Dissertation Defense Update

April 24, 2020

To: Graduate Program Directors, Graduate program staff, and graduate students

From: Barbara Krauthamer, Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School

Re: Continuation of dissertation defenses via videoconferencing.

The Graduate School’s policy requiring that dissertation defenses be held in-person and on campus was initially suspended through May 7, 2020 as part of the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The suspension of this requirement remains firmly in place until further notice, and most likely beyond May 7th.  This is consistent with both University and state directives during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Programs must continue to conduct dissertation defenses via videoconferencing.

  • Prior to the defense, the student should ensure that the dissertation committee has received the complete dissertation along with any other materials that will be presented in the defense.
  • The entire committee and student must be able to hear each other during the defense.
  • Programs and students must continue to submit all required forms via email to the Graduate School


I understand that the dissertation defense marks an important milestone for both students and faculty and that videoconferencing necessarily changes this familiar ritual.  Programs may make access to the videoconference available to the university community, as well as to the student’s family and friends.  Everyone is strongly encouraged to implement the safety and security measures recommended by UMass IT to minimize the potential for unwanted disruptions during a videoconference.

After May 8, 2020, the Graduate School will return to the standard timeline and deadlines for submitting the required forms for degree eligibility and completion. All other Graduate School policies and procedures for degree completion remain in place and unchanged.

Please contact gradrec@grad.umass.edu if you have any questions.  The Graduate School staff are working hard to respond to your messages, please be patient and understanding.