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.

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

2 1/2 weeks before your FPO, please forward the following to the Graduate Program Office:

  • Reader's Report forms (one must be from your advisor) must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office by the reader. If you are advised or co-advised outside of ECE, please check the handbook for exceptions to the two-reader requirement. Note: If any of your readers are not Princeton University faculty members, please contact the ECE Graduate Program office. UPDATED August 1, 2020
  • Prior Presentation and Publication (signed by your advisor) must be submitted to the Graduate Program Office by you or your advisor.
  • Complete the advance degree application in TigerHub.
    • Before completing please confirm the date and time with your committee members.
    • If you will require an embargo on your dissertation you MUST request that when you complete the advance degree application. Please consult with your adviser.
    • 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 limit.
  • Email a pdf copy of your thesis to the Graduate Program office, cconrad@princeton.edu and roelie@princeton.edu.  We will upload the thesis to a secure site that only graduate students, faculty and staff have access to. Note: This replaces the previously required loose bound copy.  Please note, the document you upload does not have to be the final version of your thesis.  You can still make minor corrections after submitting your thesis but no substantive changes.

At least one week prior to your FPO, please forward the following to the Graduate Program Office:

  • Checkout form for students departing the University. Note: The Graduate School will NOT require the standard checkout form signed by Firestone Library (and University Housing where appropriate) to be submitted along with final degree paperwork. The Graduate School will be in contact with Firestone Library staff regarding your library account status. If there is an issue with your account, the Graduate School staff will reach out to you directly. The Graduate School understands that it may not be possible for you to physically return all books prior the June degree date, but does hope that you will make every effort to do so. For those who remain on campus, the external book drop slot will remain accessible. For those that want or need to return books to the library by shipping them back, please consult the library's FAQ.
  • 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.
  • Zoom link for your FPO.  Please make sure you have made arrangements with your advisor for a separate breakout session for the post FPO deliberation. 
  • Non-technical thesis abstract, 100 to 350 words, that will be posted as the description of an event on the ECE webpage along with the Zoom link for your FPO.
  • Request, if needed, for a letter of completion from the Graduate School, stating that you have met all of the requirements to receive your PHD.
  • Confirmation page of the Graduate School Exit Survey
  • Confirmation page of the Survey of Earned Doctorates
  • Confirmation that you have upload your thesis to the website. Please note: When you upload your thesis to the UMI site you will be asked about ordering copies of your thesis. You are not required to order from ProQuest; you can work through Smith Shattuck for binding and Princeton Printer for printing the pages. If you choose to order through ProQuest, the only option that will satisfy the Mudd requirement is the Hardcover 8.5 x 11. You only need one copy for Mudd. You DO NOT need to order a copy for the department. Your advisor may like a copy.

After Your FPO

  • Please be sure your advisor sends an email to the Graduate Program Coordinator to let the office know if you passed. We will prepare the Final Public Oral Exam report for signature by the Director of Graduate Studies and submit all of your paperwork to the Graduate School. We will copy you on the submission.
  • We will submit the completed and signed Final Public Oral Exam Report to Mudd Library, via email with a copy to you. If you have requested an embargo, please provide a pdf of the approval.
  • Upon receipt of the Final Public Oral Exam Report by Mudd Library via email, they will review your digital submission to the UMI website and will notify the Dean of the Graduate School that your submission is approved.

The bound copy of your thesis should be mailed to the library within six months of the FPO.

Attn: Sara Logue
Special Collections Suite
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544-2098


Time Table: From First Submission to Defense

Due to Graduate School requirements, all required paperwork is due to the Graduate Program Administrator 2.5 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 10.5 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
  • 2.5 WEEKS submit the Advance Degree Application and all required documents to the Graduate Program Administrator.

ECE departmental policy, set by a vote of the faculty, requires ONE READER in addition to your advisor, except in certain instances.  Please read on for details.  Please note that if any of your readers are not Princeton University faculty members, 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 reader of our thesis. If you are co-advised, you need only 3 readers, your two advisors and one other reader. Please remember that if your advisor is not an ECE faculty member, one of your readers must be an ECE faculty member.

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.

Announcement of FPO

One week prior to your FPO you must provide the Graduate Program Administrator with a non-technical, 100-350 work abstract of your FPO to be used to announce your FPO on the Department Events page. The Graduate Program Administrator will also announce the FPO to the Department via email.

FPO

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.

Bound Copies

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the bound copy of your thesis should be mailed to the library within six months of the FPO (Attn: Sara Logue, Special Collections Suite, Firestone Library, One Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544-2098). The department does not require a copy. Binding is your responsibility. Information outlining the correct and acceptable preparation of your final thesis can be found on the Mudd Library website. If you do not follow the policy, the thesis can be rejected.

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 correct corresponding deadline.

Letter of Completion

If you will begin a full-time job shortly after your FPO, the Graduate School staff will, upon request by the Department, prepare a letter stating you have completed the requirements for the Ph.D. and the month in which your degree will be conferred. Please let the Graduate Program Administrator know if you require such a letter.

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

Colleen C. Conrad
Graduate Program Administrator
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
609-258-6728
cconrad@princeton.edu