Final Steps

Final Public Oral and the Ph.D Degree in Physics

When a student has written his/her thesis and is ready to defend, there are several steps to be followed.  You need to  allow at least one full month between the time you have a finished draft in hand the date of your FPO. Most importantly, it is necessary to consult with the Graduate Administrator  (Jadwin 210) to review the complete process.

For information pertaining to formatting your thesis, information is available at the Mudd Library website. The bindary is Smith-Shattuck Bookbinding, 759 State Road, Rte. 206 North, Princeton, NJ 08540, (609) 497-1445,  Smith-Shattuck will pick up at Princeton Printer, 150 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08540, (609) 924-4630,  Your thesis should be bound by the date of your FPO or no later than two weeks from the date you defend.  The exception to this is if your FPO is less than two weeks from the degree deadline

First steps

Your advisor will be your first reader and you need to ask someone to be a second reader.   Your advisor and second reader will need to prepare a "Readers Report" that is submitted to the Graduate Administrator at least two weeks prior to your defense.  ("At least one of the principal readers of the dissertation must be from the student’s home department. Qualified principal readers are those who are authorized to supervise doctoral dissertations in the University (such as regular faculty at the rank of assistant professor or higher and certain others in senior research ranks). External readers must be of comparable standing in another university or in the research community. External readers must be approved by the Graduate School prior to dissertation submission." )

You must choose an FPO committee and arrange  a date for your FPO.

  • A minimum of 3 faculty members who are at least at the rank of assistant professor at Princeton, two of whom have not been readers.
  • Theorists must have an experimentalist on the committee;
  • Experimentalists must have a theorist on the committee.
  • Both theorists and experimentalists must have a committee member who is not in their area of physics.
  • Both of these requirements may be the same person.

Once your committee is assembled and a date and time has been agreed upon complete your advanced degree application through TigerHub and Contact the Graduate Administrator to reserve a room.

Your online Advanced Degree Application should contain: Title Page, abstract (350 words or less) and optional Embargo request.  Once you have those items uploaded submit your application to the Department.

If you have experimental data, computational date, and/or code that has been generated as part of your dissertation make sure your advisor/department has been provided access to and reviewed all relevant data and/or code related to the dissertation before your application is submitted to the Graduate School.  

More than two weeks before the Final Public Oral Examination:

  • Going on deposit: This means that the thesis is placed on the web for all department members to read, for a period of two weeks. If corrections are suggested, the student makes them at that time. The Graduate Administrator must receive an e-mail from the student with the thesis in .pdf format and the abstract in a word document.
  • The Graduate Administrator  will upload the rest of your application: Prior Presentation and Publication form reviewed and approved by adviser(s), Reader reports completed by principal readers of the dissertation and "Request to hold final public oral Exam" that is automatically generated after the degree candidate submits their application.

Day of Defense:

Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your defense so that the Graduate Administrator can help you set up your laptop.  The Graduate Administrator will have a filled out "Final Public Oral Examination Report" for the Chair of the committee to approve. Following your defense the Graduate Administrator will make two copies of this approved form.  One for the Physics Department and one for the applicant.

The below are steps from the Graduate School website (The Graduate School has modified Guidelines in place due to COVID-19.  )

  • Confirm that the FPO examination report has the signature of FPO chair or DGS.

The following items are due in Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library (link is external) normally immediately after the successful completion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense:

  • Final Public Oral Exam Report signed by chair of FPO Committee or DGS (1 original plus 1 copy);
  • One bound copy of the dissertation;
  • 1 electronic copy of dissertation in Adobe PDF format.  Complete the online submission of your dissertation on the ProQuest UMI ETD Administrator website ( ). Students are required to upload a PDF of their dissertation, choose publishing options, enter subject categories and keywords, and make payment (fees apply only if you have chosen the Open Access publishing option or copyright registration or if you wish to order additional bound copies of your work).
  • A print-out of the confirmation email received after submitting the dissertation to the ProQuest ETD Administrator site (or the email may be displayed on a mobile device)
  • Payment of publishing and copyright fees, if applicable (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions);
  • If an embargo was requested, a copy of the Graduate School's embargo approval.
  • During the Mudd Library closure (link is external), dissertation submissions will be accepted at the Special Collections Suite on C floor in Firestone Library between March 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021. Students will need to visit the Access Office (link is external) in the main lobby and present a photo ID to gain access to the Special Collections Suite. Questions can be directed to (link sends e-mail), or call (609)258-6345.

The four documents below must be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, 104 Clio Hall, normally immediately after the successful completion of final public oral exam, but in no case later than two weeks after the successful defense:

All documents must be received by the degree deadline.

Students may wish to consult Benefits and Status after the FPO for information about benefits you may receive between FPO and degree conferral.