Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

What is a thesis defense?

How long is a thesis defense, what happens at a thesis defense, your presentation, questions from the committee, 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense, 1. anticipate questions and prepare for them, 2. dress for success, 3. ask for help, as needed, 4. have a backup plan, 5. prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer, 6. de-stress before, during, and after, frequently asked questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense, related articles.

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at finishyourthesis.com notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.

defended a thesis

Graduate Center | Home

  • Newsletters

Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

A woman in front of a bookshelf speaking to a laptop

Written by Luke Wink-Moran | Photo by insta_photos

Dissertation defenses are daunting, and no wonder; it’s not a “dissertation discussion,” or a “dissertation dialogue.” The name alone implies that the dissertation you’ve spent the last x number of years working on is subject to attack. And if you don’t feel trepidation for semantic reasons, you might be nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Our imaginations are great at making The Unknown scarier than reality. The good news is that you’ll find in this newsletter article experts who can shed light on what dissertations defenses are really like, and what you can do to prepare for them.

The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it’s so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

“To me,” noted Dr. Atkins, who wrote her dissertation on how sociology faculty from traditionally marginalized backgrounds teach about privilege and inequality, “the most important part of the doctoral journey was finding an advisor who understood and supported what I wanted from my education and who was willing to challenge me and push me, while not delaying me.  I would encourage future PhDs to really take the time to get to know the faculty before choosing an advisor and to make sure that the members of their committee work well together.”

Your advisor will be the one who helps you refine arguments and strengthen your work so that by the time it reaches your dissertation committee, it’s ready. Next comes the writing process, which many students have said was the hardest part of their PhD. I’ve included this section on the writing process because this is where you’ll create all the material you’ll present during your defense, so it’s important to navigate it successfully. The writing process is intellectually grueling, it eats time and energy, and it’s where many students find themselves paddling frantically to avoid languishing in the “All-But-Dissertation” doldrums. The writing process is also likely to encroach on other parts of your life. For instance, Dr. Cynthia Trejo wrote her dissertation on college preparation for Latin American students while caring for a twelve-year-old, two adult children, and her aging parents—in the middle of a pandemic. When I asked Dr. Trejo how she did this, she replied:

“I don’t take the privilege of education for granted. My son knew I got up at 4:00 a.m. every morning, even on weekends, even on holidays; and it’s a blessing that he’s seen that work ethic and that dedication and the end result.”

Importantly, Dr. Trejo also exercised regularly and joined several online writing groups at UArizona. She mobilized her support network— her partner, parents, and even friends from high school to help care for her son.

The challenges you face during the writing process can vary by discipline. Jessika Iwanski is an MD/PhD student who in 2022 defended her dissertation on genetic mutations in sarcomeric proteins that lead to severe, neonatal dilated cardiomyopathy. She described her writing experience as “an intricate process of balancing many things at once with a deadline (defense day) that seems to be creeping up faster and faster— finishing up experiments, drafting the dissertation, preparing your presentation, filling out all the necessary documents for your defense and also, for MD/PhD students, beginning to reintegrate into the clinical world (reviewing your clinical knowledge and skill sets)!”

But no matter what your unique challenges are, writing a dissertation can take a toll on your mental health. Almost every student I spoke with said they saw a therapist and found their sessions enormously helpful. They also looked to the people in their lives for support. Dr. Betsy Labiner, who wrote her dissertation on Interiority, Truth, and Violence in Early Modern Drama, recommended, “Keep your loved ones close! This is so hard – the dissertation lends itself to isolation, especially in the final stages. Plus, a huge number of your family and friends simply won’t understand what you’re going through. But they love you and want to help and are great for getting you out of your head and into a space where you can enjoy life even when you feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash.”

While you might sometimes feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash, remember: a) no it’s not, you brilliant scholar, and b) the best dissertations aren’t necessarily perfect dissertations. According to Dr. Trejo, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” So don’t get hung up on perfecting every detail of your work. Think of your dissertation as a long-form assignment that you need to finish in order to move onto the next stage of your career. Many students continue revising after graduation and submit their work for publication or other professional objectives.

When you do finish writing your dissertation, it’s time to schedule your defense and invite friends and family to the part of the exam that’s open to the public. When that moment comes, how do you prepare to present your work and field questions about it?

“I reread my dissertation in full in one sitting,” said Dr. Labiner. “During all my time writing it, I’d never read more than one complete chapter at a time! It was a huge confidence boost to read my work in full and realize that I had produced a compelling, engaging, original argument.”

There are many other ways to prepare: create presentation slides and practice presenting them to friends or alone; think of questions you might be asked and answer them; think about what you want to wear or where you might want to sit (if you’re presenting on Zoom) that might give you a confidence boost. Iwanksi practiced presenting with her mentor and reviewed current papers to anticipate what questions her committee might ask.  If you want to really get in the zone, you can emulate Dr. Labiner and do a full dress rehearsal on Zoom the day before your defense.

But no matter what you do, you’ll still be nervous:

“I had a sense of the logistics, the timing, and so on, but I didn’t really have clear expectations outside of the structure. It was a sort of nebulous three hours in which I expected to be nauseatingly terrified,” recalled Dr. Labiner.

“I expected it to be terrifying, with lots of difficult questions and constructive criticism/comments given,” agreed Iwanski.

“I expected it to be very scary,” said Dr. Trejo.

“I expected it to be like I was on trial, and I’d have to defend myself and prove I deserved a PhD,” said Dr Atkins.

And, eventually, inexorably, it will be time to present.  

“It was actually very enjoyable” said Iwanski. “It was more of a celebration of years of work put into this project—not only by me but by my mentor, colleagues, lab members and collaborators! I felt very supported by all my committee members and, rather than it being a rapid fire of questions, it was more of a scientific discussion amongst colleagues who are passionate about heart disease and muscle biology.”

“I was anxious right when I logged on to the Zoom call for it,” said Dr. Labiner, “but I was blown away by the number of family and friends that showed up to support me. I had invited a lot of people who I didn’t at all think would come, but every single person I invited was there! Having about 40 guests – many of them joining from different states and several from different countries! – made me feel so loved and celebrated that my nerves were steadied very quickly. It also helped me go into ‘teaching mode’ about my work, so it felt like getting to lead a seminar on my most favorite literature.”

“In reality, my dissertation defense was similar to presenting at an academic conference,” said Dr. Atkins. “I went over my research in a practiced and organized way, and I fielded questions from the audience.

“It was a celebration and an important benchmark for me,” said Dr. Trejo. “It was a pretty happy day. Like the punctuation at the end of your sentence: this sentence is done; this journey is done. You can start the next sentence.”

If you want to learn more about dissertations in your own discipline, don’t hesitate to reach out to graduates from your program and ask them about their experiences. If you’d like to avail yourself of some of the resources that helped students in this article while they wrote and defended their dissertations, check out these links:

The Graduate Writing Lab

https://thinktank.arizona.edu/writing-center/graduate-writing-lab

The Writing Skills Improvement Program

https://wsip.arizona.edu

Campus Health Counseling and Psych Services

https://caps.arizona.edu

https://www.scribbr.com/

Grad Coach

Preparing For Your Dissertation Defense

13 Key Questions To Expect In The Viva Voce

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) & David Phair (PhD) . Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2021

Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a “viva voce”) is a formidable task . All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you’ll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you’ve encountered so far.

It’s natural to feel a little nervous.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important questions you should be able to answer in your viva voce, whether it’s for a Masters or PhD degree. Naturally, they might not arise in exactly the same form (some may not come up at all), but if you can answer these questions well, it means you’re in a good position to tackle your oral defense.

Dissertation and thesis defense 101

Viva Voce Prep: 13 Essential Questions

  • What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?
  • How did your research questions evolve during the research process?
  • How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?
  • How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?
  • How generalisable and valid are the findings?
  • What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?
  • How did your findings relate to the existing literature?
  • What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?
  • Were there any findings that surprised you?
  • What biases may exist in your research?
  • How can your findings be put into practice?
  • How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?
  • If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

#1: What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?

This question, a classic party starter, is pretty straightforward.

What the dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to clearly articulate your research aims, objectives and research questions in a concise manner. Concise is the keyword here – you need to clearly explain your research topic without rambling on for a half-hour. Don’t feel the need to go into the weeds here – you’ll have many opportunities to unpack the details later on.

In the second half of the question, they’re looking for a brief explanation of the justification of your research. In other words, why was this particular set of research aims, objectives and questions worth addressing? To address this question well in your oral defense, you need to make it clear what gap existed within the research and why that gap was worth filling.

#2: How did your research questions evolve during the research process?

Good research generally follows a long and winding path . It’s seldom a straight line (unless you got really lucky). What they’re assessing here is your ability to follow that path and let the research process unfold.

Specifically, they’ll want to hear about the impact that the literature review process had on you in terms of shaping the research aims, objectives and research questions . For example, you may have started with a certain set of aims, but then as you immersed yourself in the literature, you may have changed direction. Similarly, your initial fieldwork findings may have turned out some unexpected data that drove you to adjust or expand on your initial research questions.

Long story short – a good defense involves clearly describing your research journey , including all the twists and turns. Adjusting your direction based on findings in the literature or the fieldwork shows that you’re responsive , which is essential for high-quality research.

You will need to explain the impact of your literature review in the defense

#3: How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?

A comprehensive literature review is the foundation of any high-quality piece of research. With this question, your dissertation or thesis committee are trying to assess which quality criteria and approach you used to select the sources for your literature review.

Typically, good research draws on both the seminal work in the respective field and more recent sources . In other words, a combination of the older landmark studies and pivotal work, along with up-to-date sources that build on to those older studies. This combination ensures that the study has a rock-solid foundation but is not out of date.

So, make sure that your study draws on a mix of both the “classics” and new kids on the block, and take note of any major evolutions in the literature that you can use as an example when asked this question in your viva voce.

#4: How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?

This is a classic methodological question that you can almost certainly expect in some or other shape.

What they’re looking for here is a clear articulation of the research design and methodology, as well as a strong justification of each choice . So, you need to be able to walk through each methodological choice and clearly explain both what you did and why you did it. The why is particularly important – you need to be able to justify each choice you made by clearly linking your design back to your research aims, objectives and research questions, while also taking into account practical constraints.

To ensure you cover every base, check out our research methodology vlog post , as well as our post covering the Research Onion .

You have to justify every choice in your dissertation defence

#5: How generalizable and valid are the findings?

This question is aimed at specifically digging into your understanding of the sample and how that relates to the population, as well as potential validity issues in your methodology.

To answer question this well, you’ll need to critically assess your sample and findings and consider if they truly apply to the entire population, as well as whether they assessed what they set out to. Note that there are two components here – generalizability and validity . Generalizability is about how well the sample represents the population. Validity is about how accurately you’ve measured what you intended to measure .

To ace this part of your dissertation defense, make sure that you’re very familiar with the concepts of generalizability , validity and reliability , and how these apply to your research. Remember, you don’t need to achieve perfection – you just need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your research (and how the weaknesses could be improved upon).

Need a helping hand?

defended a thesis

#6: What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?

This question picks up where the last one left off.

As I mentioned, it’s perfectly natural that your research will have shortcomings and limitations as a result of your chosen design and methodology. No piece of research is flawless. Therefore, a good dissertation defense is not about arguing that your work is perfect, but rather it’s about clearly articulating the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.

To address this question well, you need to think critically about all of the potential weaknesses your design may have, as well as potential responses to these (which could be adopted in future research) to ensure you’re well prepared for this question. For a list of common methodological limitations, check out our video about research limitations here .

#7: How did your findings relate to the existing literature?

This common dissertation defense question links directly to your discussion chapter , where you would have presented and discussed the findings in relation to your literature review.

What your dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to compare your study’s findings to the findings of existing research . Specifically, you need to discuss which findings aligned with existing research and which findings did not. For those findings that contrasted against existing research, you should also explain what you believe to be the reasons for this.

As with many questions in a viva voce, it’s both the what and the why that matter here. So, you need to think deeply about what the underlying reasons may be for both the similarities and differences between your findings and those of similar studies.

Your dissertation defense needs to compare findings

#8: What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?

This question is similar to the last one in that it too focuses on your research findings. However, here the focus is specifically on the findings that directly relate to your research questions (as opposed to findings in general).

So, a good way to prepare for this question is to step back and revisit your research questions . Ask yourself the following:

  • What exactly were you asking in those questions, and what did your research uncover concerning them?
  • Which questions were well answered by your study and which ones were lacking?
  • Why were they lacking and what more could be done to address this in future research?

Conquering this part dissertation defense requires that you focus squarely on the research questions. Your study will have provided many findings (hopefully!), and not all of these will link directly to the research questions. Therefore, you need to clear your mind of all of the fascinating side paths your study may have lead you down and regain a clear focus on the research questions .

#9: Were there any findings that surprised you?

This question is two-pronged.

First, you should discuss the surprising findings that were directly related to the original research questions . Going into your research, you likely had some expectations in terms of what you would find, so this is your opportunity to discuss the outcomes that emerged as contrary to what you initially expected. You’ll also want to think about what the reasons for these contrasts may be.

Second, you should discuss the findings that weren’t directly related to the research questions, but that emerged from the data set . You may have a few or you may have none – although generally there are a handful of interesting musings that you can glean from the data set. Again, make sure you can articulate why you find these interesting and what it means for future research in the area.

What the committee is looking for in this type of question is your ability to interpret the findings holistically and comprehensively , and to respond to unexpected data. So, take the time to zoom out and reflect on your findings thoroughly.

Discuss the findings in your defense

#10: What biases may exist in your research?

Biases… we all have them.

For this question, you’ll need to think about potential biases in your research , in the data itself but also in your interpretation of the data. With this question, your committee is assessing whether you have considered your own potential biases and the biases inherent in your analysis approach (i.e. your methodology). So, think carefully about these research biases and be ready to explain how these may exist in your study.

In an oral defense, this question is often followed up with a question on how the biases were mitigated or could be mitigated in future research. So, give some thought not just to what biases may exist, but also the mitigation measures (in your own study and for future research).

#11: How can your findings be put into practice?

Another classic question in the typical viva voce.

With this question, your committee is assessing your ability to bring your findings back down to earth and demonstrate their practical value and application. Importantly, this question is not about the contribution to academia or the overall field of research (we’ll get to that next) – it is specifically asking about how this newly created knowledge can be used in the real world.

Naturally, the actionability of your findings will vary depending on the nature of your research topic. Some studies will produce many action points and some won’t. If you’re researching marketing strategies within an industry, for example, you should be able to make some very specific recommendations for marketing practitioners in that industry.

To help you flesh out points for this question, look back at your original justification for the research (i.e. in your introduction and literature review chapters). What were the driving forces that led you to research your specific topic? That justification should help you identify ways in which your findings can be put into practice.

#12: How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?

While the previous question was aimed at practical contribution, this question is aimed at theoretical contribution . In other words, what is the significance of your study within the current body of research? How does it fit into the existing research and what does it add to it?

This question is often asked by a field specialist and is used to assess whether you’re able to place your findings into the research field to critically convey what your research contributed. This argument needs to be well justified – in other words, you can’t just discuss what your research contributed, you need to also back each proposition up with a strong why .

To answer this question well, you need to humbly consider the quality and impact of your work and to be realistic in your response. You don’t want to come across as arrogant (“my work is groundbreaking”), nor do you want to undersell the impact of your work. So, it’s important to strike the right balance between realistic and pessimistic .

This question also opens the door to questions about potential future research . So, think about what future research opportunities your study has created and which of these you feel are of the highest priority.

Discuss your contribution in your thesis defence

#13: If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

This question is often used to wrap up a viva voce as it brings the discussion full circle.

Here, your committee is again assessing your ability to clearly identify and articulate the limitations and shortcomings of your research, both in terms of research design and topic focus . Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been better to use a different analysis method or data set. Perhaps the research questions should have leaned in a slightly different direction. And so on.

This question intends to assess whether you’re able to look at your work critically , assess where the weaknesses are and make recommendations for the future. This question often sets apart those who did the research purely because it was required, from those that genuinely engaged with their research. So, don’t hold back here – reflect on your entire research journey ask yourself how you’d do things differently if you were starting with a  blank canvas today.

Recap: The 13 Key Dissertation Defense Questions

To recap, here are the 13 questions you need to be ready for to ace your dissertation or thesis oral defense:

As I mentioned, this list of dissertation defense questions is certainly not exhaustive – don’t assume that we’ve covered every possible question here. However, these questions are quite likely to come up in some shape or form in a typical dissertation or thesis defense, whether it’s for a Master’s degree, PhD or any other research degree. So, you should take the time to make sure you can answer them well.

If you need assistance preparing for your dissertation defense or viva voce, get in touch with us to discuss 1-on-1 coaching. We can critically review your research and identify potential issues and responses, as well as undertake a mock oral defense to prepare you for the pressures and stresses on the day.

defended a thesis

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

You Might Also Like:

Research aims, research objectives and research questions

12 Comments

Jalla Dullacha

Very interesting

Fumtchum JEFFREY

Interesting. I appreciate!

Dargo Haftu

Really appreciating

My field is International Trade

Abera Gezahegn

Interesting

Peter Gumisiriza

This is a full course on defence. I was fabulously enlightened and I gained enough confidence for my upcoming Masters Defence.

There are many lessons to learn and the simplicity in presentationmakes thee reader say “YesI can”

Milly Nalugoti

This is so helping… it has Enlightened me on how to answer specific questions. I pray to make it through for my upcoming defense

Derek Jansen

Lovely to hear that 🙂

bautister

Really educative and beneficial

Tweheyo Charles

Interesting. On-point and elaborate. And comforting too! Thanks.

Ismailu Kulme Emmanuel

Thank you very much for the enlightening me, be blessed

Gladys Oyat

Thankyou so much. I am planning to defend my thesis soon and I found this very useful

Augustine Mtega

Very interesting and useful to all masters and PhD students

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

defended a thesis

  • Print Friendly

Campus MyThesis Academy

The unique, worldwide Campus where you´ll learn how to write a thesis advised by an expert who graduated summa cum laude

defended a thesis

Mastering Your Thesis Defense: An In-depth Guide

thesis-defense

We applaud your persistence and dedication in reaching the final step of your journey: the thesis defense . This is the crucial stage where you are called to succinctly articulate the results of your hard work. To prepare you for this task, we will provide a comprehensive guide on effectively preparing for your thesis defense .

The Pinnacle of Your Journey: Preparing for Your Thesis Defense

Thesis submission: a significant milestone.

Months, perhaps even years of attending lectures, conducting research, participating in fieldwork, analyzing data, and critically assessing your findings have led you to this point: the day of

Thesis Defense Preparation

 your thesis defense . Not to mention the rigorous process of editing and proofreading your dissertation . The day of submitting your Ph.D. thesis is undoubtedly a red-letter day in your academic journey. You probably celebrated this momentous thesis submission with your near and dear ones, taking a breather after an extended period of focused work.

The Next Step: Preparing for the Thesis Defense

However, after some time, you start to realize that there’s one final hurdle: the thesis defense! This includes preparing your thesis defense presentation and gearing up for the oral examination, often referred to as the disputation. So, what should you bear in mind while preparing for your master’s thesis defense or your Ph.D. thesis defense?

Practical Tips for Your Disputation Preparation

Thesis Defense Preparation

  • Generate a draft version of your presentation.
  • Consider the most suitable format and software for your thesis defense presentation , such as PowerPoint, Keynote, and others.
  • Compile a list of the most crucial sources and references .
  • Incorporate pivotal graphics, photographs, and videos in your presentation.
  • Draft and brainstorm for your thesis defense while the information is still fresh in your mind.
  • Ensure that you don’t put your dissertation out of sight after submitting it, as you’ll need to recall it in detail during your thesis defense presentation!
Excel in Your Thesis Defense with Campus MyThesis Academy   At MyThesis Academy , we understand the challenges that come with preparing for a thesis defense. That’s why we’ve committed ourselves to providing the best e-learning resources to guide you through this process. Our online campus offers a comprehensive range of learning materials designed to help you excel in your thesis defense. Whether you’re working on your bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. thesis defense presentation, we have tailored resources that will make a significant difference. We provide insights into how to create an excellent presentation and stand out from the crowd. Here’s what we offer on our e-learning platform: Guidelines on how to adhere to your presentation’s time frame effectively. Tips on developing a professional presentation using various software such as PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. Advice on slide preparation and design style to maintain a coherent and engaging presentation. Tips on how to focus on the most crucial information and avoid overloading your slides with excessive text. Guidance on practicing your presentation effectively with family and friends. We are serious about making academic progress accessible and straightforward. We are committed to your success and we want to ensure that you feel supported throughout your journey. At MyThesis Academy , we’re interested in your success, and we’ve got the tools to help you achieve it!

Understanding the Concept of a Thesis Defense

The thesis defense is the concluding oral examination that officially rounds off the process of submitting your thesis.

Option 1: Defending Your Academic Work (Disputation)

As the term suggests, you must defend your academic work before an audience composed of a committee and a select group of guests. The committee typically includes your primary and secondary supervisor and the chair of your Ph.D. examination board. The decision and format of allowing external guests may vary from one university to another.

Thesis Defense Presentation

This involves an opening segment where you present the core aspects of your work, followed by a Q&A segment where the audience can pose questions and comments.

Option 2: Undertaking a “Rigorosum”

Some universities may adhere to the traditional form of a “ Rigorosum ” for their Ph.D. candidates. In this scenario, you must prepare two brief presentations of approximately 15 minutes each on topics from the same discipline but different fields, followed by a question-and-answer segment led by the committee.

The Thesis Defense Process: Three Key Phases

The thesis defense or disputation typically consists of two key official parts and a concluding phase.

Phase One: Opening and Presentation

In the initial phase, you are expected to present:

  • The central questions of your dissertation
  • The primary focus or research aims
  • Basic concepts (briefly)
  • Significant sources and data material
  • Methodologies of analysis
  • The outcomes of your research

Considering the time constraint, all these elements must be presented succinctly.

Phase Two: Discussion and Questioning – Disputation

In the second phase, the examination board and the audience pose broad and detailed questions, leading to a discussion. The chair of the examination board moderates the order of questions.

Thesis Defense Q&A

The order of questioning typically includes:

  • First and second supervisor
  • Members of the board
  • Other (internal) academics and colleagues
  • Audience (external academics and non-academic guests)

Phase Three: Conclusion and Evaluation

To wrap up, the chair concludes the discussion when all questions have been posed or when the allotted time is up. The audience is then asked to step out, and the examination board gathers

for a brief private final evaluation. Following this, the final result is announced.

Thesis Defense Evaluation

Clarifying a Common Confusion: Defense or Defence?

Is there a difference between defense and defence ? The answer is, no. The variation in spelling— thesis defense or thesis defence —is simply a matter of geographical convention. While

American English prefers the spelling ‘defense’, British and Canadian English use ‘defence’. Regardless of the spelling, the process and proceedings of a defence or defense remain the same!

Determining the Duration of a Thesis Defense⌛

The exact format and duration of a thesis defense can differ from one university to another. Generally, the initial presentation lasts around 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a questioning segment ranging from 30 to 60 minutes .

How to Excel in Your Thesis Defense: Key Points and Secrets✨

Whether you’re crafting your bachelor’s thesis presentation, your master’s thesis defense presentation, or preparing for your Ph.D. disputation, there are certain crucial points that differentiate an excellent presentation from a mediocre one. Here’s a checklist with some critical elements that can help make your presentation clear and coherent for the audience:

  • Stay within the time limit: double-check if your presentation fits within the given time frame.
  • Develop a professional presentation using PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.
  • Avoid using just a handwritten draft paper and not checking your presentation’s timing.
  • Refrain from preparing too many slides.
  • Do not overload the slides with excessive text.
  • Focus only on the most crucial information.
  • Choose a coherent design style for the presentation.
  • Ensure that you have an opening slide, including the date, title, supervisors’ names, and details about your University/Faculty, etc.
  • Practice the presentation with family and friends.

Then, it’s time to celebrate! Congratulations!

For more specific design ideas, presentation examples, and a collection of tips and advice on crafting your presentation, visit our thesis defense presentation templates section!

Do not use complex words or phrases. Make it easy to understand. Let the reader feel, that he is in good hands and that we are serious about it! Make him feel, that we are interested in him and his success!

About the author:

Dr. Friederike Jurth

Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth , and since 2010 I give lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010 I started to carry out 7-year-long fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro and to present my research at conferences all around the world, such as in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many others. In addition, I worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s famous UNESCO Chair.

After finalizing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude , it became my aim to unite, condense and share the steps, ways and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I could develop and elaborate during my Ph.D. and that finally helped me to achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together to an elaborated academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the only aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, it enables them to achieve their best possible result in shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.

  • SSL Protection

© Copyright 2024 - MyThesis Academy®. All rights reserved.

defended a thesis

Masterclass Free

defended a thesis

defended a thesis

The Plagiarism Checker Online For Your Academic Work

Start Plagiarism Check

Editing & Proofreading for Your Research Paper

Get it proofread now

Online Printing & Binding with Free Express Delivery

Configure binding now

  • Academic essay overview
  • The writing process
  • Structuring academic essays
  • Types of academic essays
  • Academic writing overview
  • Sentence structure
  • Academic writing process
  • Improving your academic writing
  • Titles and headings
  • APA style overview
  • APA citation & referencing
  • APA structure & sections
  • Citation & referencing
  • Structure and sections
  • APA examples overview
  • Commonly used citations
  • Other examples
  • British English vs. American English
  • Chicago style overview
  • Chicago citation & referencing
  • Chicago structure & sections
  • Chicago style examples
  • Citing sources overview
  • Citation format
  • Citation examples
  • College essay overview
  • Application
  • How to write a college essay
  • Types of college essays
  • Commonly confused words
  • Definitions
  • Dissertation overview
  • Dissertation structure & sections
  • Dissertation writing process
  • Graduate school overview
  • Application & admission
  • Study abroad
  • Master degree
  • Harvard referencing overview
  • Language rules overview
  • Grammatical rules & structures
  • Parts of speech
  • Punctuation
  • Methodology overview
  • Analyzing data
  • Experiments
  • Observations
  • Inductive vs. Deductive
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Types of validity
  • Types of reliability
  • Sampling methods
  • Theories & Concepts
  • Types of research studies
  • Types of variables
  • MLA style overview
  • MLA examples
  • MLA citation & referencing
  • MLA structure & sections
  • Plagiarism overview
  • Plagiarism checker
  • Types of plagiarism
  • Printing production overview
  • Research bias overview
  • Types of research bias
  • Example sections
  • Types of research papers
  • Research process overview
  • Problem statement
  • Research proposal
  • Research topic
  • Statistics overview
  • Levels of measurment
  • Frequency distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Measures of variability
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Parameters & test statistics
  • Types of distributions
  • Correlation
  • Effect size
  • Hypothesis testing assumptions
  • Types of ANOVAs
  • Types of chi-square
  • Statistical data
  • Statistical models
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Tips overview
  • Academic writing tips
  • Dissertation tips
  • Sources tips
  • Working with sources overview
  • Evaluating sources
  • Finding sources
  • Including sources
  • Types of sources

Your Step to Success

Plagiarism Check within 10min

Printing & Binding with 3D Live Preview

Thesis Defense – a guide to prepare best

How do you like this article cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Thesis-defense-355x237

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 Definition: Thesis Defense
  • 2 In a Nutshell
  • 3 Before the Thesis Defense
  • 4 What happens in a Thesis Defense?
  • 5 What to include?
  • 6 Tools for Thesis Defense
  • 7 Thesis Defense Anxiety
  • 8 Manage Thesis Defense Anxiety

Definition: Thesis Defense

A thesis defense is an act of presenting your work to a panel of professors so they can grade your presentation abilities. In retrospect, the argument is essential to ascertain that you understood the topic. You have to hand in your paper first so that the lecturer can grade it before you appear for the defense.

As a university student, you need to hand in a high-quality thesis paper and defend it before a panel of professors. So what is this that takes place during a thesis defense? Read along to find out.

In a Nutshell

So, there you have it. These tips should help you present your thesis defense and ace it. Remember that:

  • You should present facts that are in the paper. Do not add any new information
  • Make the thesis defense as enjoyable as possible
  • Arrive early enough
  • Do not exceed your allocated time
  • Confidence goes a long way

Before the Thesis Defense

Before the day of the thesis defense, the qualifying students receive a timetable that shows the chronology of how the day will be. You are required to keep time, or else you will have to wait until the next allocated defense to present your paper. To qualify as a defending student, you have to hand in your paper at least one month before the thesis defense date.

What happens in a Thesis Defense?

Once you get to the hall, you need to introduce yourself and your topic, then present your paper to the lecturers. The professors will allocate you ¾ of the allotted time for the thesis defense. The remaining time is used up in the question and answer forum. Prepare yourself to answer several questions, such as:

  • Your plans after completing the research
  • The limitations you faced
  • Things that you would change if given a chance
  • How you chose your target audience
  • How you intend to further your study on the subject
  • The reasons for choosing your topic
  • The most significant deductions you learned from the survey
  • Reasons for choosing your research methodology, etc.

In some cases, the board may ask you to summarize your deductions from the study. The questions asked are not standard, which means you have to be thoroughly prepared to answer whatever the panel throws your way during the thesis defense. Other things that take place during the thesis defense include:

  • Deliberations – At this point, the board of lecturers will ask you to leave the room as they deliberate on your thesis defense performance. They will then decide whether you move to the next level or you will defend again.
  • Verdict – Finally, the team will invite you back in and tell you how you performed in the thesis defense. These panel members may ask you to make a few corrections before you can go ahead and publish your paper. You have to present your corrections to your facilitator, who will then give you the go-ahead to publish.
  • Signing – The members will then sign your document to ascertain that you were part of the thesis defense team on the selected date.

How much time does a Thesis Defense take and how many people should be in the room?

During a thesis defense, each student appears before the panel individually. The facilitators will ask you questions concerning your topic to see if you fully grasped the concept. Each thesis defense will vary from the other depending on the technicality of your paper and the kind of degree you are pursuing.

  • Undergraduate degree – Your panel may include at least three lecturers from your faculty. Additionally, the defense may last up to one hour.
  • Masters degree – You get to interact with four professors at this level, and each student is allotted 1½ hours to present and answer questions.
  • Ph.D. degree – Considering that this is the highest education level, five professors avail themselves to vet you. More so, you may have to engage them for two hours.

thesis-defense-thesis-printing-binding-250x250

Thesis printing & binding

You are already done writing your thesis and need a high quality printing & binding service? Then you are right to choose BachelorPrint! Check out our 24-hour online printing service. For more information click the button below :

What to include?

A thesis defense follows a particular format, which cuts across all types of degrees, which is:

  • Introduction  – Explain the need for this study
  • Literature review  – Explain what other scholars have found on the subject
  • Research methodology  – What research method did you use, and why did you use it?
  • Findings and discussions  – In your research, what were the key deductions that you came upon?
  • Implications, limitations, suggestions, and  conclusion  – Here, you have to exhaust the setbacks you encountered during the study, the consequences that your target audience will face if they do not follow the deductions, and then finally sum up the discussions.

Tools for Thesis Defense

Considering that a thesis defense may take you at least 45 minutes to present, it is essential to make the presentation lively. So, you can incorporate a slide show and use images to make it less wordy. Bullet points also make the text easier to digest as opposed to a block of text. So, a laptop and a projector will help you ace your presentation.

Thesis Defense Anxiety

Standing before a panel of people waiting to hear how you conducted your research can be intimidating. This is especially so considering that you will be standing before a group of professors, who you believe to be superior to you in regards to the topic knowledge. More so, if you are not familiar with public speaking, it is easy to develop stage fright while defending.

Manage Thesis Defense Anxiety

In case you find yourself fidgeting before you begin presenting, use the following tips to help you get your composure back.

  • If you have a problem with eye-balling the lecturers, look at the tips of their foreheads instead.
  • Take a few seconds to breathe in and out so you can stabilize your speech if you begin to stammer.
  • Go into the room with a positive mind, knowing that you will do your best.
  • Most importantly, rehearse your thesis defense severally before the D-day.

What is a thesis defense?

A scholarly thesis defense is a forum that allows students to present their paper’s contents and defend their thesis topic before a panel of professors. The student is then required to answer all questions asked by the lecturers. At the end, the student is required to leave the room whilst the professors decide whether the thesis is ready to be published, or if it needs corrections.

How long is a thesis defense?

There is no general length for a thesis defense. The defense of a master’s thesis will take longer than the defense of a bachelor’s thesis. You will need to fit in an introduction , a literature review, your findings and even more into the time frame for your thesis defense, so it’s important that you’re well prepared. All in all, it depends on your paper and your academic field. Usually the thesis defense will last between one and two hours, but it also could be less than one hour.

What is the oral defense of a thesis?

Oral defense is simply another name for your thesis defense. If you’ve completed your thesis, you are required to defend it in front of a panel of professors. It is designed so that the committee can ensure that the students completely understand their thesis topic . The oral thesis defense is an examination of a completed body of work. Students will be assigned a date to defend their thesis.

What happens after the thesis defense?

After your thesis defense, you will be told to leave the room whilst the panel discusses your results. There are normally 2 outcomes. You may need to make changes to your thesis’ formatting or content. If this is the case, don’t stress! You’re able to try the thesis defense again once you’ve incorporated any required changes. The preferred outcome is that the panel is happy with your thesis and it’s then ready to be signed and published.

What defines a good thesis defense?

The thesis defense is the final step for your academic work. It’s important that you’re prepared and you’ve outlined what you’re going to say in each section of the defense. You need to know your thesis statement better than the back of your hand, otherwise you risk being sidetracked. Just like your thesis itself, your thesis defense has a specific structure. You can read more about this further on in the article. Try and prepare yourself for the potential types of questions that the professors will ask you so that you don’t have to think about your answers on the spot.

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential, while others help us to improve this website and your experience.

  • External Media

Individual Privacy Preferences

Cookie Details Privacy Policy Imprint

Here you will find an overview of all cookies used. You can give your consent to whole categories or display further information and select certain cookies.

Accept all Save

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the proper function of the website.

Show Cookie Information Hide Cookie Information

Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.

Content from video platforms and social media platforms is blocked by default. If External Media cookies are accepted, access to those contents no longer requires manual consent.

Privacy Policy Imprint

Enago Academy

13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense

' src=

How well do you know your project? Years of experiments, analysis of results, and tons of literature study, leads you to how well you know your research study. And, PhD dissertation defense is a finale to your PhD years. Often, researchers question how to excel at their thesis defense and spend countless hours on it. Days, weeks, months, and probably years of practice to complete your doctorate, needs to surpass the dissertation defense hurdle.

In this article, we will discuss details of how to excel at PhD dissertation defense and list down some interesting tips to prepare for your thesis defense.

Table of Contents

What Is Dissertation Defense?

Dissertation defense or Thesis defense is an opportunity to defend your research study amidst the academic professionals who will evaluate of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes be like a cross-examination session, but in reality you need not fear the thesis defense process and be well prepared.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/c/JamesHaytonPhDacademy

What are the expectations of committee members.

Choosing the dissertation committee is one of the most important decision for a research student. However, putting your dissertation committee becomes easier once you understand the expectations of committee members.

The basic function of your dissertation committee is to guide you through the process of proposing, writing, and revising your dissertation. Moreover, the committee members serve as mentors, giving constructive feedback on your writing and research, also guiding your revision efforts.

The dissertation committee is usually formed once the academic coursework is completed. Furthermore, by the time you begin your dissertation research, you get acquainted to the faculty members who will serve on your dissertation committee. Ultimately, who serves on your dissertation committee depends upon you.

Some universities allow an outside expert (a former professor or academic mentor) to serve on your committee. It is advisable to choose a faculty member who knows you and your research work.

How to Choose a Dissertation Committee Member?

  • Avoid popular and eminent faculty member
  • Choose the one you know very well and can approach whenever you need them
  • A faculty member whom you can learn from is apt.
  • Members of the committee can be your future mentors, co-authors, and research collaborators. Choose them keeping your future in mind.

How to Prepare for Dissertation Defense?

dissertation defense

1. Start Your Preparations Early

Thesis defense is not a 3 or 6 months’ exercise. Don’t wait until you have completed all your research objectives. Start your preparation well in advance, and make sure you know all the intricacies of your thesis and reasons to all the research experiments you conducted.

2. Attend Presentations by Other Candidates

Look out for open dissertation presentations at your university. In fact, you can attend open dissertation presentations at other universities too. Firstly, this will help you realize how thesis defense is not a scary process. Secondly, you will get the tricks and hacks on how other researchers are defending their thesis. Finally, you will understand why dissertation defense is necessary for the university, as well as the scientific community.

3. Take Enough Time to Prepare the Slides

Dissertation defense process harder than submitting your thesis well before the deadline. Ideally, you could start preparing the slides after finalizing your thesis. Spend more time in preparing the slides. Make sure you got the right data on the slides and rephrase your inferences, to create a logical flow to your presentation.

4. Structure the Presentation

Do not be haphazard in designing your presentation. Take time to create a good structured presentation. Furthermore, create high-quality slides which impresses the committee members. Make slides that hold your audience’s attention. Keep the presentation thorough and accurate, and use smart art to create better slides.

5. Practice Breathing Techniques

Watch a few TED talk videos and you will notice that speakers and orators are very fluent at their speech. In fact, you will not notice them taking a breath or falling short of breath. The only reason behind such effortless oratory skill is practice — practice in breathing technique.

Moreover, every speaker knows how to control their breath. Long and steady breaths are crucial. Pay attention to your breathing and slow it down. All you need I some practice prior to this moment.

6. Create an Impactful Introduction

The audience expects a lot from you. So your opening statement should enthrall the audience. Furthermore, your thesis should create an impact on the members; they should be thrilled by your thesis and the way you expose it.

The introduction answers most important questions, and most important of all “Is this presentation worth the time?” Therefore, it is important to make a good first impression , because the first few minutes sets the tone for your entire presentation.

7. Maintain Your Own List of Questions

While preparing for the presentation, make a note of all the questions that you ask yourself. Try to approach all the questions from a reader’s point of view. You could pretend like you do not know the topic and think of questions that could help you know the topic much better.

The list of questions will prepare you for the questions the members may pose while trying to understand your research. Attending other candidates’ open discussion will also help you assume the dissertation defense questions.

8. Practice Speech and Body Language

After successfully preparing your slides and practicing, you could start focusing on how you look while presenting your thesis. This exercise is not for your appearance but to know your body language and relax if need be.

Pay attention to your body language. Stand with your back straight, but relax your shoulders. The correct posture will give you the feel of self-confidence. So, observe yourself in the mirror and pay attention to movements you make.

9. Give Mock Presentation

Giving a trial defense in advance is a good practice. The most important factor for the mock defense is its similarity to your real defense, so that you get the experience that prepares for the actual defense.

10. Learn How to Handle Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. However, it is important to carry on. Do not let the mistakes affect your thesis defense. Take a deep breath and move on to the next point.

11. Do Not Run Through the Presentation

If you are nervous, you would want to end the presentation as soon as possible. However, this situation will give rise to anxiety and you will speak too fast, skipping the essential details. Eventually, creating a fiasco of your dissertation defense .

12. Get Plenty of Rest

Out of the dissertation defense preparation points, this one is extremely important. Obviously, sleeping a day before your big event is hard, but you have to focus and go to bed early, with the clear intentions of getting the rest you deserve.

13. Visualize Yourself Defending Your Thesis

This simple exercise creates an immense impact on your self-confidence. All you have to do is visualize yourself giving a successful presentation each evening before going to sleep. Everyday till the day of your thesis defense, see yourself standing in front of the audience and going from one point to another.

This exercise takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but the results in the end are worth it. Visualization makes you see yourself doing the scary thing of defending your thesis.

If you have taken all these points into consideration, you are ready for your big day. You have worked relentlessly for your PhD degree , and you will definitely give your best in this final step.

Have you completed your thesis defense? How did you prepare for it and how was your experience throughout your dissertation defense ? Do write to us or comment below.

' src=

The tips are very useful.I will recomend it to our students.

Excellent. As a therapist trying to help a parent of a candidate, I am very impressed and thankful your concise, clear, action-oriented article. Thank you.

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

defended a thesis

Enago Academy's Most Popular

Networking in Academic Conferences

  • Career Corner

Unlocking the Power of Networking in Academic Conferences

Embarking on your first academic conference experience? Fear not, we got you covered! Academic conferences…

Research recommendation

  • Reporting Research

Research Recommendations – Guiding policy-makers for evidence-based decision making

Research recommendations play a crucial role in guiding scholars and researchers toward fruitful avenues of…

Concept Papers

  • Promoting Research

Concept Papers in Research: Deciphering the blueprint of brilliance

Concept papers hold significant importance as a precursor to a full-fledged research proposal in academia…

Writing Argumentative Essays

8 Effective Strategies to Write Argumentative Essays

In a bustling university town, there lived a student named Alex. Popular for creativity and…

defended a thesis

  • AI in Academia

Disclosing the Use of Generative AI: Best practices for authors in manuscript preparation

The rapid proliferation of generative and other AI-based tools in research writing has ignited an…

Setting Rationale in Research: Cracking the code for excelling at research

Mitigating Survivorship Bias in Scholarly Research: 10 tips to enhance data integrity

The Power of Proofreading: Taking your academic work to the next level

Facing Difficulty Writing an Academic Essay? — Here is your one-stop solution!

defended a thesis

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

  • 2000+ blog articles
  • 50+ Webinars
  • 10+ Expert podcasts
  • 50+ Infographics
  • 10+ Checklists
  • Research Guides

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

defended a thesis

According to you, how can one ensure ethical compliance in research and academia?

Custom Essay, Term Paper & Research paper writing services

  • testimonials

Toll Free: +1 (888) 354-4744

Email: [email protected]

Writing custom essays & research papers since 2008

What is a thesis defense defending dissertation.

thesis defense

You’re reading this article because you probably have an upcoming thesis defense. Maybe you’ve worked hard for years or months, and now that moment for wrapping things up is finally here. Whether you want to defend a thesis for a doctorate or master’s degree, you’re about to take that final step.

But, you must research extensively and prepare for the final presentation. As the content for your thesis is vital, so is your presentation. A stunning design with text hierarchy and precise data plays a crucial role in your thesis comprehension. This article answers the question, what is thesis defense? It goes ahead to explain the process of defending dissertation.

Any student that doesn’t know how to defend a thesis or even prepare for the presentation will find this article helpful. Reading this article will let you know what a dissertation or thesis defense is and how to prepare for it.

What Is A Thesis Defense?

Defending a thesis is presenting your research work to a professors’ panel to grade your presentation abilities. Also, your argument during the presentation ascertains that you understood your research topic. But, you must submit your thesis or dissertation first so that your lecturer can grade it before your defense presentation.

Most students want to know what defending thesis means after or when about to complete their graduate degrees. In most countries, writing a thesis is a vital part of finishing a graduate degree. Generally, a thesis or a dissertation is a significant paper related to the student’s study field. After handing in a thesis, the professor or lecturer assigns the learner the data for defending their work.

A thesis defense presentation occurs during a meeting comprising a committee of at least two professors and the student. The professors belong to the student’s program. Also, the session can include professionals from other learning institutions or experts in the student’s study field. The meeting attendees ask the students some questions about their work to understand their focus area and field.

Usually, these questions are open-minded, requiring the learner to think about the work critically. Since the student submits the paper for evaluation before the presentation, the panel already understands the work. But the board doesn’t design the questions to require the student to defend their work aggressively. In most cases, this procedure is a formality for getting a degree.

What Is The Purpose Of Dissertation Defense?

The thesis or dissertation defense aims to achieve two things.

First, it provides a presentation occasion and recognition of the accomplished doctoral work. Second, it presents a chance for formal evaluation and discussion of your thesis.

Ideally, the purpose of the dissertation defense is to assess the completed research work’s merits and the doctoral candidate’s ability to explain or interpret their research outcomes and implications. After the dissertation committee chair deems the paper ready for a defense, they allow the student to schedule their presentation meeting.

The student contacts the committee members to identify the time and date acceptable to them. Also, the learner secures the conference room for the presentation and serves all committee members with copies of the thesis.

What Does It Mean To Defend A Thesis Successfully?

The requirements of a dissertation defense process vary from one learning institution to another. However, a successful defense entails presenting the main argument to the dissertation committee or academic faculty with primary points evidence.

A good defense must have clear and convincing logic lending credence to the primary concept that the body of the paper advances. For instance, if your thesis argues that consuming meat is unethical, you may present arguments about animal abuse cruelty from farms and factories to make your claim legitimate.

How Long Is A Thesis Defense?

At this point, you’re no longer bothered by the question, what does it mean to defend your dissertation? However, you want to know your presentation or defense duration. The duration of a dissertation presentation or defense depends on the degree requirements and the institution.

Perhaps, the best way to know the duration your presentation should take is to consult your institution or department. But a dissertation defense takes 20 minutes in most cases, though it can take up to two or more hours. Also, the presentation duration and the number of questions the committee has for the candidate will influence this duration.

What’s more, the nature of your thesis will determine the duration of its defense. For instance, a master’s thesis takes longer to defend than a bachelor’s thesis. Nevertheless, your defense should fit the introduction, literature review, findings, and more time structuring the presentation. Therefore, take adequate time to prepare for the session. All in all, several factors, including your academic field and paper, determine the duration of the session.

How To Prepare For A Thesis Defense

Adequate preparation is among the best tips for ensuring a successful dissertation defense. Therefore, ensure that you understand the content of your thesis and the questions to expect from the dissertation panel. Also, ensure that you have a timetable showing the chronology of the presentation day.

The dissertation committee expects you to keep time because if you delay, you may have to wait for the next time the panel will allocate your defense. Additionally, make sure that you’ve handed in your thesis at least a month before the defense date.

How To Prepare For Thesis Defense In Six Steps

The end of a graduate degree might seem far away when starting. However, it comes up faster than most learners think. Perhaps, that’s because working on a thesis is a lot of work. What’s more, you have to master the content of your paper to ensure a successful defense. Additionally, decide the best way to present and defend your thesis. For instance, select the defense template, theme, and structure. After that, follow these steps from our best academic editing help and thesis writers to prepare a successful dissertation defense.

  • Anticipate and prepare to answer all questions: Read and understand its content after writing a thesis. Also, list down potential questions to expect from the dissertation committee. You can even look for academic experts to advise you on the possible focus area for the committee members. Use your questions to gather relevant information in readiness for the presentation.
  • Dress appropriately: A dissertation defense is a formal occasion comprising top-ranking members of your academic department. It’s like a passage rite for the graduate and the faculty that supported them. Although the university might not have specific dressing rules for this event, think about it with respect and dignity. Ideally, dress like you’re going for a job interview.
  • Seek assistance: You will be busy preparing for your defense several days before the event’s date. Therefore, entrusting some tasks to reliable people might help. For instance, you can delegate tasks like conference room preparation and presentation equipment setup to a trustworthy person.
  • Prepare a backup plan:  Thesis oral defense requires technological equipment. And technology can fail you. For instance, a PowerPoint presentation may not look as expected. It might even not work at all. Therefore, prepare a plan B by anticipating such eventualities. For example, you can have handouts ready, just in case technology fails.
  • Prepare for tough questions: Most students are scared about professors asking questions they can’t answer. Although you can anticipate some questions, you won’t know the exact things the panel will want to see from you. However, defending your thesis is not about answering every question correctly and perfectly. Therefore, understand that the board doesn’t expect you to know everything.
  • Learn to deal with your anxiety: It’s normal to be anxious or feel nervous when defending your thesis. However, prepare to minimize your stress. Also, understand that the committee will repeat questions if necessary. Most importantly, take time to process every question and respond confidently.

Follow these tips, and you will be ready for the defense when the day comes. But the essential thing is to master the content of your paper and anticipate questions that the committee might ask.

How To Start A Thesis Defense Presentation

Once you have everything ready for the presentation, follow these steps to start your dissertation defense presentation.

  • Welcome the audience: Start by welcoming and connecting with the audience. Don’t use information or inappropriate language. Instead, be natural and approachable to your audience. Also, thank your audience for attending your defense presentation.
  • Introduce yourself: Tell the audience your name and a brief description of your occupation and background.
  • Explain your reason for doing your thesis: Explain what prompted you to further connect with the audience. Ensure that your motives are professional, though they can be personal, denoting your closeness to the project.
  • Delve into your thesis: Start the actual defense presentation by explaining every part.

Practical Thesis Defense Tips: How To Do It

After starting defending your thesis, delve deeper into the oral presentation of your work using appropriate sound equipment and visual aids. Follow this format to present your dissertation.

Introduction: Explain why the study was necessary Literature review: Tell the committee about the findings of other scholars on your subject or topic. Research methodology: Explain the research methods you used in your study and why. Findings: Explain your research findings to the committee. Discussion: Discuss your findings and deductions. Implications, suggestions, limitations, and conclusions: Explain the impact of your study, setbacks, and findings. Also, suggest a path for future studies on the topic or subject. Answer questions: The committee members will ask you questions and expect you to respond. Leave the room: After presenting your defense and answering the committee’s questions, you can leave the room to allow the panelists to deliberate. Come back to the room: The committee will invite you back after the deliberations. The supervisor will share the committee’s decision with you.

The student receives all written work copies after the oral examination. Remember to observe dissertation defense etiquette even if the committee asks questions that deem unnecessary to you. Be polite, formal, and composed throughout the presentation.

Get Professional Thesis Writing Help

You can’t defend a thesis before writing it. However, you might lack adequate time to select a unique thesis topic, research it, and write a custom paper, and of course, buy dissertation online . That’s where our experts come in. We’re a professional team of academic writers helping learners write a quality thesis, defend them, and score the top marks. Our knowledgeable thesis specialists can also provide vital advice or guide you through the defense process.

If stuck with a dissertation or unsure about the defense process, our native writers can help you. We offer cheap and efficient academic writing services online 24/7. Contact us today!

How long is a thesis paper?

The length of your thesis will depend on your faculty, department, or study field. However, a bachelor’s thesis is usually 40 to 60 pages long. On the other hand, a master’s thesis ranges between 60 and 100 pages. A Ph.D. thesis has an average of 204 pages.

Nevertheless, the actual words for a Ph.D. thesis depend on the university and the subject. That’s because most learning institutions set the length requirements. Learning institutions set the minimum length and not the maximum word count or page number in most cases. Therefore, ask the supervisor about your paper’s length before learning how to defend your dissertation.

How long is a thesis defense?

The dissertation defense duration depends on the technicality of the paper and the degree that a student is pursuing. An undergraduate degree’s defense can last an hour, while a master’s degree defense can take one and a half hours. A Ph.D. degree defense can last two or more hours.

What happens during a thesis or dissertation defense?

The professors allocate the students time for their presentation or defense. After that, the panelists will ask questions, and the student will answer. The committee requests the student to summarize their study deductions in some cases

high school research paper topics

  • Graduate School

How to Prepare for a Thesis Defense

How to Prepare for a Thesis Defense

You’ve spent years on your studies to acquire your advanced degree, and whether a master’s thesis or doctorate, you need to know how to prepare for a thesis defense. Treat this as more of a siege than a defense, and be prepared to outlast any foe, any siege engine, any army at your gates.

You have already built up a great thesis, with instruction from professors, and maybe even the help of a great thesis writing service , and you are finally ready for your defense. What does that phase of your academic career look like?

In this article, we will give you the tools and tips to make it through. We will start with a preparation section, focusing on various aspects of how to study and what to study, then talk about the lead-up to the big day: preparing materials and handling anxiety. We’ll also touch on what to do on the day and how a thesis defense will, or could, go. At the end of it all, you will have a clear idea of how to approach the preparation for, and the defense of, your thesis.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 12 min read

Know your thesis.

We put this first knowing that it is the most important element of your entire presentation. The crux of your defense hinges on this. You must know your thesis, backwards and forwards. There must be nothing about it that you have forgotten. However miniscule the detail, and however insubstantial to your thesis that detail ultimately is, you must nevertheless know it.

When it comes time to question you, after presentation of your work, questions you cannot answer will strike you down. Knowledge is your shield.

Know the Big Picture: What Are You Trying to Prove?

While you will already be intimately familiar with your research, readings, and revisions of your opus, you should still allot yourself time prior to your defense in which to know crucial elements of your thesis front to back. This is your primary concern.

What are you trying to prove? This is your number one concern, and being able to state this clearly, and back up your efforts with sources and arguments, is the main point of your thesis defense.

So, start with the big picture. Know your main points and the crux of your arguments. You have one, main thrust with this thesis, and you have one, primary tentpole holding it up. No doubt you have more evidence than one primary source, but inevitably one will have more weight and potency than the others. Start there and work your way out.

Don’t memorize words to say, but memorize the web of arguments you have woven together to support your work. Your research was about X, and you have Y as a result, and now you share that and defend your assertions.

You can’t memorize the whole thesis – it will be large – but you can memorize a few, important points that support your main argument, and give credibility to your assertions. Again, you aren’t memorizing a speech to give, but you should know some of your more crucial statistics and datapoints so you can reference them easily.

Know Your Secondary Sources

It’s not just enough to know what your own thesis says, but you must be knowledgeable about its foundations. Your thesis is built on sources and materials that you have cited and referenced throughout. These deserve your attention as well.

If you are being questioned and, without a beat, you can cite chapter and verse on the proofs for your claims, this gives your own arguments depth and clarity. A successful thesis will add to the knowledge base of your field, but it must be built on the knowledge that came before. Knowing your secondary sources demonstrates your knowledge, shows how your thesis connects to that knowledge, and solidifies your arguments through the foundational assertions of prior experts.

Are you looking for grad school tips that will help you succeed in your application and once you get in? Watch this:

Sun Tzu Was Right

“Know your enemy,” wrote the philosopher and military commander Sun Tzu, “as you know yourself, and you will have victory in many battles.”

Your thesis makes a claim, adds to the body of knowledge in your field, and does so with evidence, research – not to mention panache – and is given its gravitas by the myriad of sources and proofs that you have to offer. Great, but don’t forget about those who disagree.

In most fields – certainly all the ones worth studying – anybody who makes a claim will have that claim challenged.

This is, perhaps, the most important step to preparing your defense: know why your detractors will say your thesis is wrong. If you can “steel man” – the opposite of “straw man” – their arguments, and phrase counter-arguments to your own statements – as well as anybody who holds those ideas would – then you have already, essentially, anticipated many, if not all, of the questions the examining board will put to you.

With that knowledge, you will also know to prepare defenses, explanations, and counter-arguments to each of these perceived complaints. Make sure that your counter-arguments would satisfy the majority of reasonable, educated persons in your field – if not any potential naysayers themselves.

Of course, having the main points, secondary points, data, references, detractions, and answers to those detractions all at your mind’s immediate beck and call would be wonderful; but, if you can manage to memorize all of that reliably within your head, don’t count on nothing but pure, rote learning to bring up all of this information. We recommend you keep quick reference notes to help you.

When you’re asked a question, having quick access to well-kept notes will serve you well. Notes themselves are nice, but you also need to be able to access them quickly. Any paradigm that works for you will do, but here is a sample schema for you to consider:

From a dollar store or office supply store \u2013 with reference numbers to bookmark key passages. These reference numbers will correspond to your table of contents. "}]">

Again, use any rubric you want, but pick a system and make sure it works for you. How do you know it works? By testing it.

A Baptism of Fire, and How to Avoid It

That term - “baptism of fire” – refers to being trained via a quick shove onto a battlefield. You might also think of mother and father bird shoving their younglings out of the nest, peeping encouragement at them to fly.

Don’t let this happen to you. Check your wings first.

Mock interviews are extremely useful for interview preparation. Arrange a mock thesis defense. Get professionals who know what they are doing to grill you on your thesis. A professional mock panel will simulate the time, let you run through your presentation, and put you through your paces by asking insightful, challenging questions; they might even ask questions you didn’t anticipate – in which case, lucky for you it was caught beforehand.

Or, not so lucky. Lucky is what happens to a soldier in a baptism of fire, but you’re not doing that. You’re preparing, training, and refining your methods to be bulletproof before anybody fires upon you at all.

A mock defense will simulate the real thing as close as possible, likely even giving you a taste of the nerves and letting you learn how to cope with anxiety. Plus, you can test your filing system for quick recall.

Before the Day - What to Get Ready

The most crucial elements to get ready are anything that you will directly need. That is to say that you should have access to your presentation itself, as well as your notes, and anything else that you’ll require for the defense. Everything else is secondary, and while it’s not a great idea to show up without combing your hair, at least you can still mount a defense with bedhead; you can’t defend your thesis without your critical notes.

With that said, definitely comb your hair. Presenting your thesis is about presenting yourself, as well, so put on some professional-casual clothes so you are comfortable and presentable.

Bring along anything else you need to be comfortable in the room, such as a water bottle or pencils and a notepad – anything you might want to help you succeed.

The exception: don’t overload so much that you are carrying multiple bags around with you.

Want to learn how to prepare for thesis defense questions? Check this infographic:

On the Day - Mental and Anxiety Control

The very nature of the activity of thesis defense means that you will be spending your presentation and your day on the defensive. This is, inherently, a stressful position to take, but a strong aggravating factor is the stakes of the event. This is a momentous occasion. You are at the proverbial moment of truth where you will either advance to the next, major phase of your career, or you will be forced to reconcile yourself to returning and revising – another revision and exploration and another defense.

Naturally, it follows that stress management is going to be one of the most important aspects of your day.

Prevention is the Best Cure

Give yourself an on-the-day boost by planning your studying and preparation well in advance. This will enable you to take a break before the actual day. If the day before your thesis defense can be one spent in contemplation, meditation, or relaxation, you’ll have a much better mental state for the defense itself.

Also of utmost importance: sleep. Maintaining a decent sleep schedule can be nigh-impossible, let alone sporadically getting in the actual recommended hours of sleep that your doctor really wants you to get. Nevertheless, make an extra effort to get a lot of rest, ideally within a sleep schedule, so that you are bright-eyed come defense time.

Long-term Stress Management

The rise of app culture is seen by some as the fall of civilization – particularly those spiritual or personal aspects of life. Tech is really just a tool, however, and finding a good meditation app can give you the right tech-based buddy system to keep you in good mental health. Meditation can be a great stress-management technique, and trying out some basic techniques will help you to stay alert, focused, and calm on your big day.

Physical Health IS Mental Health

How are you eating? Do you get out to exercise?

These are things that can easily fall by the wayside while pursuing higher academics. There is a reason that there is a cliched stereotype of undernourished, sleepless academics: it’s hard to absorb, retain, and study knowledge at this demanding level while maintaining a good balance with the more physical aspects of your life. Nonetheless, good physical health is strongly linked with good mental health, and you should pursue both.

Remember Step One...

Preventing panic is often a case of focus being unable to override insecurity. You’ve already taken care of your knowledge base: know your thesis. With that, you can keep insecurity at bay. Now for focus. What is the first thing you have to do when you get in the room? You’ll have some opening remarks, but even before that, you’ll likely want to quickly introduce yourself and welcome and thank your thesis screening panel. Forget everything else. Stop worrying about it, because you just have to do that first thing.

Concentrate on the Next Thing

After that, keeping yourself from getting distracted by insecurity is a question of focusing on whatever you must do next. You’ve made it through your introduction: great. What’s next? Since you’ve composed a careful set of notes, and carefully arranged those notes on your desk, table, or podium – or computing device – you can glance down and look to “point two” to carry you forward. Focus on doing your best job on that point. Once it’s over, focus on point three. Keep on in this way, and you have exorcised the twin demons of distraction and insecurity.

Fix Mistakes with No Fanfare

What if you misspeak? Just go back over it and fix the error quickly. “I’m sorry, I meant to say that 33% of the population favors blue above other colors, not 30 %. ”

Once you’ve fixed the error, move on. Dwelling on it does nothing at best, and exacerbates your problems at worst.

What if your PowerPoint presentation gums up? What if your computer freezes? What if the projector won’t project?

Remember that everybody in the room deals with glitches and tech errors, just like you, and do your best.

Don’t hide it – it's not hidden – but just briefly acknowledge the problem, “It seems the computer has frozen. Pardon me,” and see if you can fix it. If you can’t, rely on your notes to keep going. If you have infographics or charts and data that you wanted to highlight, offer to show those elements to the thesis screening panel, or to describe the data they need.

You’re being judged based on your logic, reasoning, rationales, recommendations, findings, data, and the effectiveness of your thesis. Nobody’s going to dock points from your presentation if there was a power failure.

Plus, if you’ve followed our advice thus far, you have redundant note systems with you, and you’ll be fine.

How to Stay Calm, Generally

Keep your breath under control. This ties in with meditation, to some extent, but controlled breath will keep your heart-rate down and your anxiety levels far more controlled than they would otherwise be. That is not to say that you won’t feel any anxiety, per se, just that – statistically speaking – you are far more likely to have far less anxiety.

Many people like to imagine a humorous image, particularly of their audience, to calm themselves down. This might work for you, but what this technique is getting at is a way to take your mind off of your anxieties and force it to focus on something else.

To do this, you needn’t go to the cliché of imagining anybody in underwear. Rather, just have a calming image or idea in your head that you can focus on. Pick something that makes you calm, or brings out a smile, and something that you can concentrate on to stop any panic moments and take away the snowball effect that happens whenever you dwell on something negative or that makes you anxious.

A Final Tip on Courtesy

Remember to be courteous, gracious, and polite. It really helps if you remember the names of the people on your thesis panel, so write those down if you have to.

What Does a Thesis Defense Look Like?

A thesis defense consists of a short presentation – about twenty or thirty minutes – on your thesis, followed by a discussion. That discussion is the actual defense of your thesis, as the thesis panel will be asking you questions and challenging you on your research, your conclusions, and your ideas.

The questioning period might take another twenty minutes or an hour, or even longer. There is no guaranteed time duration, so be prepared for a lengthy discussion and debate after your presentation.

Standard format would probably include the use of a PowerPoint-type accompaniment to your summation of your thesis. It is recommended that you provide more than just a lecture. If you want your panel to have anything like infographics, charts, or statistics, you need to provide it, either as part of a visual slideshow presentation, handout sheets, or both.

Common Types of Questions and How to Respond

Knowing what kind of thesis defense questions can come your way will be very advantageous for you because it will help you understand the kinds of answers you need to give.

Probing Questions

These feel your argument out a bit, just to test and see if you know your stuff, or if you’ve just memorized a very specific subset of data. These will seem almost unbearably easy if you have studied extensively while researching your thesis. If you haven’t, they will be painfully difficult. If you cannot answer these basic questions, you will seem as though you have crafted a thesis with blinders on, and it is unlikely you will survive further, deeper rounds of questioning.

Data Clarification

Maybe a chart didn’t go deep enough. Maybe somebody is curious if that statistic you gave was per capita or not. These clarification questions will just seek to clear up any misconceptions or blind spots in your presentation. This is why it’s important to know both your material and the secondary sources and citations you have made. If you understand all of this information thoroughly, you’ll be able to go deeper than any one chart and explain everything. This is also why it’s necessary to keep quick reference cards and tables of contents. If you blank on that per capita question, your index card won’t.

Opposing Viewpoint and Supporting Data

These questions will seek to challenge your ideas and stress your thesis by digging deep. They will present opposing views and find out whether or not you have considered alternate points of view. These are the most crucial questions to have excellent answers to, because these are the questions that directly challenge your work and are what you are “defending” your thesis from. We have already warned you to know your “enemy” as you know yourself. We stress this again here: have top-grade answers to cutting questions, or fail in your attempt.

Arm yourself with knowledge of your own thesis and an anticipation of what your detractors might, or do, say, and then practice, practice, practice.

At the end of a long period of vigorous study, get some rest, keep calm, and fire up a meditation app – or go for a walk.

In short: follow our advice, your common sense, and trust to your knowledge base and the research and readings you’ve done over the past years, and you’ll have a solid thesis defense.

Ideally you will dedicate several weeks to thesis preparation. Start about three to five weeks ahead of the defense and put aside some time every day to work on some aspect of your defense.

There isn’t really such a thing as too much prep. You could take too many notes and wind up with a very large, unwieldy reference binder, but even that is mitigated by your “table of contents.”

Err on the side of “too much” rather than “not enough.”

They’re probably just testing your knowledge of the material versus whether or not you just memorized a speech. Treat this as a probing question and answer in reference to your work. If this is an accident, don’t draw attention to it, and don’t get exasperated.

Say it’s outside of your field or area of study, but explain why you didn’t go there. So, if they ask about something peripheral, acknowledge that this isn’t part of what you’ve learned, why you are aware of it, and why you didn’t pursue further research into that area. Above all else, don’t fake knowledge you don’t have.

Numbers may vary, but three to five is fairly typical.

If you need a short break, to use the restroom, for instance, you can ask for one.

Have talking points and a firm knowledge of your facts and ideas, but don’t memorize set speeches. You can come off sounding robotic and impersonal. Worse, if you are asked a question and you find yourself getting lost, you might not remember details of your speech without the “ramp up” into any given part. Better to know the data, rather than the exact words.

In the event that you are not awarded your master or doctorate, you will most likely be given the chance to revise your thesis and try again. The committee will give you feedback, and you will revise accordingly.

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!

Apple Podcasts

Like our blog? Write for us ! >>

Have a question ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions, get started now.

Talk to one of our admissions experts

Our site uses cookies. By using our website, you agree with our cookie policy .

FREE Training Webinar:

How to make your grad school application stand out, (and avoid the top 5 mistakes that get most rejected).

Time Sensitive. Limited Spots Available:

We guarantee you'll get into grad school or you don't pay.

Swipe up to see a great offer!

defended a thesis

What is a thesis defense?

A thesis defense has two parts: a thesis and a defense. The second mistake many students make is not knowing what their thesis is. The third mistake is not knowing how to defend it. (The first mistake is described later.)

What is a thesis?

Your thesis is not your dissertation. Neither is it a one-liner about what you are doing. Your thesis is "a position or proposition that a person (as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and offers to maintain by argument." [Webster's 7th New Collegiate Dictionary] "I looked at how people play chess" is not a thesis; "people adapt memories of old games to play new games" is. A thesis has to claim something.

There are many kinds of claims. Most of the work around here is either design (you built an AI program or learning tool) or modelling (you have a theory of how something works). Such work usually supports one of the following kinds of claims:

where "X" is your model of memory, learning algorithm, authoring tool, learning environment, etc., and "Y" is a task or goal, such as understanding text, learning algebra, writing programs to teach algebra, etc.

Besides being a proposition, a thesis has to have another property: it must say something new . "Understanding natural language requires context" is not a thesis (except maybe in a linguistics department). "Algorithm X is a feasible mechanism for understanding anaphoric references in newspaper text" is. So is "context is not required for visual understanding."

What is a defense?

A defense presents evidence for a thesis. What kind of evidence is appropriate depends on what kind of thesis is being defended. There are very different defenses for each of the kinds of claims given above.

Thesis: X is a feasible way to do Y

One defense for this kind of claim is an analysis of the complexity, or completeness, or whatever, of the theoretical algorithm. In AI, the more common defense is based on empirical results from running a program. A good defense here means more than one example, and answers to questions such as the following. What are the capabilities and limits of your program? How often do the things that your program does come up in the real world? What's involved in extending it? If it's easy to extend, why haven't you? If your program is a piece of a larger system, how realistic are your assumptions about input and output?

Analogous questions arise in the design of learning environments. You should be able to argue that your environment can support learning in more than one specific arena, and what would be involved in implementing it elsewhere. You should be clear and specific about when it would not be a good approach.

Thesis: X is a better way to do Y

The same kind of defense applies here as in the previous case, but now serious comparisons with previous systems are required. In AI, can your program do the same examples the previous programs did, or can you make them do yours? Can you prove they couldn't do your examples? If you claim to be more efficient, what are you measuring?

In the learning sciences, what do you mean by "better" and how are you measuring it? Are you sure the other approaches wouldn't work just as well if they had you spending all that time on them?

Thesis: doing Y requires X

This is usually defended by a logical argument. It is usually very tough to do, even if the argument doesn't have to be formalized.

Thesis: people use X to do Y

Many students in AI make the mistake of picking a cognitive modelling thesis to defend, thinking that something that looks cognitively plausible is therefore OK. Defending a cognitive model requires serious experimental evidence. Selected excerpts from protocols and surveys of your officemates are not psychological evidence, no matter how much they might have inspired your work.

I have lots of theses in my dissertation. Which one should I pick for my defense?

Collecting enough evidence to really defend a thesis is hard. If you think you have a lot of theses, you probably just have a bunch of undefended claims. One good thesis, or two so-so theses, with adequate description and defense, is more than enough to fill up a dissertation.

I have the opposite problem. I don't think I have any thesis by these standards.

Highly unlikely. If you're bright, educated, and have worked hard on a topic for more than a year, you must have learned something no one else knew before.

The first mistake that AI students make is to think that a thesis has to be grander than the theory of relativity. A thesis should be new and interesting, but it doesn't have to change the foundations of all we believe and hold dear.

How do I pick my thesis to avoid these problems?

There's a mistaken view of thesis research that it starts with a thesis and then an investigation to prove or disprove the thesis. That only happens in fields that have matured to "filling in the blanks," and even then it only happens with advisors who like to stick to tried and true questions.

In young fields such as AI and the learning sciences, you'll never start with a claim. Very few of you will even get to start with a question! You start by exploring one or more problems in some task domain. You'll start with some initial ideas, naive or clever, and push them hard for a year or so. Then, you need to stop and think about what you've done and what you've learned. Among your accomplishments and experience, there will be several good candidate theses. Pick one. Test it out on your advisor and other faculty members. Test it out on other students. Watch out for the following flaws:

Once you refined your claim, now you can determine what kind of defense is appropriate for it and what more you need to do. This is where the psychologically hard part comes, because to create a defense for your thesis, you're going to have to attack it harder than anyone else. What happens if the thesis fails? Negate it and defend that! In a year or so of focussed research, you should be ready for a real thesis defense.

See how easy it is, once you know how?

/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="defended a thesis"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Defending your thesis or dissertation.

Certain special exams are required to earn an advanced degree in the research-based programs at Cornell. Often, these exams need to be taken with consideration of anticipated completion dates.  Enrollment in future semesters after the date a student passes their M or B exam is not permitted. See Taking Exams for more information.

All exam forms are available on our Forms  page.

Exams Required for M.A. and M.S. Degree Defense

If you are enrolled in an M.A. or M.S. degree program, you must pass the final examination for the master’s degree. You can take this after all degree requirements have been fulfilled, but no earlier than one month before completing the minimum number of enrolled semesters.

To pass the exam unconditionally and receive a degree, all regular, proxy, and field-appointed members of the examining committee must assent that the exam was passed unconditionally. If you are enrolled in an M.S./Ph.D. degree program where the M.A. or M.S. degree is a prerequisite for your Ph.D., you may petition your special committee to approve combining the final examination for the master’s degree with the examination for the admission to candidacy.

Exam forms required for the master’s degree include “Schedule Master’s Examination” and “Master’s Exam Results Form and Instructions.”

Exams Required for Ph.D. Degree Defense

The B exam is an oral defense of your thesis or dissertation. This exam can be taken after completing all degree requirements, but not earlier than one month before completing the minimum number of enrolled semesters. At least two semesters of successful registration must be completed between the passing of the A exam and the scheduling of the B exam.

Exam forms required for the Ph.D. degree include “Schedule A Examination and Research Compliance Form,” “Schedule B Examination,” “A Exam Results Form,” and “B Exam Results Form.”

The qualifying exam, or Q exam, is required in some fields for Ph.D. applicants. This exam helps the special committee determine your ability to pursue doctoral studies, continue in a program, and tailor an appropriate program of study.

ServiceScape

  • Translators
  • Graphic Designers
  • Editing Services
  • Academic Editing Services
  • Admissions Editing Services
  • Admissions Essay Editing Services
  • AI Content Editing Services
  • APA Style Editing Services
  • Application Essay Editing Services
  • Book Editing Services
  • Business Editing Services
  • Capstone Paper Editing Services
  • Children's Book Editing Services
  • College Application Editing Services
  • College Essay Editing Services
  • Copy Editing Services
  • Developmental Editing Services
  • Dissertation Editing Services
  • eBook Editing Services
  • English Editing Services
  • Horror Story Editing Services
  • Legal Editing Services
  • Line Editing Services
  • Manuscript Editing Services
  • MLA Style Editing Services
  • Novel Editing Services
  • Paper Editing Services
  • Personal Statement Editing Services
  • Research Paper Editing Services
  • Résumé Editing Services
  • Scientific Editing Services
  • Short Story Editing Services
  • Statement of Purpose Editing Services
  • Substantive Editing Services
  • Thesis Editing Services

Proofreading

  • Proofreading Services
  • Admissions Essay Proofreading Services
  • Children's Book Proofreading Services
  • Legal Proofreading Services
  • Novel Proofreading Services
  • Personal Statement Proofreading Services
  • Research Proposal Proofreading Services
  • Statement of Purpose Proofreading Services

Translation

  • Translation Services

Graphic Design

  • Graphic Design Services
  • Dungeons & Dragons Design Services
  • Sticker Design Services
  • Writing Services

Solve

Please enter the email address you used for your account. Your sign in information will be sent to your email address after it has been verified.

17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them

EditrixJD

A thesis defense gives you the chance to show off your thesis work and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study. During this one- to two-hour discussion with the members of your thesis committee, you'll have some control over how you present your research, but your committee will ask you some prodding questions to test your knowledge and preparedness. They will all have read your thesis beforehand, so their questions will relate to your study, topic, methods, data sample, and other aspects.

A good defense requires mastery of the thesis itself, so before you consider the questions you might face,

1. What is your topic, and why did you choose it?

Give a quick summary in just a few sentences on what you've researched. You could certainly go on for hours about your work, but make sure you prepare a way to give a very brief overview of your thesis. Then, give a quick background on your process for choosing this topic.

2. How does your topic contribute to the existing literature? How is it important?

Many researchers identify a need in the field and choose a topic to bridge the gaps that previous literature has failed to cover. For example, previous studies might not have included a certain population, region, or circumstance. Talk about how your thesis enhances the general understanding of the topic to extend the reach beyond what others have found, and then give examples of why the world needs that increased understanding. For instance, a thesis on romaine lettuce crops in desert climates might bring much-needed knowledge to a region that might not have been represented in previous work.

3. What are the key findings of your study?

When reporting your main results, make sure you have a handle on how detailed your committee wants you to be. Give yourself several options by preparing 1) a very general, quick summary of your findings that takes a minute or less, 2) a more detailed rundown of what your study revealed that is 3-5 minutes long, and 3) a 10- to 15-minute synopsis that delves into your results in detail. With each of these responses prepared, you can gauge which one is most appropriate in the moment, based on what your committee asks you and what has already been requested.

4. What type of background research did you do for your study?

Here you'll describe what you did while you were deciding what to study. This usually includes a literary review to determine what previous researchers have already introduced to the field. You also likely had to look into whether your study was going to be possible and what you would need in order to collect the needed data. Did you need info from databases that require permissions or fees?

5. What was your hypothesis, and how did you form it?

Describe the expected results you had for your study and whether your hypothesis came from previous research experience, long-held expectations, or cultural myths.

6. What limitations did you face when writing your text?

It's inevitable — researchers will face roadblocks or limiting factors during their work. This could be a limited population you had access to, like if you had a great method of surveying university students, but you didn't have a way to reach out to other people who weren't attending that school.

7. Why did you choose your particular method for your study?

Different research methods are more fitting to specific studies than others (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative ), and knowing this, you applied a method that would present your findings most effectively. What factors led you to choose your method?

8. Who formed the sample group of your study, and why did you choose this population?

Many factors go into the selection of a participant group. Perhaps you were motivated to survey women over 50 who experience burnout in the workplace. Did you take extra measures to target this population? Or perhaps you found a sample group that responded more readily to your request for participation, and after hitting dead ends for months, convenience is what shaped your study population. Make sure to present your reasoning in an honest but favorable way.

9. What obstacles or limitations did you encounter while working with your sample?

Outline the process of pursuing respondents for your study and the difficulties you faced in collecting enough quality data for your thesis. Perhaps the decisions you made took shape based on the participants you ended up interviewing.

10. Was there something specific you were expecting to find during your analysis?

Expectations are natural when you set out to explore a topic, especially one you've been dancing around throughout your academic career. This question can refer to your hypotheses , but it can also touch on your personal feelings and expectations about this topic. What did you believe you would find when you dove deeper into the subject? Was that what you actually found, or were you surprised by your results?

11. What did you learn from your study?

Your response to this question can include not only the basic findings of your work (if you haven't covered this already) but also some personal surprises you might have found that veered away from your expectations. Sometimes these details are not included in the thesis, so these details can add some spice to your defense.

12. What are the recommendations from your study?

With connection to the reasons you chose the topic, your results can address the problems your work is solving. Give specifics on how policymakers, professionals in the field, etc., can improve their service with the knowledge your thesis provides.

13. If given the chance, what would you do differently?

Your response to this one can include the limitations you encountered or dead ends you hit that wasted time and funding. Try not to dwell too long on the annoyances of your study, and consider an area of curiosity; for example, discuss an area that piqued your interest during your exploration that would have been exciting to pursue but didn't directly benefit your outlined study.

14. How did you relate your study to the existing theories in the literature?

Your paper likely ties your ideas into those of other researchers, so this could be an easy one to answer. Point out how similar your work is to some and how it contrasts other works of research; both contribute greatly to the overall body of research.

15. What is the future scope of this study?

This one is pretty easy, since most theses include recommendations for future research within the text. That means you already have this one covered, and since you read over your thesis before your defense, it's already fresh in your mind.

16. What do you plan to do professionally after you complete your study?

This is a question directed more to you and your future professional plans. This might align with the research you performed, and if so, you can direct your question back to your research, maybe mentioning the personal motivations you have for pursuing study of that subject.

17. Do you have any questions?

Although your thesis defense feels like an interrogation, and you're the one in the spotlight, it provides an ideal opportunity to gather input from your committee, if you want it. Possible questions you could ask are: What were your impressions when reading my thesis? Do you believe I missed any important steps or details when conducting my work? Where do you see this work going in the future?

Bonus tip: What if you get asked a question to which you don't know the answer? You can spend weeks preparing to defend your thesis, but you might still be caught off guard when you don't know exactly what's coming. You can be ready for this situation by preparing a general strategy. It's okay to admit that your thesis doesn't offer the answers to everything – your committee won't reasonably expect it to do so. What you can do to sound (and feel!) confident and knowledgeable is to refer to a work of literature you have encountered in your research and draw on that work to give an answer. For example, you could respond, "My thesis doesn't directly address your question, but my study of Dr. Leifsen's work provided some interesting insights on that subject…." By preparing a way to address curveball questions, you can maintain your cool and create the impression that you truly are an expert in your field.

After you're done answering the questions your committee presents to you, they will either approve your thesis or suggest changes you should make to your paper. Regardless of the outcome, your confidence in addressing the questions presented to you will communicate to your thesis committee members that you know your stuff. Preparation can ease a lot of anxiety surrounding this event, so use these possible questions to make sure you can present your thesis feeling relaxed, prepared, and confident.

Header image by Kasto .

Related Posts

Single-blind vs. Double-blind Peer Review

Single-blind vs. Double-blind Peer Review

The 7 Types of Academic Papers and Journal Articles

The 7 Types of Academic Papers and Journal Articles

  • Academic Writing Advice
  • All Blog Posts
  • Writing Advice
  • Admissions Writing Advice
  • Book Writing Advice
  • Short Story Advice
  • Employment Writing Advice
  • Business Writing Advice
  • Web Content Advice
  • Article Writing Advice
  • Magazine Writing Advice
  • Grammar Advice
  • Dialect Advice
  • Editing Advice
  • Freelance Advice
  • Legal Writing Advice
  • Poetry Advice
  • Graphic Design Advice
  • Logo Design Advice
  • Translation Advice
  • Blog Reviews
  • Short Story Award Winners
  • Scholarship Winners

Take your thesis to new heights with our expert editing

Take your thesis to new heights with our expert editing

  • Have your assignments done by seasoned writers. 24/7
  • Contact us:
  • +1 (213) 221-0069
  • [email protected]

Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

How To Prepare For Your Thesis Defense

How To Prepare For Your Thesis Defense

If you are conducting post-graduate research within your discipline, you will come across the phrase “thesis defense”. A thesis defense is part of the things you will need to accomplish before acquiring a postgraduate degree. 

The thesis defense comes at the end of the graduate program. It is used to determine or define your education milestone while in the university. For this, you need a thesis defense comprehensive guide to be outstanding.

defended a thesis

You should do a thesis defense after you have completed the course work and attended practicum or internship programs.

How Long does a Thesis Defense Take?

On average, a thesis defense takes somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. However, the time it takes to do a thesis defense depends on the academic level you are in. While there is no standard or general length for a thesis defense, post-graduate sessions will take longer compared to undergraduate sessions.

Yes, some institutions, professors, or some disciplines may require you to do a thesis defense at your undergraduate level. But the length of the presentation depends on your academic level.

What is thesis defense?

Defending your thesis

A thesis defense is an act of presenting your academic work to a panel or committee of professors and other involved scholars. From this, they can gauge or grade your abilities in presenting your work.

The arguments presented during the thesis defense are to ascertain that you have understood the course and your selected topic.

You will have to first hand in your work or paper to the professor for grading. Thereafter, you will be summoned for thesis defense.

When summoned for a thesis defense, you will be required to answer all the questions presented to you by the panel of professors. After this, you will be required to leave the room. The panel is to decide whether your paper or thesis is ready for publication. In addition, the panel checks whether your work needs corrections. 

In other words, a thesis defense is a forum that allows postgraduate students to defend the topic of their thesis before a panel of professors. Therefore, the thesis defense is part of the requirements that postgraduate students must accomplish to receive advanced degrees in whichever academic disciplines they pursue. 

Factors that Determine the Length of a Thesis Defense

Just like a dissertation that you have to write a thesis , it is important that you will have to present it. The time is taken to do this varies. The following four factors determine the length of a thesis defense

Determining the length of thesis defense

  • As noted earlier, the level of education will determine the length of your thesis defense.
  • The second factor is the institutional requirements. Some institutions will have a specified amount of time allocated for a thesis defense. In some institutions, that time is longer than and vice versa.

Very recognized institutions of higher learning will have the autonomy to decide on the length of a thesis defense.

  • The third factor that will determine the length of a thesis defense is the consensus of the panel of professors. Some will give students very limited time to do a thesis defense while others will give more time to their students.

Some institutions, scholars, applaud limiting the amount of time for thesis defense and educators because it gauges the student’s ability to accurately defend their work within a short time. If they succeed, then they are good learners.

  • Another factor determining the time of a thesis defense is the academic discipline that is explored by the topic.

While every academic discipline deserves respect, they are not the same in terms of the complexity of the concepts and what the student covers.

Some disciplines will require students to come up with much longer papers. This means that the time it could take to do a thesis defense will be longer. 

From the aforementioned factors, it is evident that it would be difficult to predetermine the standard length of a thesis without holding some parameters or factors constant such as the academic level of the thesis. 

Also, the length of your dissertation or thesis determines the time you will take to present it at your defense session. Longer documents will take you longer to defend.

How to Defend a Thesis – 5 Comprehensive Steps

Some steps can help you defend your thesis effectively. You should follow the steps below if you are summoned by a panel of professors to defend your thesis. 

1. Adequate Preparation

preparing for thesis defense

When you are required to defend your thesis, you will be given a specific date you will appear before the panel of professors for the actual exercise.

As long as you have submitted your paper to the professor for grading, you should always be aware that you will have to defend your thesis.

Therefore, between the period of submitting your paper and the date provided for thesis defense, you should do adequate preparation.

Students will have several months to prepare for a thesis defense. This is because the institutions themselves want their students to be well prepared before they meet the panel of professors.

After all, they would wish their students to excel in their studies. As noted, there will be a specified date for the thesis defense. Therefore, it will not surprise their committee members or students when the time comes for defending the thesis. 

Adequate preparation entails knowing or rather anticipating what is required of you. You should be prepared for the kinds of questions your thesis topic will provoke from the panel and practice on them.

When you have the right attitude and have adequately prepared for the thesis defense, it would be nearly impossible to fail. Also, be prepared to wear decently during the defense. 

2. Carry an in-depth knowledge of the thesis

This is a very important step when defending your thesis. Since you are the one who has written the paper, you should be fully aware of the topic and the contents of your paper. What this means is that you should adequately research the topic of your thesis so that you can be ready for any question you are asked by the panel of professors. For a postgraduate student who wishes to master their discipline, it would be a shame if you do not know about your topic.

For example, if you are within the field of environmental sciences and have written your paper based on the discipline, you should narrow down the scope of your knowledge to that of your topic, the topic of your paper should act as the guide to the amount of knowledge you are supposed to give for the sake of the thesis defense. Avoid too much knowledge because it may overwhelm you. At the same time, do not narrow down the scope of your topic too much because you will have limited knowledge during the thesis defense.

Your instructor or professor can help you in terms of giving you direction on the type and scope of knowledge you are required to have during a thesis defense. 

3. Prepare an Introduction

writing resources for thesis defense introduction

Have you ever heard of the first impression and its significance?

The first impression of a person will determine how the other person will perceive them.

If it is terrible, the other person may consider them a terrible person and even dislike them.

An introduction plays the same role as the “first impression” of your thesis defense to the panel of professors.

You should prepare a good introduction that should summarize the contents of your paper, the reasons why you selected the topic and its relevance to the discipline, and any other detail that you will anticipate to be asked during the thesis defense.

Make sure that the thesis is crystal clear and concise to avoid making any contradictions of your topic and confusing the panel.

Since you will be given several months to prepare for your thesis defense, take time to refine your introduction.

Make adjustments or corrections whenever necessary so that you will have a perfect introduction for your thesis defense. You may recite the introduction or carry it with you if the panel will allow it. 

4. Making the actual presentation

The action presentation of the thesis defense is quite scary to many students. This is because you will have to face a panel of professors to defend your paper. Based on your paper’s content, you will answer several questions. Therefore, if you fail during the actual presentation, your paper may not be published and you will have to do further revisions. 

During the actual presentation, you should be well dressed because grooming tells a lot about the character of a student. Carry the necessary equipment you will require during the presentation. Such equipment can include a laptop that contains a PowerPoint presentation, a pen, and a notebook. The PowerPoint presentation should be legible, objective, and strategically written to maximize the time used to defend your thesis. Ensure that you arrive early to the place where you will face the panel of professors to give you time to reflect and lessen your anxiety.  

As aforementioned, adequate preparation, understanding your topic or thesis, and a good attitude will guarantee success. Therefore, if you adhere to the aforementioned guidelines during the presentation, there is a high probability that your paper will be published. 

5. Do a good conclusion

Doing a good introduction and effectively presenting your defense is not enough without an equally good conclusion. Just like you took a good time to write your thesis , you will also need a good time to write a presentation and a good conclusion.

A good conclusion of your presentation leaves the panel of professors with a good impression of you and your overall ability to defend your work within the academic community. 

A good conclusion will sum up your work. What this means is that you should include a summary of the topic’s background, the literature review, the methodologies, the findings, and the discussions. Make sure that the conclusion compresses the details of your paper logically. It should be brief and straight to the point.

Finally, the conclusion of your thesis defense should clearly describe the limitations or setbacks encountered while you were conducting the study.

Even though you are trying to show that you are a good post-graduate student, it is important to be clear about the limitations. This will demonstrate your academic integrity and ability to conduct actual research in the field. 

Tips on how to do a good thesis defense

A good score

1. Anticipate the questions 

As aforementioned, you should anticipate the questions you may be asked by the panel and prepare for them.

The questions’ base is on your thesis. As such, you should go through your paper and list the possible questions.

At the same time, the academic expertise of the committee members determines the types of questions you may be asked.

Try to have an informed idea, based on your paper, on the areas to receive much focus. 

2. Dress for success

Do you remember that we have talked about first impressions? Well, your dress code and overall grooming will have a degree of impact on the outcomes of your presentation. Dress well. Mostly, you are required to dress in an official attire because you are going to do a presentation to a panel of academic experts. You should try as much as possible not to wear casual or provocative clothes. 

3. Delegate

To avoid being overwhelmed during the day of your presentation, you can delegate some of the less complicated activities to a trusted person or friend. The activities that you can delegate include setting up the equipment you will use for your presentation or distributing handouts to the panel. 

4. Create a backup plan

This especially involves the mode of presenting your defense. Since you will be using your laptop and a projector, they may fail during the presentation. It is therefore important to have a plan B. such can include having printed handouts. 

FAQs on Thesis Defense

Can you fail a thesis defense.

The answer to this question is yes. Though it is rare, it is possible to fail a thesis defense if you are not adequately prepared and you don’t know much about the topic. This would indicate that you haven’t understood the course or you did not write the paper. You hired someone to do it for you. 

How long is a Ph.D. thesis defense?

A Ph.D. thesis defense is about 2 hours long. However, it may differ from one country to the other.

How long is the master’s thesis presentation?

A master’s thesis is usually one-and-a-half hours long. It takes a lesser time compared to a Ph.D. thesis. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

Related posts

Chegg Plagiarism Checker

Chegg Plagiarism Checker

Chegg Plagiarism: Review of Chegg Plagiarism Checker and its Service

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Good Titles for Essays about yourself: 31 Personal Essay Topics

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay: Meaning and Topics Example

TOP DEGREES ONLINE

What Does it Mean to Defend a Thesis?

Email, RSS

Pin It

If you are in the process of researching or writing a thesis, you are probably aware that defending a thesis will be an integral component of completing the process. While you may be familiar with the phrase “defend your thesis,” this does not mean that you fully understand what this process will entail. Below you will find a brief summation of what a thesis is as well as what it means to successfully defend a thesis.

The Thesis-A Brief Overview

Although broadly defined, a thesis is basically a brief summary of a theory or idea that is submitted in the form of a textual document, such as an academic paper. While research papers and argumentative essays will typically contain a thesis statement, the term “thesis” generally refers to a longer document that is prepared by a graduate-level student. In these cases, the thesis can be a precursor to graduation. Yet another factor you can consider to gain clarity regarding what constitutes a thesis is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation. The thesis is typically the final aspect of attaining a master’s degree while individuals who complete a dissertation do so to obtain a doctoral degree.

Defending a Thesis-The Basics

Individuals who write a graduate-level thesis will almost always be required to defend a thesis. While the requirements for this process will typically vary from institution to institution, defending the thesis generally incorporates presenting your main argument to an academic faculty and supporting your primary points with clear, convincing logic that lends credence to the fundamental concepts being advanced within the body of the work. For example, if an individual completes a thesis arguing that meat consumption is unethical, she or he might present arguments pertaining to the cruel abuse animals are subjected to in farms or factories to legitimate the claim.

Getting It Right-Components To Success

In order to make the process of defending your thesis as successful as possible, the following components of the endeavor are often emphasized:

Presentation Skills

In order to successfully defend a thesis, you need to be able to present your arguments effectively. To accomplish this objective, you should practice and attain feedback regarding your presentation strengths and weaknesses. In many cases, a learning institution will offer free workshops designed to help students enhance their presentation skills. These workshops can provide you with feedback on things such as the overuse of filler words like “um.”

The Dry Run

To ensure that your presentation skills can be objectively analyzed and critiqued by others, it’s a good idea to do a dry run. By delivering your thesis to colleagues or trusted friends, you can obtain feedback that helps you improve upon your presentation abilities. To accomplish this objective, the dry run audience needs to be proficient in:

• offering feedback regarding the effectiveness and coherence of your presentation • asking questions you haven’t considered yet • asking you questions which you think an examining committee might ask • providing you with feedback regarding your presentation skills in terms of any ineffective physical or verbal behaviors you may be participating in • offering feedback regarding which aspects of the presentation were strong, coherent, convincing, or otherwise effective

Anticipating Questions

When you defend your thesis, examiners will ask questions based on the information you present. To ensure that you perform well during this portion of the presentation, it is important that you try to anticipate the types of questions that will be asked . For example, if you are defending a thesis regarding why meat consumption is unethical, an examiner might ask you whether the presence of humane factory farms delegitimate your primary arguments. By anticipating the questions that examiners are likely to ask, you gain the opportunity to formulate clear, articulate responses that will strengthen your presentation.

While there are several aspects of graduate-level learning that can facilitate personal growth and intellectual development, defending a thesis can be particularly effective in generating these outcomes. Now that you have a basic understanding of what defending a thesis involves and how to do it well, you can move forward with confidence in the completion of this academic project.

You may also like: Degrees of the 21st Century (Infographic)

Rankings of Online Degrees

  • Top 25 Online Bachelor’s Degrees With the Highest Percentage of Students Receiving Institutional Financial Aid
  • Top 10 Online Nursing Degree Programs (RN to BSN)
  • Top 10 Online Education Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Master’s in Education Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Marketing Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Business Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Psychology Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Best Online Computer Science Degree Programs
  • 5 Most Popular Online Degrees
  • 10 Inspiring Graduation Speech Quotes
  • 10 Outrageous Textbook Blunders
  • 25 Great Scholarships for Business Majors

Infographics We Like

  • Online Education and Your Career
  • The Evolution of the College Degree
  • How Apple and Google Are Disrupting Education and Changing the World
  • Degrees of the 21st Century

Degree Info

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Online Degrees

Scholarships by Degree

  • Search by Major
  • US Department of Education
  • NY Times Education
  • Huffington Post Education
  • E-Learning Queen
  • Honest College
  • Wired Campus
  • Education Lab
  • The Hill – Education
  • Assistive Technology
  • Experiencing E-Learning

Site Information

  • About Top Degrees Online

Return to top of page

Copyright © 2024 · Sample Child Theme on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in

Daniel Qi defended MS thesis defense - Oguri Research Group - Purdue University

Purdue University

Daniel Qi defended MS thesis defense

We use cookies to make your experience on this website better.

Accept Cookies

College of Sciences and Mathematics Homepage

  • Toggle Search
  • Find People

"Integrated Spatial and Social Network Analysis of Conflict Impacts on Food Production in Eastern Ukraine; A Geospatial Perspective"

Thesis Defense by Michael Agbozo

In the News

XAR: A Solid ETF To Capture Record High Defense Spending In 2024

Robert Wilson profile picture

  • SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF is a buy due to its solid performance, low expense ratio, and expected growth in the aerospace and defense industry.
  • XAR has the heaviest weights on undervalued Spirit AeroSystems and Huntington Ingalls Industries giving the fund a competitive advantage over PPA and ITA.
  • Aerospace and defense ETFs are likely to do well in 2024 given record high defense spending.

Military Plane

Jelena83/iStock via Getty Images

Investment Thesis

SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF ( NYSEARCA: XAR ) is a buy due to its solid performance, low expense ratio compared to peers, and expected growth of the aerospace and defense industry. A key downside to XAR and compared peer ETFs is their relatively low dividend yields. While Invesco’s Aerospace & Defense ETF ( PPA ) has shown slightly better historical long-term performance, XAR has a holding mix that can position the fund to take the lead looking forward.

Fund Overview and Compared ETFs

XAR is an ETF that seeks to track the Aerospace and Defense Select Industry Index. With its inception in 2011, the ETF has 32 holdings and almost $2B in AUM. Not surprisingly, the ETF has 100% weight on the aerospace and defense sector. Peer competitor ETFs used for comparison purposes in this article are iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF ( ITA ) and PPA. PPA follows the SPADE Defense Index while ITA tracks U.S. equities in the aerospace and defense sector. Due to these different objectives, the funds have distinct holdings differences I will cover later.

Performance, Expense Ratio, and Dividend Yield

XAR has a 10-year CAGR of 11.35%. This is notably ahead of ITA’s 9.91% 10-year CAGR, but below PPA’s at 12.41%. While XAR lags PPA, it has the lowest expense ratio of 0.35%, compared to ITA (0.40%) and PPA (0.58%).

Price Return Historically over 10 years

10-Year Price Return: XAR and Peer Competitors (Seeking Alpha)

Defense sector ETF investors are likely to be disappointed with the dividend yields for any of these three funds. XAR, for instance, has a mere 0.37% yield. Additionally, its 3-year dividend CAGR is -12.74%. This is roughly on par with ITA and PPA which both have negative dividend growth but slightly higher yields.

Expense Ratio, AUM, and Dividend Yield Comparison

Source: Seeking Alpha, 16 Dec 23

XAR’s Holdings and Its Competitive Advantage

XAR has 32 holdings with a composition that is significantly different from ITA and PPA. First, XAR’s top holding is Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. ( SPR ), while ITA and PPA have less than 1% weight on SPR. The second key difference is XAR’s notably lower weight on The Boeing Company ( BA ). Finally, XAR has a significantly higher weight on Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. ( HII ).

Top 10 Holdings for XAR and Competitor ETFs (Key Differences Bolded)

Source: Multiple, compiled by author on 16 Dec 23

Any ETF investor knows that a fund’s overall performance is directly tied to the strength of its individual holdings. XAR represents distinct qualities in its holdings that prime it for growth, potentially ahead of both ITA and PPA. I will cover three of them below.

XAR’s Top Holding of Spirit AeroSystems

The first strength of XAR is its top holding of SPR. On the surface, Spirit AeroSystems may seem like a risky bet to have as a top holding. SPR has a TTM gross profit margin of -2.43% and net income margin of -16.83%. Additionally, its return on total capital, return on total assets, and FCF margins are all in the red. However, it is currently quite undervalued with a forward price/sales ratio 58% below its industry average and forward EV/sales 34% below its industry average. This undervaluation is due to multiple factors including a 24.78% forward revenue growth. Additionally, the company has a new CEO, Patrick Shanahan , who is respected as the previous Deputy Secretary for Defense and long-time Boeing veteran. Therefore, SPR represents the first secret weapon for XAR pulling the lead looking forward.

Lower Weight on Boeing Co.

The second potential upside for XAR is a slightly lower weight on Boeing. While Boeing has recovered nicely from 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 along with multiple high-profile airplane orders, it appears significantly overvalued at the moment. BA has demonstrated a one-year price return of almost 44%. Its forward EV/EBITDA is 173 compared to an industry average of 11.5. Additionally, its Q3 2023 net income was negative $1.63B, the lowest in the past four quarters. Therefore, XAR might be well positioned to lead defense and aerospace ETFs by maintaining a lower weight on BA.

Heaviest Weight on Huntington Ingalls

The final potential ingredient to XAR’s future success is its weight on HII. HII has seen a 10-year total return of almost 200% and indicates several strong growth factors. The company saw 14.9% YoY gross profit growth last quarter and $1B in operations cash flow over the trailing twelve months. HII is also attractively valued with a forward P/E GAAP almost 20% below its industry average and forward price/sales 34% below its industry average. A final positive point for HII is its 2.05% dividend yield along with 10.7% 5-year growth rate. Therefore, I believe HII is the third component to propel XAR moving forward.

Valuation and Risks to Investors

XAR is currently trading at $133.21 at the time of this article. This puts the fund near the upper limit of its 52-week range ($106.68 to $135.77) and below its $136.44 all-time high in July 2021. XAR has seen a 21% price return YTD, notably ahead of its peers, ITA and PPA.

Year to date ETF price return

YTD Price Return for XAR, ITA, and PPA (Seeking Alpha)

Despite strong a strong YTD return, XAR still appears to be valued attractively compared to ITA and PPA. With a P/E ratio of 24.36, the fund is notably lower than ITA. Additionally, XAR has a P/B ratio below both compared funds. Finally, XAR has an estimated 3-5 year EPS growth of 6.37%.

Valuation Metrics for XAR and Peer Competitors

Source: Compiled by Author from Multiple Sources, 16 Dec 23

Whether XAR will outperform is dependent on the future performance of its holdings. The fund has multiple potential advantages compared to ITA and PPA, including its different holding weights on SPR, BA, and HII. Based on these holding differences, I expect XAR to blow through its all-time high and exceed returns for ITA and PPA going into 2024.

Investment in XAR or any aerospace and defense ETF is not without risks. The most immediate risk is defense spending cuts. However, this risk appears minimal for the time being given congressional passage of the National Defense Authorization Act which calls for $886 billion for the Defense Department next year. While the legislation still requires presidential approval, all indicators point towards record spending for the Department of Defense. Additionally, given strategic competition with China and numerous international threats, I would be surprised to see any significant decline in U.S. defense spending.

Concluding Summary

XAR warrants a buy due to strong expected defense spending heading into 2024 and beyond. While competitor fund PPA has demonstrated strong performance historically, XAR has a mix of holdings that will posture it for strong growth, potentially surpassing PPA heading into next year. Specifically, XAR has the heaviest weights on Spirit AeroSystems and Huntington Ingalls while holding the lowest weight on Boeing Company. Additionally, XAR has the lowest expense ratio of funds compared. While XAR has the lowest dividend yield compared to ITA and PPA, none of the aerospace and defense funds examined have significant dividend yields. Given the expected funding for the Defense Department heading into 2024, and likely beyond, any investment into aerospace and defense ETFs will provide solid returns. However, I believe that XAR has the right ingredients to propel the fund ahead of its peers.

This article was written by

Robert Wilson profile picture

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of BA either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

Recommended For You

About xar etf, more on xar, related stocks, trending analysis, trending news.

defended a thesis

IMAGES

  1. Thesis Defense: Everything To Know About Defending A Thesis

    defended a thesis

  2. How To Defend Thesis?

    defended a thesis

  3. The Ultimate Guide to Delivering an Outstanding Dissertation Defense

    defended a thesis

  4. 磊 Last but not least: Your thesis defense

    defended a thesis

  5. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense [6 tips]

    defended a thesis

  6. how to make thesis defense presentation

    defended a thesis

VIDEO

  1. THESIS DEFENDED 2023

  2. thesis finally defended time to get navia [genshin impact}

  3. The reason why I am against Academic writing services

COMMENTS

  1. What Is A Thesis Defense?

    Defending a thesis largely serves as a formality because the paper will already have been evaluated. During a defense, a student will be asked questions by members of the thesis committee. Questions are usually open-ended and require that the student think critically about his or her work.

  2. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

    What is a thesis defense? How long is a thesis defense? What happens at a thesis defense? Your presentation Questions from the committee 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense 1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them 2. Dress for success 3. Ask for help, as needed 4. Have a backup plan 5.

  3. Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

    Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide March 29, 2022 Written by Luke Wink-Moran | Photo by insta_photos Dissertation defenses are daunting, and no wonder; it's not a "dissertation discussion," or a "dissertation dialogue." The name alone implies that the dissertation you've spent the last x number of years working on is subject to attack.

  4. Preparing For A Viva Voce (Dissertation Defence)

    If you need assistance preparing for your dissertation defense or viva voce, get in touch with us to discuss 1-on-1 coaching. We can critically review your research and identify potential issues and responses, as well as undertake a mock oral defense to prepare you for the pressures and stresses on the day.

  5. PDF Guidelines for the Conduct of a Thesis Defense

    A thesis defense is an oral presentation and discussion of a thesis study. The purpose is to share the results of the study and to demonstrate to the committee and the academic community that the author has done work of sufficient quality to receive the master's degree and is able to speak to it in an open forum.

  6. How to Effectively Prepare for Your Thesis Defense

    A thesis defense is an opportunity for you to present your research study before other academic professionals who will evaluate the quality of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes feel like a cross-examination in a court of law, in reality, there is no need to fear your thesis defense as long as you are well-prepared.

  7. Defending Your Thesis

    Defending Your Thesis - Dissertation Defense Tips Find Graduate Programs Do you know what to wear to a dissertation defense meeting? Are you prepared to defend a thesis paper? Read our dissertation defense tips below! What does it mean to write a thesis?

  8. Mastering Your Thesis Defense: An In-depth Guide

    The thesis defense is the concluding oral examination that officially rounds off the process of submitting your thesis. Option 1: Defending Your Academic Work (Disputation) As the term suggests, you must defend your academic work before an audience composed of a committee and a select group of guests.

  9. Thesis Defense ~ A Guide To Prepare Best

    Definition: Thesis Defense A thesis defense is an act of presenting your work to a panel of professors so they can grade your presentation abilities. In retrospect, the argument is essential to ascertain that you understood the topic. You have to hand in your paper first so that the lecturer can grade it before you appear for the defense.

  10. Mastering Your Ph.D.: Defending Your Thesis With Flair

    A thesis defense is a cross between an exam and a ceremony. As with all ceremonies, rules must be followed, such as standing when the examiners enter the room and not addressing the examiners by their first names. Such rules are taken more seriously at some institutions than at others, but it's always a good idea to learn and observe them.

  11. 13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense

    Dissertation defense or Thesis defense is an opportunity to defend your research study amidst the academic professionals who will evaluate of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes be like a cross-examination session, but in reality you need not fear the thesis defense process and be well prepared.

  12. How to Defend a Thesis: An Introduction to the PhD Viva

    Make amendments to the thesis as necessary. Optional celebration. Have the thesis amendments approved by the examiners and/or your supervisor and confirmation sent to the university. Upload the final copy of your thesis to the university. Eagerly await notification that you've been awarded a PhD by the university!

  13. Thesis Defense: Everything To Know About Defending A Thesis

    Defending a thesis is presenting your research work to a professors' panel to grade your presentation abilities. Also, your argument during the presentation ascertains that you understood your research topic. But, you must submit your thesis or dissertation first so that your lecturer can grade it before your defense presentation.

  14. How do I defend my research?

    Answer: It is not clear what you mean by "defend research.". It could mean either defending your thesis (during the thesis defense) or defending or justifying your research in a research paper. If you mean defending your thesis, here are some broad strategies you can employ: Know your thesis very well. As you have spent considerable time ...

  15. How to Prepare for a Thesis Defense

    Give yourself an on-the-day boost by planning your studying and preparation well in advance. This will enable you to take a break before the actual day. If the day before your thesis defense can be one spent in contemplation, meditation, or relaxation, you'll have a much better mental state for the defense itself.

  16. What is a thesis defense

    What kind of evidence is appropriate depends on what kind of thesis is being defended. There are very different defenses for each of the kinds of claims given above. Thesis: X is a feasible way to do Y One defense for this kind of claim is an analysis of the complexity, or completeness, or whatever, of the theoretical algorithm.

  17. Defending Your Thesis or Dissertation : Graduate School

    Exams Required for Ph.D. Degree Defense. The B exam is an oral defense of your thesis or dissertation. This exam can be taken after completing all degree requirements, but not earlier than one month before completing the minimum number of enrolled semesters. At least two semesters of successful registration must be completed between the passing ...

  18. 17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them

    1. What is your topic, and why did you choose it? Give a quick summary in just a few sentences on what you've researched. You could certainly go on for hours about your work, but make sure you prepare a way to give a very brief overview of your thesis. Then, give a quick background on your process for choosing this topic. 2.

  19. Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

    What is thesis defense? A thesis defense is an act of presenting your academic work to a panel or committee of professors and other involved scholars. From this, they can gauge or grade your abilities in presenting your work.

  20. What is a thesis defense?

    A thesis defense has two parts: a thesis and a defense. many students make is not knowing what their thesis is. The third mistake (The first mistake is describe later.) What is a thesis? Your thesis is not your dissertation. you are doing. Your thesis is "a position or proposition that a person

  21. PDF Defend an interesting thesis

    • The thesis advances the discourse on the relevant topic (in a specific, perhaps minute way). • The thesis is original. This does NOT mean that your thesis needs to offer an entirely new approach to a given topic or a never before defended answer to a given question. • Examples of an original thesis include: a.

  22. How to oppose and defend a master thesis

    This film shows you what to focus on when opposing or defending a thesis. Through one good and one bad example the difference between failure and success is ...

  23. What Does it Mean to Defend a Thesis?

    Follow If you are in the process of researching or writing a thesis, you are probably aware that defending a thesis will be an integral component of completing the process. While you may be familiar with the phrase "defend your thesis," this does not mean that you fully understand what this process will entail.

  24. Daniel Qi defended MS thesis defense

    Daniel Qi defended MS thesis defense. Author: Kenshiro Oguri. Event Date: November 28, 2023. M.S. student Daniel Qi successfully defended his M.S. thesis in November 2023! Congratulations Dan! His thesis title is "Autonomous Guidance and Navigation for Rendezvous under Uncertainty in Cislunar Space," which can be accessed here. Upcoming Events.

  25. Geosciences Thesis Defense

    Geosciences Thesis Defense - Michael Agbozo. Time: Jan 08, 2024 (10:00 AM) Location: Zoom. Details: "Integrated Spatial and Social Network Analysis of Conflict Impacts on Food Production in Eastern Ukraine; A Geospatial Perspective". Thesis Defense by Michael Agbozo.

  26. XAR: A Solid ETF To Capture Record High Defense Spending In 2024

    XAR is currently trading at $133.21 at the time of this article. This puts the fund near the upper limit of its 52-week range ($106.68 to $135.77) and below its $136.44 all-time high in July 2021 ...

  27. Pencilbite Studio ️ on Instagram: "Attention all artists at Penn

    32 likes, 0 comments - pencilbitestudio on December 29, 2023: "Attention all artists at Penn! Pencilbite Studio is looking for members again. Our applications a..."