The final dissertation defense committee consists of the thesis advisor, three other MCB Graduate Program trainers (usually the members of the Thesis Advisory Committee), and a Reader external to Brown. The external Reader must not have a conflict of interest such as a collaborative relationship with the student or the Thesis Advisor, as determined by the Program Director.

The written thesis should represent a comprehensive summation of the student's total research effort. With this goal in mind, the document should contain the following elements:

  • Abstract - no more than 350 words summarizing the thesis problem, methods used to solve the problem, the results, and conclusions.
  • Introduction (First Chapter) - a comprehensive review of the field and reasons for performing the research.
  • Research Results (Middle Chapters) - a description of the research performed.
  • Discussion (Final Chapter) - a research summary including significance and future directions.

Portions of the student's research work that have progressed to manuscript form or that have been published can be incorporated as a chapter or part of a chapter, within the Research Results section of the thesis. For all co-authored manuscripts that are included, the student should explicitly state his/her contribution to the work. Detailed instructions on preparation and format of the Ph.D. thesis are available from the Brown Graduate School (see below).

The thesis will be submitted to the committee at least two weeks before the defense. The student will defend the thesis at a public seminar presentation, followed by a closed-door examination attended by members of the thesis committee and any other MCB Graduate Program faculty trainers who choose to participate. All MCB faculty trainers will be notified at least one week before each thesis defense.

Thesis Defense Paperwork:

The Brown Graduate School requires a dissertation information form and a copy of the thesis title page at least two weeks before the defense date. For the dissertation information form, the student should provide the Graduate Program Coordinator with following information by e-mail:

  • How the student's name will appear on the degree (middle name, middle initial, etc.)
  • The exact title of the thesis
  • The name and academic affiliation of the outside reader. 

Using this information, the Graduate Program Coordinator will complete the dissertation information form and obtain the Director's signature on this form.

In addition, the student should provide a copy of the title page of the thesis including the phrase "approval of semi-final version" and the advisor's signature.

These two documents are submitted to the Academic Affairs Manager at the Graduate School.

Specific instructions for the preparation of the thesis can be found starting at the Graduate School website.

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