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Thesis Submission and Defense Process

Once the thesis proposal has been approved, students should consult regularly with the adviser, and, if possible, the other committee members.  During this period students should get references, clarify ideas or approaches, and submit drafts of chapters for feedback.

Students should plan ahead to ensure that they are able to meet the thesis defense deadline for the semester in which they plan to graduate.

If you have questions about the thesis defense process, please write to gallatin.thesis@nyu.edu.

Selecting the Thesis Committee

Each thesis committee includes three panelists who will read the thesis and participate in the thesis defense. Of the three panelists, one must be the student's primary academic adviser, and at least one must be a full-time Gallatin faculty member. If the academic adviser is a full-time Gallatin faculty member, the student may opt to ask two other non-Gallatin faculty members to serve on the committee.

Students are responsible for selecting and confirming the participation of each panelist. Students should consult with their primary advisers about composing the committee. The M.A. program directors are also available to help students with this process.

Submitting the Thesis to the Adviser

At this stage, the student solicits feedback from the adviser and other committee members, but does not submit the thesis to Gallatin.

Submitting the Thesis to Gallatin and to the Thesis Defense Committee

To submit the thesis to Gallatin and to the thesis committee, students should use the online Thesis Submission form.  This form will send copies of the thesis to the adviser and to the second and third reader.  At this stage, Gallatin will contact the adviser to confirm his or her approval of the thesis.  Gallatin must have confirmation of the adviser's approval before the student will be allowed to schedule the defense.

Students completing an artistic thesis that entails a performance must arrange to have the committee members see the performance no less than one week before the defense.

Scheduling the Defense

By the time the student has submitted the thesis to Gallatin, he or she should be finalizing arrangements for the defense. Students should consult with all three panelists regarding the dates and times when they are available. When an acceptable date and time have been arranged, the student should complete the online Thesis Defense Registration form, which must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the defense. In addition to the date and time of the defense, the student should provide on the form the names of the committee members and their email addresses. A defense confirmation will be emailed to the student, the adviser, the second reader, and the third reader.

Please note: The student is responsible for acting as the liaison among the three members of the defense committee. Students must work with their committee members to find an acceptable date. The defense will, of course, be contingent upon final approval of the thesis itself by all three committee members. If one of the members rejects the paper, or requests substantial revisions, the defense date may have to be postponed unless changes can be made in time.

Students should also be aware that they may encounter some difficulties in finding committee members or arranging a date for a defense in January or September because of the limited availability of faculty during the summer months and winter recess.

Defending the Thesis

If the thesis is approved at the defense, the committee will sign the final approval document and forward it to the Registrar's Office. Students who have passed the defense and have met all other degree requirements will be eligible for graduation.

If the committee asks for revisions, the student will have a specified amount of time to produce them and have them approved. (Such revisions may or may not set back the graduation date, depending on how long they take.) The committee may also ask for minor editorial changes, which will not delay graduation. Students will have up to 30 days to make these changes and submit the final thesis to Gallatin. In some cases, the committee may ask to see the revised thesis before it is added to the Gallatin Master's Thesis Archive.

Submitting the Final Thesis

At the time of the defense, the committee will complete the Instructions for the Final Thesis form. This form indicates what type of changes the student needs to make to the thesis before submitting the final thesis to Gallatin.

Within 30 days after the defense, the student must submit the final, corrected version of the thesis (please see the formatting guidelines for more information). The final thesis must be submitted electronically by completing the online Final Thesis Submission form.

Thesis Defense Deadlines

In planning the date of the thesis defense, students must adhere to the scheduling calendar below. Students should note these time allowances do not include university holidays such as spring break and the winter recess.  Therefore, if you are planning a May graduation and submitting your thesis to your adviser early in the spring semester, you will need to do this 11 weeks prior to your defense date (as opposed to normal 10 weeks), due to spring recess. Students should discuss the scheduling of their thesis completion with their advisers several months before the deadlines stated below.  

Thesis submission deadline to adviser
Thesis submission deadline to Gallatin and to second and third readersThesis defense registration deadlineTerm in which the student plans to complete the thesisFinal date to defend the thesis



10 weeks prior to the defense date



4 weeks prior to the defense date



3 weeks prior to the defense date

Summer 2015* September 23, 2015
Fall 2015 January 20, 2016
Spring 2016 May 13, 2016
Summer 2016* September 23, 2016
Fall 2016 January 20, 2017
Spring 2017 TBA

 *  Due to the limited availability of faculty during the summer months and winter recess, students should be aware that they may encounter some difficulties in finding committee members or arranging a date for a defense in January or September.  September graduation is appropriate for students who have completed most of the thesis by the late spring. Students must register for thesis advisement in the summer, if they plan on graduating in September.

Please note that these time allowances do not include university holidays such as spring break and the winter recess.

Matriculation Policy

Students must be matriculated at the time they defend the thesis. That is, students must be registered for Master’s Thesis and Defense (for students who started in Spring 2013 or earlier) or Master's Thesis II (for students who started in Summer 2013 or later). Students who need additional time to complete the thesis must then register for Thesis Advisement each term (including the summer, if they plan on graduating in September) until they have successfully defended the thesis. Note that any credits earned through Thesis Advisement are not included in the 40-credit requirement for the master’s degree.  Thesis Advisement has a special tuition rate of $400 (plus a nonrefundable registration and services fee). Students may not maintain matriculation after completing 37 credits. Rather, they must enroll in Master’s Thesis and Defense, Master's Thesis II, or Thesis Advisement (if appropriate). 

Students who defend in time for January graduation do not need to matriculate in the spring semester. Students who defend in time for September graduation do not need to matriculate in the fall term, but do need to matriculate in the summer term. Please note: only students who will defend for September graduation are required to matriculate in the summer term.

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