PhD and DME—Dissertation Writing and Defense
You should submit an application for graduation no later than the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate. Click here for dates and information.
PhD students need to work directly with the University Graduate School on some steps of this process. You are responsible for following University Graduate School requirements.
Step 1: Approval of topic proposal
Step 2: Research and write dissertation
Step 3: Research director approval
Step 4: Research committee approval
Step 5: Scheduling of defense
Step 6: The defense is held
Step 7: Final submission
The Writing Stage
The topic proposal must be approved prior to starting work on the dissertation. For music education majors, topic approval is required before the major field written exam can be scheduled. Musicology and music theory majors may have have their topic approved at any time.
Review this detailed information on the topic proposal.
At the outset of your study, discuss the working relationship with your research director. This might involve regular meetings or phone calls, an agreement on how often you will send updates, and so on. Ordinarily, only the research director is closely involved during the writing stage. Other committee members typically wait until the research director has approved the dissertation before reading it, but you should ask them how they would like to be involved in the writing stage.
You should ensure that the prose is edited for correct grammar, usage, and style before submitting drafts to your research director. While research directors can be expected to make editorial suggestions, correct occasional typographical errors, and so on, they should not be expected to work with poorly written or non-idiomatic English.
The dissertation must adhere to the Jacobs School of Music style guidelines. For PhD students, the dissertation must also adhere to the University Graduate School style guidelines. Where the guidelines are in conflict, PhD students should conform to University Graduate School guidelines.
The Review Stage
When the research director is satisfied with your completed dissertation draft, ask your research director to send an e-mail message to the doctoral clerk in the music graduate office at musdoc [at] indiana [dot] edu indicating their approval to distribute the document to the research committee. Depending on how closely you have been working with the research director during the writing process, the time the research director needs to review the dissertation and approve it for distribution to the research committee may range from a couple weeks to a few months.
Using the link below, submit your dissertation to the music graduate office for distribution to the research committee. You must ask each committee member whether they prefer a printed or electronic copy and submit a printed copy for each faculty member who prefers it in that form. The dissertation will not be distributed for committee review until all necessary copies have been submitted to the music graduate office.
The dissertation must be submitted electronically using this submission form:
On the electronic submission form, you will be asked to submit the names of research committee members who have asked to receive the dissertation electronically and the names of committee members for whom you are submitting printed copies.
Printed copies may be submitted in person to the East Studio Building (JS) 120 or by mail/UPS/FedEx/etc. to:
Music Graduate Office
1201 E. 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
You are encouraged to submit printed copies double-sided.
At this point, you may also schedule your defense (see step 5).
By Jacobs School of Music policy, members of the research committee may take up to six weeks (excluding breaks) to review the dissertation and decide whether to approve it for defense. The music graduate office will inform you by e-mail when your dissertation has been approved by all committee members. You should not ask committee members for updates or ask them to review more quickly than policy dictates. The graduate office will follow up with faculty who do not respond by the requested response date.
If the research committee does not approve the dissertation for defense by the response date, the defense will be canceled and you will be required to make revisions as directed by the committee and to resubmit the dissertation for another full review. Only when the dissertation has been approved by all committee members can the defense take place.
You may schedule the defense with the doctoral clerk any time after the time the document is distributed. The defense date must be at least two weeks after the committee’s requested response date. If the defense is not scheduled in advance, it may be scheduled as soon as the committee approves the document. Note that for PhD students, the University Graduate School requires submission of a defense announcement at least 30 days in advance of the defense date, which should be taken into account when selecting a date.
Defenses are held Mondays through Fridays at 4:00 pm during the fall and spring semesters (except not during the first week of classes, during final exam week, or on holidays or during breaks). If all committee members are available, the defense may be scheduled during the normal six-week JSOM summer term.
Every member of the research committee must ordinarily be present in person at the defense. Exceptionally, students may petition, after consulting with their committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, to have defenses administered online using videoconferencing software.
Once the date is confirmed, inform the music graduate office so that an e-mail announcement can be sent to you and your committee members. At this time, PhD students prepare the defense announcement for the graduate school. Your defense announcement must be received and processed by the University Graduate School at least 40 days in advance of the scheduled defense date (the University Graduate School requires the announcement at least 30 days in advance of the defense date, and requests at least 10 days for processing). More information on this process may be found here. (This requirement does not affect DME students.)
The Defense Stage
A defense is attended by the members of the research committee, other members of the Jacobs School of Music community, and others whom you or your department invite. It typically begins with a presentation in which you explain how you came to the topic and give an overview of the research and its results. This is followed by questions on the project and topic from members of the committee (and, if time permits, from guests).
Immediately after the defense, the members of the research committee will meet privately to decide on its acceptability for the degree. The committee may also communicate to you any last-minute suggestions for minor revisions to the dissertation. The committee will determine which (if any) committee members will approve these final revisions.
In place of signed acceptance pages, the University Graduate School has created an eDoc that will allow them to collect electronic signatures to approve dissertations and theses as opposed to collecting emails or using physical signatures. When a student defends their thesis or dissertation they will need to submit the Defense Signature eDoc. They will fill out the eDoc by entering the names and network ID of their IU committee members in the fields under “Committee Members”. Members outside of IU are listed in the field under “Outside Members”. The IU committee members will then approve the eDoc which will serve the same purpose as their physical signature. If there are outside members the Chair or Co-Chair’s approval will serve as the approval of that member since they do not have an IU network ID and so will not have access to the eDoc.
Once the defense is passed, you will make any required changes, have them approved, and submit the completed dissertation.