Final Oral Examinations

All NRSM students must successfully complete a final oral examination. Doctoral students are required to offer a formal, public presentation of their research prior to sitting for the final oral exam itself, which is closed to the public and limited to only the student and the committee members. Master's students are not required to give a formal, public presentation; this determination is made by the student and their advisor and/or committee members. Again, the final exam itself is always closed to the public. 

There is no time limit for the final oral exam, but they typically range from 1.5 to 3 hours. Students are encouraged to discuss expectations for the exam with committee members. Typically, committee members will ask students questions about their research (i.e., hypothesis, methodology, results, implications, etc.), but they may also choose to ask questions related to general knowledge that they feel the student will have obtained through coursework and the reading of relevant literature. 

Master's Degree

Master's students are eligible to take the final examination after the following milestones have been completed:

  • GPAS degree plan and the NRSM research plan are fully approved,
  • the final exam committee has been submitted and fully approved,
  • the graduation packet has been downloaded.

Within the graduation packet, there are additional processes that must be completed before the student can graduate. See the master's checklist for details. 

Doctoral Degree

PhD students are eligible to schedule their final examination after the following milestones have been completed:

  • GPAS degree plan and the NRSM research plan are fully approved,
  • the doctoral preliminary examinations have been completed,
  • the final exam committee has been submitted and fully approved,
  • the graduation packet has been downloaded
  • all coursework, including thesis credits, are completed (i.e., there are no incompletes or missing grades).

Within the graduation packet, there are additional processes that must be completed before the student can graduate. See the doctoral checklist for details.

Please consult the GSSP website for more specific information regarding processes and paperwork. In addition, please see the Policy Library for policies regarding master’s and doctoral degree standards and progress, as well as FAQs.