In this section

Last Revision: January 30, 2024

Dissertation Defense

To complete the doctoral program, you must write and defend your dissertation. The dissertation must be approved by the dissertation committee via the oral defense.

Oral Defense of Dissertation: Possible outcomes for the dissertation defense are “Pass with Distinction,” “Pass,” “Pass with Revisions,” or “Fail.” Committee members award a “Pass with Distinction” if they believe you have produced a study worthy of publication in a top-tier venue (either academic or trade publication).

  • The “Pass with Distinction” indicates that the dissertation is of superior quality and would meet application standards for peer reviewed journal. This will only be awarded to the top ten percent of dissertations.
  • A “Pass” indicates that you have successfully completed the dissertation and are ready to submit it for graduation.
  • A “Pass with Revisions” indicates that you need to complete specific revisions and receive approval from the committee before submitting the dissertation for graduation.
  • A “Fail” indicates that the dissertation needs substantial revisions. You must schedule another oral defense within 6 months of the original defense, in coordination with the faculty advisor and committee.

Submitting the Dissertation: After the committee has approved the final draft of the dissertation, you are required to submit it to the APUS Repository and Proquest Theses and Dissertations database in order to graduate. Your dissertation chair will provide you with guidance about this process.

Dissertation Committee: The dissertation committee is made up of your dissertation chair and one other faculty member from APUS. You are required to have one approved external member. Qualifications for this person are spelled out in the Dissertation Manual. Each member of the committee must approve that dissertation proposal and the final product.