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Programs Is it comman for people to Fail their PhD Presentation?

  1. Mar 28, 2009 #1
    You know when you are disputing (i think is the word) infront of people and another doctor is grilling you on your research.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2009 #2


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    Defending, not disputing. No, it's not very common for people to fail this, at least in physics. Most of my profs have a story about someone it happened to, but usually only one story. Your adviser should not let you attempt to defend if they think you might not pass it. It's not their job to make you do your work, but it should be their job to decide if you're done or not. I've seen people fail masters defenses for not knowing enough background on the subject to answer questions on it, but I've never seen someone fail a PhD defense. Usually it's at least 4 professors grilling you, not just one.
  4. Mar 28, 2009 #3


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    Science Advisor
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    While it's not absolutely unheard of, it is rare to fail a defence. There are many check points that the student has to get through to reach the defence. These can include:
    - getting into a graduate program in the first place
    - numerous committee meetings
    - candidacy examination
    - comprehensive examination
    - publishing original research (which ends up as chapters in the thesis)
    - supervisor approval of the thesis

    After all that, a thesis committee has more options than pass/fail. For example, they can recommend a conditional pass, or perhaps an additional period of time in which the candidate will perform remedial work and then re-examine.
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