Navigating Graduation

Timeline for graduation

The timeline for graduation, as well as other frequently asked questions and reminders is located in the accordion below.

PhD Candidacy forms should be filed after the dissertation proposal is accepted. Divisional policy states that all students are to be admitted to candidacy by the end of their ninth quarter (end of Autumn Quarter, third year).

Alumni – Stay in touch

We’d love to hear from you -- stay in touch with your graduate programs through your PI, your chair, and your graduate program administrator.

Feel free to email the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs at any time. You’ll find an alumni tab on our website.

Connect to any of us on LinkedIn. Another way to stay in touch is through the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association.

You will find information about forwarding and access to your uchicago.edu email after graduation on the IT Services help page.

10 to 8 months before graduation

Meet with both your graduate program administrator and your advisor to go over the timetable to graduation. A meeting with your program director may be indicated as well.

Confirm with your program administrator:

  • Candidacy forms submitted
  • Examine your transcript for missing grades: all grades must be submitted before a student graduates.
  • Program timetable and requirements for graduation
  • Check your expected date of graduation on student portal: update as needed
6 months before graduation

Meet with staff in the Dissertation Office to go over University requirements for the dissertation

Check travel schedule of your committee if appropriate

Three months before graduation

Set defense date with your committee. Be aware of the dissertation submission deadlines for each quarter, as your defense must be done before the Dissertation’s Office deadline, and must allow for time for any needed revisions to the dissertation prior to the submission date.

Application for the degree: you must submit an application for the degree by the end of the first week of the quarter. This is done online through myUChicago.

If your full name is not the same as the name that the Registrar’s Office has on file as your official name, and you would like your full name on your diploma, you may need to complete a name change form with the Registrar’s Office. You can see their requirements for name changes on their website.

You must also either have your photo taken, or submit a formal digital photo to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs. If you are on-campus, the photographer’s services are provided at no cost to you, and you may get a digital copy upon request. If you are not on campus, you must send the Graduate Student Affairs Administrator a digital photo, preferably a headshot. This photo will be used for the program booklet for the Divisional Academic Ceremony (the hooding ceremony in June).

Submitting your dissertation to the Dissertation Office

The Library has a Dissertation Office  to which all University of Chicago dissertations are submitted.  As their website notes, “Doctoral dissertations are original contributions to scholarship. As a condition for receipt of the doctorate, all students are required to execute a publication agreement with ProQuest UMI Dissertation Publishing.”  Further, “All dissertations must follow the formatting and submission requirements stated in University-Wide Requirements for the Ph.D. Dissertation, available from the Dissertation Office on the first floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library.” The Dissertation Office is located in Room 100B of the Joseph Regenstein Library: they request that you stay in touch during the quarter you intend to graduate. Pay attention to the correspondence from the Dissertation Office: the information they share is very useful. They may have a training session to help you with the process of submitting your dissertation on the ETD site, and their site for current graduates is very helpful. Please keep in mind the deadlines set by the Dissertation Office when scheduling your defense: you cannot submit your dissertation before the defense.

What happens if I don’t make the deadline for submitting my dissertation?

Contact OGPA as soon as you know you will not make the graduation deadline.  You may withdraw from graduation up to Friday of fifth week without penalty.  Canceling your convocation application after fifth week will incur a graduation cancellation fee.  It is important to maintain communication with your graduate program administrator, OGPA, and the dissertation office during this time.

Please see our policy on receiving your PhD without registering.

Ordering robes

Academic attire is ordered through the bookstore. You will order the robes and tam; the hood is a gift from the Medical and Biological Sciences Development office presented at the Divisional Academic Ceremony.

From the Convocation website (you will find this under “Information for Degree Candidates” for the quarter you’ll graduate): “The University Bookstore, 970 East 58th Street, always has Bachelor's and Master's degree gowns and caps on hand. To ensure a proper size you are encourage to purchase your attire at the University Bookstore as soon as possible. If you need to rent a Doctoral or J.D. degree gown and/or hood, please place your order through the University Bookstore, 970 East 58th Street, 773.702.7712, as soon as possible. The Bookstore is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.”

Academic attire is required to participate in the Divisional Academic Ceremony (the hooding ceremony) as well as for Convocation.

Final Exam Report

The final formal act of your defense is the completion of the “Final Exam Report.” This should be prepared in advance by your graduate program administrator and then signed by the members of your committee after you defend. At least three faculty members must sign the form. Your graduate program administrator should take care of delivering it to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs. Make sure your administrator has the final title of your dissertation on the form.

Mailing re: convocation

In the fourth or fifth week of the quarter you graduate, you will get a mailing from the Registrar’s Office detailing convocation plans. Please watch for this in the mail (not email!), and make sure your address is correct in the University’s systems so that you receive the mailing.

Convocation vs. the Divisional Academic Ceremony

At Convocation, the University confers your diploma. Held in June, this is outdoors on the Main Quad, and no tickets are required.

Your advisor may march in the faculty procession in academic attire, but plays no formal role in the ceremony other than as a witness.

At the Divisional Academic Ceremony (DAC), you receive the academic PhD hood. Organized in conjunction with the University of Chicago Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association, this ceremony is held once a year in June just prior to Convocation, and all graduates receiving their PhDs in the current academic year may elect to participate (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring). It is preceded by a formal dinner at a hotel.

At this ceremony, your advisor may participate by hooding you. The person hooding you may also be a family member or friend with a doctorate, or you may choose to be hooded by the faculty marshal. The Dean’s Council selects the faculty marshal and invites the speaker for the DAC.

The Divisional Academic Ceremony (DAC)

All graduates from the current academic year may participate in the Divisional Academic Ceremony. Summer, Autumn, and Winter graduates will be invited through a survey sent out by OGPA (usually in March), so it is critical that OGPA has an email address for you that you read regularly. Spring graduates will also be asked to complete the survey, though at a later date.  

All graduates for  the current academic year are also invited to a formal dinner, typically the night before the DAC,  and typically held off campus.  Invitations to that event will go out in mid-spring.

The DAC and the formal dinner the night before are sponsored by the Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association.

Academic attire is worn at the DAC; please order through the Bookstore in a timely manner.  Attire for the dinner is usually cocktail attire: dressy, but not formal (i.e., suits, ties, and cocktail dresses, but not long gowns and tuxes). 

Survey of Graduates

In March, OGPA will send you a link to a survey (April for Spring graduates). This survey provides critical details about the Divisional Academic Ceremony. It’s your opportunity to tell us whether or not you can attend – this often changes between the time you fill out the Registrar’s application for graduation and the spring, so it is important that we get this update.

This survey also asks you to provide other information which is needed for several reasons:  for instance, the survey will ask about your current position, which is needed both for the DAC program and for reporting purposes. It is really important that you complete the survey, even if you are unable to attend the DAC.

If you choose not to keep your uchicago email active, please supply us with a valid email that you check frequently.

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