Thesis Defense Rules

Thesis Defense Rules

Colorado School of Mines Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) requires all thesis-based students to follow the Thesis Defense Rules. Students who do not follow the rules may put themselves in jeopardy of receiving a failing vote at the defense.

Please read and follow all the following steps to ensure you:

  • Have completed all the steps necessary to defend,
  • Understand all the defense rules
    • Have all your members in attendance
    • Avoid failing votes
  • Understand the upload and formatting rules
  • Graduate on time

Required Forms/Apply to Graduate: Must be Completed Prior to Defending

All thesis-based students must submit the required forms before applying to graduate and defend.

Thesis Committee and Advisor Assignment Request form: Required for all thesis-based students (commonly referred to as the Advisor/Committee form)

  • Students must submit an advisor/committee form to the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) and have the committee approved.
    • Master’s student should establish a committee and submit the form by the end of the second semester of study.
    • PHDs should establish a committee and submit the form by the end of the second year of study.
  • Students who make changes to an OGS approved committee must submit another form and have the changes approved by OGS. It is NOT ACCEPTABLE to receive departmental approval only or to state that you have changed your committee. Your committee may only be changed if OGS approves it.
  • Students who change a committee, but do not receive OGS approval will receive a failing vote(s) for every OGS approved member not in attendance at the defense.
    • Two failing votes means that the student has failed the defense, so it is imperative that students get any committee changes approved by OGS.   

Degree Audit Form: Required for all students

Master’s students: you must submit a Degree Audit form to OGS before applying to graduate in Trailhead and you must apply to graduate before defending.

PhDs must submit a Degree Audit form either before submitting the Admission to Candidacy form or with the form.

  • All forms may take up to two weeks to process
  • Students will receive an email once the form has been processed.
    • Students who do receive an email should check with your department to see if the form has been returned due to inaccuracies. If you miss a deadline because you completed the form wrong,  then you missed the deadline and OGS cannot guarantee that we will be able to process your form in time to meet a deadline.
    • Make sure to view the deadlines to ensure you submit your forms in time.

Admission to Candidacy Form: Required for all PhDs

  • All PhDs must complete the departmental requirements to be admitted into candidacy.
    • Each department has different requirements, so please consult with your department for details.
  • After this form has been processed, PhDs my apply to graduate in Trailhead.

Apply to Graduate in Trailhead: Required for all students

After all forms are submitted, all students must apply to graduate in Trailhead. Failure to apply to graduate by the deadline will delay your graduation.

Thesis Defense Form

All thesis-based students must bring the Thesis Defense form to the defense and have it signed by all committee members and the department head/division director.

Where can the form be found?  After students have applied to graduate in Trailhead, they will be enrolled in a CANVAS Graduation Check-Out course. The first quiz of that course goes over:

  • deadlines
  • registration requirements
  • the Thesis Defense Rules and
  • the Thesis Formatting

At the end of the first quiz, you will be given a link to the Thesis Defense form. So, it is important to complete the first quiz before you defend. If you are not sure that you will be able to meet the deadlines to graduate, you may want to wait to complete any of the check-out quizzes. In the event that your graduation needs to be moved to the next semester, then we will have to enroll you in a new check-out course and any quizzes completed under the old graduation term will need to be repeated. 

Since students must be enrolled in the  CANVAS Graduation Check-Out course, under no circumstances should students share the link with any other students, faculty or staff. Students who access the link inappropriately could jeopardize their graduation term.

Students will be enrolled in the CANVAS Graduation Check-Out course at certain times of the year.

  • December graduates will be enrolled early August through mid-September
  • May graduates will be enrolled early December through late January
  • August graduates will be enrolled in late April

If you have applied to graduate, but have not been enrolled yet, please refer to the time frames above.

Schedule Your Defense

  • Students must schedule the defense through the department.
    • Please consult with your department to determine how far in advance you need to schedule the defense.
  • OGS recommends that you defend at least 1 week prior to the upload deadline to ensure time for content revisions, but if your department/ committee tells you that you need to defend more than 1 week before the upload deadline, then you must follow those guidelines.
  • Failure to schedule a defense in time and/or to get all content revisions approved in time could result in a graduation delay, which could mean registering for an additional semester.

What to do if all Members Cannot Attend the Defense in Person

You must defend to all OGS approved committee members at one time. Remember, if you have changed a committee, it must be approved by OGS. No other means of approval are acceptable.

If an OGS approved member cannot attend the defense in person, you have a few options. The member who cannot attend may:

  1. Attend the defense virtually (Skype, etc.)
  2. Select a proxy to vote on his/her behalf
    • Member who cannot attend may select a proxy to ask questions and vote for him/her. It is the members responsibility to find a proxy, based on this information.
      • Proxy for advisor: Advisor must attend the defense, so no proxy may be selected.
      • Proxy for co-advisor: Proxy should be advisor. If advisor cannot be the proxy, then the chair.
      • Proxy for committee member:  Proxy should be committee chair
      • Proxy for PhD committee chair: Proxy must be outside of student’s home department.
        • If the PhD has more than the required members and one of the  extra members is outside the department, then that member could be the proxy.
        • If there are not extra members and/or the extra members are not outside the department, then the committee chair may select another faculty member meeting the requirements of a PhD committee chair and have that faculty member act as the proxy.
      • Proxy for Minor representative: Proxy should be committee chair.
    • Member who cannot attend will create a list of questions and give to the proxy prior to the defense
    • Proxy will ask the questions on behalf of the member and vote on behalf of the member
  3. Change the committee
    • OGS recommends that changing a committee only be used as a last resort just prior to defending and only be used if the member cannot attend virtually or get a proxy.
    • If this is the only option, the change must be approved by OGS prior to the defense.
      • Failure to get the change approved by OGS prior to the defense could result in a failing vote.

Defense Rules

Students must defend to the entire OGS approved committee at one time. Students may not defend to one group or individual at one time, then another group or individual at another time.  If a member cannot attend the defense, please go to the section “What To Do If a Member Cannot Attend The Defense”.

Members will vote to either:

  1. Pass the student’s defense
  2. Fail the student’s defense
    • Two failing votes means that the student has failed the defense. Remember, for every OGS approved committee member not in attendance at the defense (in person, virtually or via proxy), the student will receive a failing vote.  
    • Students who fail a defense once, may re-defend. Students who need to re-defend need to work with their department and committee.
      • Students who fail a defense twice will be subject to mandatory dismissal
      • Departments that need to dismiss students for failing to successfully defend the thesis after two attempts must notify OGS.
  3. Abstain
    • Abstain votes indicate that a member in attendance at the defense does not want to pass or fail the student.
    • Members not in attendance at the defense MAY NOT cast an Abstaining vote. If a member does not attend and has not followed the rules on what to do if a member cannot attend the defense, then the student will receive a failing vote.

Upload Rules

To graduate in a particular semester, students must upload the content approved thesis in ProQuest by no later than the designated upload deadline.

To meet the upload deadline, students must:

  • Complete the CANVAS Graduation Check-Out course by the deadline 
    • After students have applied to graduate in Trailhead, they will be enrolled in this course. Please see the tab ” Required Forms/Apply to Graduate” for information on the time frame for each graduation term when students will be enrolled.   
  • Submit the signed Thesis Defense form by the deadline 
  • The link for the form can be found in the 1st module of the  CANVAS Graduation Check-Out course
    • The student’s signature on the form indicates that the student understands the Thesis Defense Rules and the Thesis Formatting Rules.
    • The committee’s signatures indicate that the student has:
      • completed all credits for the degree,
      • if the student has used any regulated materials that all materials have been disposed of properly,
      • the research for the thesis has been completed,
      • the student has passed the defense (may have 1 failing vote) and
      • all content revisions are complete.
      • If any of the above items don’t apply, then the form should not be signed.    
  • Upload the content approved thesis in ProQuest and submit it by the deadline.

If the student does not complete all of these items by the deadline, then the student has missed the deadline and will have to delay graduation, which could mean registering for an additional semester.

Thesis Formatting Rules

All thesis-based students are required to follow the Mines thesis formatting rules, which can be found on our Thesis Writer’s Guide page. Templates in both Latex and Word are available there, along with details of the thesis preparation, upload and revision process.


Office of Graduate Studies

Alderson 451