Oral Defense of the Dissertation
The defense is open to the academic community, and members of that community are permitted to participate to the extent allowed by the dissertation director. It is the candidate’s responsibility, in consultation with the dissertation director, to arrange an appropriate date, time, and place for the defense. A defense is normally about two hours, but could end in less or more than that time. It is also the candidate’s responsibility formally to announce to the academic community the date, time, and place of the defense. Although the candidate may invite whomever he/she wishes, he/she is discouraged from inviting family members and non-academic friends. The defense is a serious exercise and involves trenchant inquiry, the demeanor of which might be misinterpreted by individuals outside the academic community.
The candidate must distribute her/his dissertation no less than 10 work days in advance of the defense to all members of the committee. The candidate must not arrange a date for the defense before the committee approves the dissertation text and indicates that no major revisions will be necessary. The draft of the dissertation distributed to the committee must be prepared in strict accordance with the rules and standards of the Graduate School. In regard to academic style, the comparative education program allows only University of Chicago Manual of Style or APA.
All members of the dissertation must attend the defense, except in the event of an emergency affecting no more that one committee member, but not the director, whom in all instances must be present. In the event of such an emergency, the Graduate School will consult the absent member before deciding to accept the results of the defense.
At the defense, normal protocol is for the director to begin by describing the nature and purpose of the defense hearing. The candidate is then asked to give a summary of her/his background as well as her/his participation and performance over the course of her/his academic career at Loyola and in the comparative education program. Subsequently, the candidate furnishes an overview of the dissertation, covering briefly a justification of the topic, the conceptual framework including issues pursued, methodology, findings, and conclusion(s). Each committee member then presents a set of questions to the candidate that forms the basis for discussion that can involve any members of the academic community who may be present.
At the conclusion of questioning and discussion, all individuals (including the candidate) not on the committee are requested to leave the room. The committee then deliberates and decides to approve or disapprove the dissertation and defense. The committee indicates approval by signing the top part of the approval form. A committee member indicating disapproval signs the bottom part of this form. For the dissertation and defense to be approved, all members of a three-person committee must approve. In the case of a four-member committee, the dissertation/defense may be approved with one, but no more than one, dissenting vote. Under no circumstance will the dissertation and defense be approved with a dissenting vote by the dissertation director. The candidate is then asked to return and given the result.
The committee may award a "Vote of Distinction" to designate truly exceptional work on both dissertation and defense. Such action may take place only for unusual and clearly distinguished work. A "Vote of Distinction" must be unanimous by the committee. This designation would be recorded on the candidate’s transcript.