following semester: e.g., if you miss the date for the January degree, maintain matriculation for the spring semester. However, if you miss the May deadline, no additional fee is required to file for a degree in September.