FPO Checklist

Preparation and Procedures for Ph.D. Defense

This document outlines the main steps in preparing for and scheduling the Final Public Oral (FPO) Examination of your Ph.D. thesis.

NOTE: Please also review the Graduate School's website for the most up-to-date information on the  Advanced Degree Application Process. Final public oral examinations are to take place in-person.

FPO Paperwork

Prior to holding your FPO you must obtain permission from the Graduate School to do so by completing an Advance Degree application.  The Advance Degree application is submitted online thru Tigerhub and will be reviewed and approved by the Department and forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval.

FPO Final Paperwork Timeline

 Three weeks before your FPO, or earlier if you are able, please submit:

  • Reader's Report forms (one must be from your advisor) must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office by the reader.  Please note the guidelines for the number of readers based on your advising situation:  
Advising Scenario Reader Requirement
ELE Advisor 2 readers, one must be a professor in ELE
Non-ELE advisor 2 readers, one must be a professor in ELE
Co-Advisor - both in ELE 3 readers, both advisors are typically readers
Co-Advisor - both outside ELE 3 readers, both advisors are typically readers and 1 ELE reader
Co-Advisor - 1 ELE and 1 outside ELE 3 readers, both advisors are typically readers

Note:  if any of your readers or committee members are not Princeton University faculty members, please provide their CV to the ECE Department Graduate Program Coordinator for approval by the Graduate School. 

  • Prior Presentation and Publication Form (signed by your advisor) must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office by you or your advisor.  
  • The advance degree application in TigerHub.
    • Before completing, please confirm the date and time with your committee members.  
    • Contact your adviser's faculty assistant to help you reserve your room.
    • if you will require an embargo on your dissertation, you MUST request that when you complete the Advance Degree application.  Please consult with your advisor.
    • upload  copy of your title page of your thesis; the date must be the month and year your degree will be conferred. 
    • upload a copy of your abstract;  please note there is a 350 word limitation. 
    • Has experimental data, and/or code been generated as part of this dissertation? Y or N. If yes, has the department been provided access to and reviewed all relevant data and/or code related to the dissertation?  Your adviser needs to email their Y/N answer to the Graduate Program Office.
    • Forward a copy of your thesis to the Graduate Program Office

One week in advance of your FPO, or earlier if you are able, please

  • Complete the Departmental Exit Form.  You will need to login with your Princeton NetID and password.  It is important that we have an email address for you and if available a forwarding address for mail.   
  • The department will use the abstract submitted with your application to advertise. If you would like to Provide a non-technical thesis abstract, 100 to 350 words instead, we will use that one to advertise.  If you would like to include a zoom link, we will include that in the advertisement as well.

After your FPO – it is very important if your FPO is on or near the degree deadline that the following is completed as quickly as possible.

  1. Please be sure your advisor sends an email to the Graduate Program office to let us know the committee members present and if you passed the FPO.  The Graduate School has instituted a new process for submitting final paperwork.   
  2. Log into TigerHub and go the Enrollment and Graduation tile
  3. Submit the checkout form (you must do this first)
  4. Submit final paperwork which is:
    1. Confirmation page of the Graduate School Exit Questionnaire.
    2. Confirmation page of the Survey of Earned Doctorates
    3. Confirmation that you have upload your thesis to the UMI website . 

You can also request a letter of completion when you submit your paperwork. 

Once you have completed the above and I have received the email confirmation from your advisor, I will approve the final paperwork and the paperwork will be sent to the DGS for final department approval.  

Review Mudd Library  Ph.D. Dissertation Submission Guidelines (updated 12/21/2021).

Most Ph.D. students on the April 2022 and future degree lists will not be required to submit a bound copy to the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Time Table: From First Submission to Defense

Due to Graduate School requirements, all required paperwork is due to the Graduate Program Administrator THREE WEEKS PRIOR to the date you intend to hold your FPO. This policy significantly impacts your preparation time. Following is a guideline to help you plan a "preparation and completion" timetable of the final draft and submission of your Ph.D. dissertation. Please plan to complete the "draft" of your Ph.D. thesis 11 WEEKS before the proposed day of your Final Public Oral Exam (FPO). Timeline detail below:

  • 3 WEEKS for a first reading by your readers
  • 2 WEEKS for making revisions
  • 2 WEEKS for the second reading by your readers
  • 1 WEEK to make a final version
  • 3.0  WEEKS submit the Advance Degree Application and all required documents to the Graduate Program Administrator.

FPO Committee

You must have three committee members, your advisor and two non-readers of your thesis. Please note that if you have a committee member that is not a Princeton University faculty member, you must provide their CV to the Graduate Program Administrator. The Graduate Program Administrator will forward the CV to the Graduate School for review and approval of the individual as a FPO committee member. If you are co-advised, you will need a total of 4 FPO Committee members, the two advisors and two faculty who have not read your thesis. Also, please remember if your advisor is not an ECE faculty member, one of your committee members MUST be an ECE faculty member.  Please refer to page --- of the Graduate Student Handbook.

Announcement of FPO

Once your FPO has been approved by the Graduate School the department will advertise your FPO on the department calendar and via email to the department. 


The FPO is nominally a 45-to-60 minute talk about your research. Two of the faculty examiners present at the FPO must be non-readers of your thesis. Following the public presentation, faculty examiners excuse the public audience and can ask you questions privately. Following the private questions, you will be excused and the faculty will vote. Following the FPO, your thesis adviser should notify the Graduate Program Administrator with the following information: Student's name, names of faculty present at FPO, and the result of the vote. It is this notification that will allow the Graduate Program office to complete your final graduation paperwork.

Review Mudd Library  Ph.D. Dissertation Submission Guidelines (updated 12/21/2021).

Most Ph.D. students on the April 2022 and future degree lists will not be required to submit a bound copy to the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Degree Lists

Degrees are conferred five times a year. The dates degrees are awarded correspond with the meetings of Princeton University's Board of Trustees, which confers advanced degrees. Dissertation title pages should reflect the month and year of the date the degree is conferred, not the actual date of defense. For a student to be awarded the Ph.D. on a degree date, the student must have successfully completed the FPO and returned all final paperwork to the Graduate School by the corresponding deadline.  Degree deadline dates can be viewed here.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact the Graduate Program Administrator.

Jean Bausmith
Graduate Program Administrator
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

[email protected]