Upon the completion of  thesis research, each student will write a doctoral dissertation to submit to their Thesis Committee for evaluation and minor revision.  The appropriate format for the written dissertation is described at the Brown University Dissertation Guidelines web site. Before the thesis is submitted to the Committee, the student and Thesis Advisor must ensure that the thesis is complete and the Committee has adequate time to read it.  At this stage, a qualified outside reader with relevant expertise is invited to join the Thesis Committee. The outside reader may be a faculty member from another University or hold an equivalent position in a research institution (e.g. Senior Investigator at the NIH) other than Brown and its affiliated institutions.  The student has the responsibility to schedule the defense and must submit the final document to all Committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled thesis defense. The NSGP Program must also receive a copy of the thesis that is sent to the outside reader, no later than two weeks prior to the student’s scheduled defense date.


The thesis forms the basis for a public seminar that must take place at Brown University.  A closed oral examination attended by the Thesis Committee and other interested Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty will follow the seminar.  This final examination or defense must be scheduled by the candidate at the convenience of the readers. At least four weeks’ notice must be given to all faculty and students prior to the final defense date and at least two weeks must elapse between submission of the written thesis to the Thesis Committee and the final defense.

Three weeks prior to the defense, candidates must provide the Neuroscience Graduate Program with appropriate dissertation defense information so the Thesis Defense Form can be completed and returned to the Graduate School.  The following information is required:

  • The names of the dissertation advisor and all readers (with contact information for anyone who is not at Brown University).
  •  The date, time, and place of the final examination.  In some departments this information will come from the manager or the director.
  •  All of the candidate's previous academic degrees, with institutions and dates of conferral.
  •  Date of preliminary examination.

On the day of the thesis defense, the candidate will need at least two copies of their signature page printed on archival-quality paper.  Immediately following a successful thesis defense, the candidate must obtain the signatures of the Thesis Committee members to complete the Thesis Defense Form (or Virtual Form) and signature page.  

After the thesis defense, the final doctoral dissertation and all associated forms and documents related to the completion of a PhD must be submitted to the Graduate School by the first business day of May in order to graduate in the current academic year.  Please consult the Dissertation Guidelines from the Graduate School for forms, documents, and additional information regarding the thesis defense process.

View Dissertation Guidelines