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Thesis Defense Delayed : (

  1. May 4, 2017 #1
    Well, I'm bummed!

    Masters in Computer Science student here...At the start of this semester, I was about 99% sure I was going to graduate this semester. The thesis/project that I did/am doing is a mobile app including some testing/benchmarks, but I also did a ton of research/lit review, implementation sections, technical sections, etc. It's definitely been the hardest and most stressful work I've done academically...And, right at the last minute, my thesis chair wanted me to add a section that would have been impossible to include in the remaining time. He mentioned this section at the beginning of the semester but didn't mention it again, even though I submitted many drafts to him.

    What makes it worse is that I've seen many people with much poorer theses who still got to graduate, and it's just because their advisor either overlooked it or didn't care.

    But anyway, I was hoping to hit the job market pretty strong with my shiny new degree. My internship experience is a bit lacking, and my confidence definitely took a hit. I just wanted to see if anyone had any advice. Still have to tell the folks...Sigh. Also, what should I tell potential employers if they ask about my degree?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's just delayed right? Do you now have the direction you need to complete it? Have you asked the right questions and gotten the right answers?
  4. May 4, 2017 #3
    Yes, delayed.

    To be honest, my chair is not a native English speaker and it can sometimes be hard to understand him. The explanation that he gave wasn't clear. I will need to visit with him many more times to make sure I know exactly what he wants.
  5. May 4, 2017 #4


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    While it is never nice to see people with theses you consider weaker getting through, I should tell you that I've never seen a thesis defense end in rejection. That is because the job of the chair is to not allow the defense to be held unless the chair is sure you will pass. Now, this doesn't mean anything is wrong with your work, it could be as simple as your chair doesn't think your project has the appropriate scope for the degree until you add this section.

    I know it feels like a major setback now, but I promise in the long run it won't matter at all. I changed graduate schools after my first year, losing a year, and I thought it was the end of the world. Now it is just a small speed bump in my career. So, my advice is to add what the advisor wants, and don't let it hurt your confidence because it is most likely not a reflection on the quality of your work.

    If there is a delay between when you file your thesis and when you defend it you can look for work in between. Just tell the employers when you expect to defend the thesis and get your degree. They see it all the time. I wrote my thesis while I was working and my employer didn't care I didn't physically have my degree when I started work.
  6. May 5, 2017 #5
    I recommend submitting an outline for approval. Get the approval for the outline in writing.

    Never assume that silence or positive verbal feedback is approval.
  7. May 5, 2017 #6


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    Tell them that it's in progress. With PhD candidates, some places will use the term "ABD" - all but dissertation - meaning the work has been done, you're just in that administrative downtime either preparing or waiting to defend your thesis. I'm not recommending you necessarily use that term, but I agree with Analogdesign, its fairly common for employers to see resumes from students who have yet to finish, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  8. May 5, 2017 #7
    An issue can arise, however, if your dissertation drags out too long. In industry, for example, slots are often approved for a specific fiscal year, and it's a matter of fill the slot, or lose it. So, if you have a job offer in hand, but the end of the fiscal year is approaching, and you still haven't completed your dissertation, they may rescind your offer. The same holds if the program has a deadline, and they need staff on board by X date, and can't wait any longer. So try to get as realistic an estimate as you can of how much more time you need for completion.
  9. Jul 19, 2017 #8
    Hello, just thought I'd bump this thread...Anyway, my thesis was finally given the "go ahead" a few days ago by my chair. Putting together my powerpoint slides and am trying to get ready for a defense in about a week. I'll probably be pretty nervous for it.
  10. Jul 19, 2017 #9


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    Thanks for the update.

    One way to look at this positively is that now your supervisory committee (or at least the chair) is confident with you proceeding. And you should be able to rely on their experience to know whether you're ready.

    Take your time and put together the best talk that you can (remember that's the part of the defence that you have the most control over). Try to anticipate some of the more obvious questions that might arise, and practice answering them. Practice explaining the core concepts that your thesis draws on. Don't be afraid to say that you don't know something. And you should do just fine.
  11. Aug 2, 2017 #10
    I'm happy to say I'm currently untying my tie, and winding down at home...I passed.

    The presentation could not have gone better.
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