Each student is required to pass an oral examination (the “dissertation defense”) defending their final dissertation. The dissertation defense can be scheduled any time after a student has been advanced to candidacy. The student must also be in good standing.

Students must submit their final dissertation to each member of their doctoral committee a minimum of four weeks’ before the defense date (per UC San Diego’s Dissertation & Thesis Submission Guidelines, https://grad.ucsd.edu/academics/preparing-to-graduate/dissertation-thesis-submission.html).

The dissertation defense must be publicly announced to all Joint Doctoral Program faculty, students, and staff a minimum of two weeks’ before the defense date.  Announcements are sent by e-mail.


Final Dissertation Defense Announcement

Final Dissertation Defense Announcement Template

Writing the Abstract:

Similar to the Dissertation Proposal, the abstract (not including the announcement details), must be no longer than 350 words.

The most common error in writing the abstract is failure to include a brief but complete description of the research project. A typical abstract should include:

  1. the questions or hypotheses under investigation;
  2. the participants, specifying pertinent characteristics;
  3. the experimental method;
  4. analytic approaches, including statistical significance levels;
  5. results;
  6. conclusions and the implications or applications.

For 3-Paper dissertations: It must be clear that you are proposing a 3-Paper dissertation and clearly list the 3 aims.


Getting Your Announcement Approved

The following is the procedure for getting the abstract and dissertation defense announcement approved:

STEP 1: Approval of Abstract by Dissertation Chair

The student must first submit the abstract to their Dissertation Chair (and Co-Chair if applicable) for approval. After the student has made any necessary changes required and has final approval by the Dissertation Chair, the student can finalize the defense announcement.

STEP 2: Approval of Final Defense Announcement by a JDP Co-Director

The Final Dissertation Defense Announcement (see template above) must be submitted by email to BOTH JDP Co-Directors for final approval. Please make sure you copy your Dissertation Chair (and Co-Chair if applicable) on the email. The email should include the student’s cell phone (or other phone numbers) so they can be called to discuss any questions or concerns the JDP Co-Directors may have; failure to be readily available by phone or email may delay the approval process.

Response to the initial request to review the final announcement (including the abstract) should be within a day or two. If either JDP Co-Director does not respond within a couple of days, please contact the respective offices to ensure that they are in town.

The JDP Co-Director(s) may ask you to make changes in the abstract. These requests will be sent to both you and your Dissertation Chair. The public announcement will not be sent out until one of the Co-Director(s) gives final approval.

STEP 3: Submitting the Approved Final Dissertation Defense Announcement for Distribution

Once your dissertation defense announcement has been approved by one of the JDP Co-Directors, it is ready to be sent for distribution. Please follow the guidelines listed below when submitting the final announcement for distribution.

Formulate an email as follows:

To: Graduate Coordinator of UC San Diego and Program Coordinator of SDSU

Cc: Dissertation Chair; Co-Chair (if applicable); SDSU Co-Director; UC San Diego Co-Director

Subject: [Your name] Final Dissertation Defense

Email Body: Please find a copy of my final dissertation defense announcement attached.  It has been approved by [Dissertation Chair name] and [JDP Co-Director name].

Attachment: The file should be a Word document, titled “Final Dissertation Defense [Your complete name] [date of the defense (e.g. October 10 2019)]”

Note: The public announcement must occur at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a forced delay of the dissertation defense to meet the two week minimum.


Final Dissertation Defense

The final dissertation defense is a public meeting. Although the dissertation defense will be open to the public, final determination of the content, including “passing” the dissertation defense, rests with the dissertation committee.

Circulate a copy of your final dissertation to your entire committee at least four weeks before your scheduled defense date.

Committee Participation at Final Dissertation Defense:*

  1. A doctoral committee member can participate in one of two ways: physically present (meaning they are in the room) or telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference).
  2. All but one committee member must be physically present. It is strongly recommended that all members be physically present. No more than one member may be telepresent.
  3. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.
  4. If an emergency situation arises that affects the number of committee members present, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members (either physically or telepresent) to examine the student.

Note: Departments and programs may impose more restrictive requirements regarding how to conduct these exams, as they deem appropriate. Rules #1 and #2 listed above have been modified by the JDP.

*Current Exception as of 3/18/2022: Effective through the end of Summer 2022 (September 18, 2022), the temporary authorization will remain in place to allow any or all members of a Master’s or Doctoral committee and/or the student being examined to participate in the qualifying examination and thesis or dissertation defense in person or remotely (meaning participation by live video teleconference).   

To refer to UC San Diego’s policy on Doctoral & Master’s Committees go to: http://grad.ucsd.edu/academics/progress-to-degree/committees.html#Appointment-of-the-Doctoral-Com.

Students also getting an MPH Degree: Please note it is not permissible to graduate with two different degrees in the same semester.  Therefore, the latest you will be allowed to graduate with your MPH degree is during the Fall semester of your internship year.


Processing the JDP-5 Form

For detailed steps on how to initiate/complete the JDP-5 Form – Report of the Final Examination and Filing of the Dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology, please visit the JDP-5 Form webpage under Student Handbook/JDP Forms. 

Updated 9/08/2021