The top 10 thesis defense questions (+ how to prepare strong answers)

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Crafting a thesis is significant, but defending it often feels like the ultimate test. While nerve-wracking, proper preparation can make it manageable. Prepare for your thesis defense with insights on the top questions you can expect, including strategies for answering convincingly.

Mastering the thesis defense: cultivate a success mindset

Question 1: why did you choose this particular topic for your research, question 2: how does your research contribute to the existing body of knowledge, question 3: what are the key findings of your research, question 4: can you defend your research methodology, question 5: how did you analyze the data and what challenges did you encounter, question 6: what theoretical frameworks or references underpin your research, question 7: how did you address ethical considerations in your research, question 8: in what ways does your research contribute to the field, question 9: how did you ensure your research was free from bias, question 10: where can future research go from here.

Nurturing a success mindset for your defense is pivotal. This means adopting a mental outlook geared towards achieving favorable outcomes during your thesis defense. To truly excel in this pivotal academic moment, it’s imperative to cultivate both confidence and composure.

Confidence enables you to present your research with conviction, while composure allows you to navigate any challenges with grace and clarity.

Remember, you know your thesis best, so trust in your expertise.

In essence, a success mindset encompasses the belief in your abilities, coupled with the ability to remain calm and focused under pressure.

Stay composed and focused, relying on your thorough preparation. If you encounter a question you can’t answer, gracefully guide the conversation back to familiar topics.

Use strategic responses when needed. For example, if a question goes beyond your thesis scope, acknowledge its relevance but steer back to your focused areas. Similarly, if you’re unfamiliar with a theory or literature, admit it but offer related insights or perspectives.

By embracing these principles and staying confident and adaptable, you’ll navigate your thesis defense with ease.

This question delves into the origins of your academic journey, aiming to understand not just what you studied, but the underlying motivations and processes that drove your exploration. It’s not merely about the superficial aspects of your research, but rather about the deeper intellectual curiosity that ignited your quest.

To effectively respond, take the opportunity to elaborate on the intricacies of your journey. Begin by unpacking the specific interests or questions that sparked your intellectual curiosity in the subject matter. What events, experiences, or influences led you to delve into this particular area of study? Providing an anecdote or example that vividly illustrates the genesis of your scholarly pursuit can be helpful.

Moreover, discuss the gaps you identified in the existing literature that motivated you to contribute to your field. What deficiencies or unanswered questions did you observe? How did these gaps inspire you to embark on your research journey with the aim of filling these voids? By articulating the specific shortcomings in the current body of knowledge, you demonstrate a nuanced understanding of your research area and underscore the significance of your work.

Additionally, highlight any personal or academic experiences that played a pivotal role in steering you towards your chosen topic. Whether it was a transformative educational experience, a profound personal interest, or a meaningful encounter, these experiences can offer valuable insights into the origins of your scholarly pursuits.

In summary, when articulating your narrative, consider the following key points:

  • Unpack the specific interests or questions that sparked your intellectual curiosity.
  • Discuss the gaps in the existing literature that motivated your research.
  • Highlight any personal or academic experiences that influenced your choice of topic.

This question delves into the vital role your research plays within the existing body of knowledge, urging you to articulate its significance and impact. It’s not merely about the subject matter you’ve studied, but also about the unique contributions and advancements your research brings to your field. To effectively respond, delve into the intricacies of your work and its implications for the broader academic landscape.

Begin by emphasizing the novelties and breakthroughs your research introduces. Highlight specific aspects of your study that represent advancements in understanding or methodologies. Whether it’s a novel approach to a longstanding problem, the discovery of new phenomena, or the development of innovative methodologies, these contributions underscore the significance of your research within the academic community.

Next, describe how your work engages with or challenges current conversations in your field. Discuss the existing paradigms or theories your research builds upon or critiques. Articulate how your findings contribute to ongoing debates or reshape prevailing understandings. By positioning your research within the broader context of scholarly discourse, you showcase its relevance and impact on the evolving landscape of your field.

Illuminate how your findings could influence future research trajectories. Explore potential avenues for further inquiry that emerge from your research findings. Consider how your work opens up new questions or areas of exploration for future researchers. By identifying these potential research directions, you demonstrate the forward-looking nature of your work and its potential to shape the future trajectory of your field.

In summary, when addressing how your research contributes to the existing body of knowledge, consider the following key points:

  • Emphasize the novelties and breakthroughs your research introduces.
  • Describe the conversations in your field that your work engages with or challenges.
  • Illuminate how your findings could influence future research trajectories.

Addressing the question of your research’s key findings demands skill, as it necessitates succinctly summarizing your work while conveying its significance. To effectively respond, distill your findings into digestible takeaways that encapsulate the essence of your research. Identify the central discoveries or outcomes of your study, ensuring clarity and conciseness in your presentation.

Furthermore, relate these findings to the broader implications they hold for your field. Articulate how your research contributes to advancing knowledge or addressing pressing issues within your academic discipline. Consider the potential impact of your findings on theory, practice, or policy, highlighting their relevance and significance within the larger scholarly community.

Additionally, be prepared to elucidate the nuances and complexities involved in your results. While providing a concise summary of your findings is essential, it’s equally important to acknowledge the intricacies and limitations of your research. Discuss any methodological considerations, unexpected outcomes, or areas for further investigation, demonstrating a nuanced understanding of your work.

In summary, when addressing the key findings of your research, consider the following key points:

  • Distill your findings into digestible takeaways.
  • Relate the outcomes to the broader implications they hold for your field.
  • Be prepared to shed light on the nuances and complexities involved in your results.

Defending your research methodology entails a comprehensive understanding of its rationale, alignment with research objectives, and acknowledgment of potential limitations. It’s not merely about explaining the methods employed but also justifying why they were chosen over alternative approaches. To effectively respond, delve into the intricacies of your methodology and its implications for the study.

Begin by elucidating the reasons for selecting the chosen methodology over alternatives. Discuss the specific advantages or suitability of the selected approach in addressing the research questions or objectives. Consider factors such as feasibility, appropriateness for the research context, and compatibility with the theoretical framework guiding your study.

Furthermore, explain how your chosen methods align with your research objectives. Articulate how the selected methodology enables you to achieve the intended outcomes and contribute to answering the research questions. Discuss how each methodological choice supports the overall research design and furthers the overarching goals of the study.

Be prepared to discuss the limitations inherent in your chosen methodology and how you mitigated them. Acknowledge any constraints or shortcomings associated with the selected approach, such as potential biases, sample size limitations, or data collection challenges. Demonstrate your awareness of these limitations and discuss the strategies implemented to address or minimize their impact on the validity and reliability of your findings.

In summary, when defending your research methodology, consider the following key points:

  • Justify the methodology with reasons for selecting it over alternatives.
  • Explain the methods’ alignment with your research objectives.
  • Be ready to discuss the limitations and how you mitigated them.

Addressing the intricacies of data analysis involves not only outlining the techniques employed but also navigating the challenges encountered and evaluating the reliability and validity of the interpretations drawn. When responding to inquiries about data analysis, it’s essential to provide a comprehensive understanding of the methodologies employed, the obstacles faced, and the strategies utilized to ensure the accuracy and credibility of the findings.

Begin by outlining the techniques used for data analysis. Describe the specific methods, tools, and software employed to process and interpret the data collected. Whether it involved quantitative statistical analysis, qualitative coding techniques, or a combination of both, provide insights into the analytical framework guiding your study. Additionally, discuss the rationale behind the chosen analytical approach and how it aligns with the research objectives and questions.

Next, share the hurdles faced during the data analysis process and how you overcame them. Reflect on any challenges encountered, such as data cleaning issues, missing data, or unexpected patterns in the dataset. Discuss the steps taken to address these challenges, whether through iterative refinement of analytical techniques, consultation with peers or supervisors, or adaptation of the research design. Highlighting your ability to navigate obstacles demonstrates resilience and resourcefulness in overcoming methodological challenges.

Furthermore, discuss the reliability and validity of your data interpretation. Evaluate the rigor and credibility of your analytical process, considering factors such as data integrity, consistency, and relevance to the research objectives. Discuss any measures taken to ensure the trustworthiness of the findings, such as inter-coder reliability checks, triangulation of data sources, or member checking with participants. By critically examining the reliability and validity of your data interpretation, you provide insights into the robustness of your analytical approach and the credibility of the conclusions drawn.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about data analysis, consider the following key points:

  • Outline the techniques used for data analysis.
  • Share the hurdles faced during the process and how you overcame them.
  • Discuss the reliability and validity of your data interpretation.

Exploring the theoretical underpinnings of your research involves delving into the foundational frameworks and seminal works that informed your study’s conceptual framework and analytical approach. When responding to inquiries about theoretical frameworks , it’s essential to provide a comprehensive understanding of the theories and references that shaped your research, elucidate their influence on your hypothesis and analysis, and reflect on the potential contributions or revisions your study may offer to existing theoretical foundations.

Begin by naming the key theories and seminal works that guided your research. Identify the theoretical frameworks that provided the conceptual scaffolding for your study, as well as the seminal works that shaped your understanding of the research area. Discuss how these theories and references informed your research design, methodology, and analytical approach, providing a theoretical lens through which to interpret your findings.

Elucidate on how these frameworks shaped your hypothesis and analysis. Describe how the theoretical perspectives and insights gleaned from seminal works informed the development of your research questions, hypotheses, and analytical framework. Discuss the ways in which these theoretical frameworks guided your data collection and interpretation, influencing the selection of variables, measures, and analytical techniques employed in your study.

Reflect on how your research may contribute to or revise these theoretical foundations. Consider the implications of your findings for advancing existing theoretical frameworks or revising established paradigms within your field. Discuss how your research extends or challenges current theoretical perspectives, offering new insights, conceptual refinements, or empirical evidence that may enrich or reshape prevailing theories. By critically examining the relationship between your research and existing theoretical frameworks, you provide insights into the broader theoretical implications and contributions of your study.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about theoretical frameworks, consider the following key points:

  • Name the key theories and seminal works that guided your research.
  • Elucidate on how these frameworks shaped your hypothesis and analysis.
  • Reflect on how your research may contribute to or revise these theoretical foundations.

When addressing ethical considerations in your research, it’s essential to demonstrate a commitment to upholding ethical standards and protecting the rights and well-being of participants. Responding to inquiries about ethical protocols involves explaining the steps taken to ensure ethical conduct throughout the research process, describing the consent process and data protection measures implemented, and mentioning any institutional review board (IRB) approvals obtained.

Begin by explaining the ethical protocols you followed. Detail the ethical guidelines, codes of conduct, or regulatory frameworks that informed your research design and conduct. Discuss how these guidelines influenced decisions regarding participant recruitment, data collection methods, confidentiality protocols, and data storage procedures, emphasizing your adherence to ethical principles throughout the research process.

Describe the consent process, if applicable, and how you protected participants’ data. Provide insights into how informed consent was obtained from participants, including the procedures used to inform participants about the research purpose, risks, benefits, and their rights. Discuss any measures taken to safeguard participants’ privacy and confidentiality, such as anonymizing data, securing data storage, and limiting access to sensitive information, ensuring the protection of participants’ identities and personal information.

Mention any institutional ethics review board approvals you obtained. Highlight any formal ethical review processes or approvals obtained from relevant regulatory bodies, such as IRBs or ethics committees. Discuss how the research protocol was reviewed for compliance with ethical guidelines and standards, including considerations of participant welfare, informed consent procedures, and data protection measures. By acknowledging the oversight and approval of institutional review bodies, you demonstrate your commitment to ethical integrity and accountability in conducting research involving human subjects.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about ethical considerations in your research, consider the following key points:

  • Explain the ethical protocols you followed.
  • Describe the consent process and data protection measures implemented.
  • Mention any institutional ethics review board approvals obtained.

When discussing the contributions of your research to the field, it’s essential to highlight the novel insights and potential impact your thesis offers. Responding to inquiries about your research’s significance involves detailing the unique perspectives and fresh understanding it brings to the academic discourse, as well as considering its implications for future research or practice and arguing its relevance within the broader academic community.

Begin by detailing the novel insights your thesis provides. Articulate the key findings, discoveries, or perspectives that distinguish your research from existing literature and contribute to advancing knowledge within your field. Discuss how your study fills gaps in current understanding, challenges established assumptions, or offers innovative approaches to addressing pressing issues, highlighting its potential to generate new avenues of inquiry and broaden the scope of scholarly discourse.

Discuss how your findings might influence future research or practice. Consider the implications of your research for shaping future scholarship, informing policy decisions, or guiding professional practice within relevant domains. Reflect on the potential practical applications, theoretical advancements, or methodological innovations stemming from your findings, highlighting their significance for advancing the field and addressing real-world challenges.

Be prepared to argue the relevance of your research within the broader academic community. Articulate the broader significance of your study within the context of current debates, trends, or priorities within your discipline. Discuss how your research aligns with existing scholarly agendas, contributes to interdisciplinary dialogue, or addresses pressing societal concerns, underscoring its relevance and potential impact on shaping the direction of future research and practice.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about the contributions of your research to the field, consider the following key points:

  • Detail the novel insights your thesis provides.
  • Discuss how your findings might influence future research or practice.
  • Be prepared to argue the relevance of your research within the broader academic community.

When ensuring the integrity of your research and minimizing bias, it’s crucial to maintain objectivity and rigor throughout the study. Responding to inquiries about bias involves discussing the steps taken to uphold objectivity, describing any blind or double-blind procedures employed, and acknowledging and mitigating any unavoidable biases that may have arisen during the research process.

Begin by discussing the steps taken to maintain objectivity and rigor. Detail the strategies implemented to minimize the influence of personal biases, preconceptions, or external factors on the research outcomes. This may include adhering to a predetermined research protocol, using standardized procedures for data collection and analysis, and engaging in peer review or validation processes to ensure the reliability and validity of the findings.

Describe any blind or double-blind procedures employed in the study. Explain how blinding techniques were used to prevent bias in data collection, analysis, or interpretation. This may involve withholding certain information from researchers or participants to minimize the potential for conscious or unconscious bias to influence the results. Discuss how these procedures were implemented and their impact on enhancing the credibility and impartiality of the research outcomes.

Acknowledge any unavoidable biases that may have emerged during the research process and discuss how they were mitigated. Reflect on the inherent limitations or sources of bias in the study design, data collection methods, or participant selection criteria. Discuss the steps taken to minimize the impact of these biases, such as conducting sensitivity analyses, controlling for confounding variables, or triangulating data sources to corroborate findings.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about bias in your research, consider the following key points:

  • Discuss steps taken to maintain objectivity and rigor.
  • Describe any blind or double-blind procedures employed.
  • Acknowledge any unavoidable biases and discuss how they were mitigated.

When considering the potential trajectory of your research topic, it’s essential to identify areas where further investigation could yield valuable insights, discuss unexplored questions that emerged from your research, and reflect on the limitations of your study as starting points for future research endeavors. Responding to inquiries about the future direction of research involves suggesting fruitful areas for further investigation, highlighting unresolved questions, and leveraging the limitations of your study as opportunities for future exploration.

Begin by suggesting areas where further investigation could be fruitful. Identify specific gaps, ambiguities, or unanswered questions within the existing literature that warrant additional inquiry. Consider emerging trends, advancements in technology or methodology, or pressing societal issues that may inform potential research directions. Propose research topics or hypotheses that build upon the findings of your study and extend the boundaries of current knowledge within your field.

Discuss unexplored questions that arose from your research. Reflect on any unexpected findings, anomalies, or areas of ambiguity that emerged during the course of your study. Consider how these unanswered questions or unresolved issues could serve as catalysts for future research endeavors, prompting further investigation into related phenomena, alternative explanations, or novel research methodologies.

Reflect on the limitations of your study as starting points for future research. Acknowledge any constraints, biases, or methodological shortcomings that may have influenced the outcomes or interpretations of your study. Discuss how these limitations provide opportunities for future research to refine methodologies, address confounding variables, or explore alternative theoretical frameworks. Consider how addressing these limitations could enhance the validity, reliability, and generalizability of future research findings within your field.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about the potential trajectory of your research topic, consider the following key points:

  • Suggest areas where further investigation could be fruitful.
  • Discuss unexplored questions that arose from your research.
  • Reflect on the limitations of your study as starting points for future research.

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master thesis oral defense questions

How to write a unique thesis acknowledgement (+ FAQs)

  • Graduate School

40 Thesis Defense Questions

40 Thesis Defense Questions

Practicing answering thesis defense questions in a mock thesis defense is the best way to get ready for this challenging step in your academic career. Aside from knowing your research project inside and out, you must have solid strategies for tackling different question types and talking about why you chose your research topic. You might have already answered questions related to your research interests in your research interest statement and grad school interview questions , but now after years for in-depth study, it's time to really test what you have accomplished! Check out some of the hardest thesis defense questions below and read our expert responses!

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 11 min read

What to expect in a thesis defense.

A thesis defense is your chance to demonstrate your in-depth knowledge and expertise in the topic of your research thesis. While you will be able to take charge of the narrative and present your research to those on your thesis committee, the professors will prod you to test how well you know and understand your topic. The questions are mostly open-ended and give you the chance to showcase your knowledge and understanding, as well as any future plans you may have regarding your research topic.

A thesis defense usually lasts between one and two hours, depending on the area of your research. It starts with you giving a presentation of your interest, findings, and conclusions. After you have finished, the committee members will ask you questions based not only on your presentation, but also on your written thesis as they will have read it before your presentation. Lastly, the committee might approve your thesis or suggest changes to your paper.

Preparing thesis defense questions requires you to start well in advance. While the duration of your thesis defense might vary as per your institution's requirements, the major idea is to defend your research. Thus, you should go about preparing for your thesis defense questions by taking the following steps.

Interested in a quick overview of the section below? Check out this infographic:

Re-read your thesis for clarity

Your thesis defense questions will be based on what you have written in your research paper. Hence, it is a good idea to re-read your paper. You should be clear on the concepts and understand your research well. It might have been some time since you would have submitted your paper, so a revision should be the starting point of your preparation.  

Have an answer strategy and structure

Plan a strategy to answer the panel’s questions. Keep your answers direct, but elaborate on the research details wherever necessary. If you do not know the answer to a question, that is alright. The key is to be able to formulate an answer even if you do not possess enough knowledge to answer at that point in time. For instance, if a question is about the content of your research, you can say something like “I am not certain my research touches on the question you are asking, but my research has led me to Dr. X. Based his evidence, I would have to conclude that…” Having a strategy for answering even the most unexpected questions can be a life saver in these situations!

Most of the thesis defense questions can be easily predicted based on your research. You can prepare a list of possible questions when you are going through your paper. Getting to know the committee can help you in preparing better. Their areas of expertise can help you in determining what they might ask. Once you have a list of questions, you can start brainstorming how you might answer them. 

Prepare your slides in advance

If you require visual aids such as slides, it is a good idea to prepare them beforehand. You can double-check the slides and make sure that your presentation will run smoothly on the day of your thesis defense. Make sure your slides are arranged in the correct order. 

Attend a thesis defense of other candidates if it is an open event

If your institution allows it, you can visit a thesis defense of other candidates. This will give you an excellent idea of what you can expect in your meeting. If it is not possible to attend the event, you can speak to your peers to find out how their meeting went and what questions were asked.

Dress appropriately for your meeting

The thesis defense meeting is a formal event, and hence you should be dressed in formal clothes. While there are no strict dressing rules, you should consider it something equivalent to a job interview. Don’t just wear your T-shirt and appear in front of the committee. Your formal suit is a better option for the occasion.

Practice speaking for your meeting

Take your preparation to the next level by practicing your presentation. This activity will give you the confidence for the actual meeting and presentation. You can request your academic peers to help you out in the practice task. Based on their feedback in the mock session, you can improve for the actual session. Make sure to prepare well for the mock session as if you are preparing for the actual session. You can also practice your speech and body language in the mock session. If you used thesis writing services , these professionals would also be the ideal people to test you in a mock thesis defense – don’t hesitate to reach out to them again!

Sample Thesis Defense Questions and Answers

1.    what is your research study all about.

In your answer, you should summarize your research in a few sentences. The question is simple but requires technical expertise for a better explanation of concepts. For instance, if you completed a thesis in an attempt to explain the constituents of dark matter in the universe and particle accelerators, you could frame your answer like this:

In this research, the different aspects of dark matter and its detection models have been investigated. The cosmic ray positron excess observed by the PAMELA detector has been discussed and explained through the construction of models of decaying dark matter. The cosmic-ray electron and positron spectra were studied assuming a general Dirac structure for the four fermion contact interactions of interest. A supersymmetric leptophilic Higgs model was constructed to explain the possible excess of gamma rays in the galactic center. Finally, by the use of Razor analysis, an improvement on the dark matter collider searches is considered.  

2.    Why did you choose this study?

This question requires you to answer what motivated you to pursue the study in the first place. Your answers could touch on your interests in the area of the study. For example, if you conducted a study called “Media Combat: The Great War and the Transformation of American Culture” then you can shape your answer like this:

The First World War (1914-1918) has always been a topic of fascination for me, and my prime interest lies in exploring the state of society at that time. I wanted to analyze the formation of a nationalized, wartime cultural apparatus during the United States' involvement in the war and how theatre and music transformed the relationship between the government and American citizens. 

3.    Why did you choose this particular title for your research?

The title of your thesis captures the main point of your research, which is why it is so important to use an appropriate title. Your committee will want to know how you came to the final decision of naming your work. For example,

I chose the title “Dark matter in the heavens and at colliders: Models and constraints” for my research thesis because my research attempts to explain the constituency of dark matter as it occurs in the universe. “The heavens” is another word for the universe. Dark matter can also be created in particle accelerators such as the CERN collider. I have attempted to provide an explanation for both of the cases through the use of models, along with describing the constraints which exist in the current times due to certain scientific limitations.

4.    What is the scope of your study?

In your answer, you have to define the boundaries of your project and define exactly what you are studying. There can be several elements involved but you have to define the parameters that you have chosen to study. For example,

My study is on the efficacy of equity stocks in the US market. For my study, I have chosen 50 companies listed on the NASDAQ. You can review the names of these companies on page 5 of my thesis.

5.    What phenomenon were you trying to understand with this research?

Describe the focus concept of your thesis in the answer. For example,

In our study “Motivation to volunteer”, we were looking to study the Theory of Planned Behavior by analyzing the behavioral and normative beliefs that influence attitudes and subjective norms.

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6.    Who will be most interested in your research?

You can talk about who may be affected by your research and the parties who can potentially benefit from the research. Take a look at this example:

My sociology thesis on “Impact of social media on youngsters” can be of interest to sociology academics, social media companies, education experts, and parents of youngsters in general.

7.    Did your research questions evolve during the process? If so, how?

Often, qualitative research questions change over time with respect to the responses that you might get from your focus group. Or you might just change your question as you do lab research or general text research. You can describe the change to the evaluating committee. For example,

We started our study to understand the impact of the new public policy change on recycling of vinyl waste through installation of garbage bins specifically for vinyl products. However, after interviewing some of the respondents in the target community, we found that the rule is actually irrelevant to their behavior and thoughts because the percentage of vinyl waste in that specific locality was very low and it didn’t need the installation of dedicated bins for the purpose. Going by their frustrations with the current economic insecurity, our study evolved into the impact of costs incurred by public policy changes.           

8.    What gaps did you intend to bridge with your research?

Your research thesis must eliminate the present gaps in the concepts related to your subject topic.

The relationship between hard water and its effect on the size of the kidney stone is not clear yet, so we analyzed the mineral composition of hard water to determine its impact on the size of the kidney stone.

9.    Why is your research significant?

The answer to this research question should outline the impact of your research on your field of study. You may talk about the new insights contributed by your research and its impact on society.

Through my study on “The effect of chamomile in reducing stress and promoting better sleep,” patients with insomnia and anxiety will be able to find alternative treatments without the use of medicinal drugs. The medical abilities of chamomile will promote the usage of ingredients in nature and will encourage the community to plant more herbs and trees.

10. What did you find in your research?

You may describe your research in a few sentences in this answer. For instance,

In our study on “Impact of artificial fluoride in water on the human body,” we found that excessive exposure to high quantities of Fluoride can result in tooth discoloration and bone issues in humans since it has neurotoxic qualities. 

11. What research findings surprised you?

When you conduct research, you come across findings that you were not expecting earlier. If you had such an experience, you might describe the same to the evaluation committee when you answer this question. For example,

I was expecting that business promotion through social media would not be a good idea for rural enterprises in developing countries in my comparative analysis of the usage of traditional and contemporary marketing methods. But I was surprised to learn that 68% of rural textile businesses in Nigeria promote their products on Instagram.

12. What is the validity of your findings?

You have to talk about the conditions in which your research findings would be valid.

In my research, I have considered test anxiety to be involving both nervous system activation and negative thoughts. Thus, my measure of test anxiety has included the elements of both nervous feelings and negative thoughts, the conditions in which my findings are valid.

For example,

For studying the differential protein expression, its localization, and distribution at different levels, we used the method of immunostaining in our research.

14. What sources did you use for data collection?

You would have used several sources to search for data for your topic. You may elaborate on those sources. You might have referred to databases, content on the web, or even conducted primary research by interviewing prospects. Thus, you can talk about these sources. Refer to the following answer:

To understand the impact of the current tax regime on skilled workers, we interviewed 150 subjects in 5 months. Additionally, we referred to databases and scholarly works available by authors who had previously conducted such studies for previous tax laws and rates. 

15. How can your research be put into practice?

This question talks about the practical implications of your research. You should talk about how your research is beneficial for society and how it can help in eliminating current issues.

In our research titled “Effectiveness of Meditation on Reducing the Anxiety Levels of College Students in the US,” we discovered that students who practiced meditation at least thrice a week were two times more likely to score better in their exams, owing to the positive impact of meditation. So, this research finding can help in the reduction of mental health issues among students. A suitable course of action would be to hold meditating sessions a couple of times a week. 

16. How will your findings contribute to the related area of knowledge?

Our study on medicinal analysis of herbs conveys information about various medicinal benefits of chamomile in treating depression and contributes to the area of medicinal botany.

17. Did you experience any limitations in your research?

Our research on “Impact of smoking on β-cell function and risk for type 2 diabetes in US citizens” finds that smoking increases the risk of diabetes among smokers. However, smokers might be affected by some genetic conditions which can protect them from diabetes. 

18. What sampling techniques did you use?

When conducting research, it is practically not possible to study the entire number of elements. So, you would be using a method to select a sample population.

In our study “Impact of consumption of soda on the health of teenagers in Corpus Christi”, we used area sampling to divide the city into several areas and then selected some clusters for our sample group.

19. What are the dependent and independent variables in your research?

In research, several variable factors impact your study. You can describe these variables. Independent variables have values which are not affected by other variables in your study. On the other hand, the dependent variables have values that change with changes in the independent variable. For example,

In our study on “Impact of online tutoring on test scores”, the independent variable is the nature of the classes i.e., online and the participants' test score is the dependent variable.

20. What areas do you suggest for further research?

As a researcher, you should be able to describe what further areas are open for research with the addition of your research to the field. This can act as a starting point for future researchers. For example,

In my research on “Effectiveness of Acetaminophen in treating sports induced injuries”, I discovered that administering Acetaminophen is not very effective for treating joint pains such as the knee. This further suggests measures for the regulation of Acetaminophen in the production of painkillers for body pain and the search for alternative compounds.

Practice Questions

After taking a look at the sample answers, now try answering these questions by yourself:

Do you have any closing comments? "}]">

After submitting your research thesis for evaluation, you have to appear before a panel of professors and present your work; afterwards, they will ask you questions about your research.

You have to plan and prepare for your thesis defense. Review your paper and anticipate the questions that the committee can ask. Practice with mock defense sessions using professional servicesand make improvements based on their feedback. Be prepared with a strategy for answering any question asked by the panel.

Your research thesis should be on a topic of your interest. Scan your course syllabus to find something that makes you curious. Or, you can even refer to your grad school career goals statement to review what got you interested in grad school in the first place. Shortlist a few topics and zero down to the one that excites you the most.

The first step in preparing for a master’s thesis defense is to revise your research paper and write down a list of questions that the committee might ask. Find answers to those questions and get ready for your presentation. Practice your presentation beforehand. Try to attend a thesis defense of other candidates to know what you can expect in your session. 

You will get questions related to what you have mentioned in your research paper. The most common starting questions are “what is your research about?" and “what was your motivation behind choosing this topic?” Later on, the committee asks you more detailed questions on research methodology, literature review, study variables, research findings, recommendations, and areas of further research.

You can get help from a grad school essay tutor for your research thesis writing. They can help you in developing writing skills and reviewing your work. They can proofread your work and provide recommendations on areas of improvement.

You can include your research thesis on your grad school CV to show your practical knowledge and skills. You can add the details of the study in a separate section for research experience.

Immediately after the thesis defense, the evaluation panel will decide whether to approve your paper as submitted or request some changes, or reject it.

To pass a thesis defense, a majority of the panel members must approve the defense. In case of more than one vote against you, you can fail the thesis.

A thesis defense can last for two hours or longer, depending on your area of research.

Your thesis defense presentation should include the focus concept, findings, recommendation, and conclusion.

The contribution of your thesis towards your degree differs as per institution. You can refer to your course handbook for exact details. In most cases, the committee needs to approve your thesis for you to graduate from your degree.

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why did you choose this place for a research locale

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Jeff! Yes, this can also be one of the questions you are asked in a thesis defense!

That is good

Hello Eshetu! Thanks for your comment. Glad you found this helpful!

Very helpful

Thanks, Abel. Glad you found this helpful. 

Helpful thank you.

Hi Lagat! Thanks!

As an 11th-grade student, I don't have any experience in thesis or research defense in general. Me and my groupmates will be conducting our research title defense next week, this is invaluable information for us. Thank you!

You are very welcome, Kate!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS, I REALLY APPRECIATE.

Hello Stephanie! Thanks for your comment.

EMELDA NAFULA NYONGESA

This is a good guideline to post graduate students (Masters and PhD) CPA:Emelda Nyongesa

Hi Emelda! Thanks!

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master thesis oral defense questions

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17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them

EditrixJD

A thesis defense gives you the chance to show off your thesis work and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study. During this one- to two-hour discussion with the members of your thesis committee, you'll have some control over how you present your research, but your committee will ask you some prodding questions to test your knowledge and preparedness. They will all have read your thesis beforehand, so their questions will relate to your study, topic, methods, data sample, and other aspects.

A good defense requires mastery of the thesis itself, so before you consider the questions you might face,

1. What is your topic, and why did you choose it?

Give a quick summary in just a few sentences on what you've researched. You could certainly go on for hours about your work, but make sure you prepare a way to give a very brief overview of your thesis. Then, give a quick background on your process for choosing this topic.

2. How does your topic contribute to the existing literature? How is it important?

Many researchers identify a need in the field and choose a topic to bridge the gaps that previous literature has failed to cover. For example, previous studies might not have included a certain population, region, or circumstance. Talk about how your thesis enhances the general understanding of the topic to extend the reach beyond what others have found, and then give examples of why the world needs that increased understanding. For instance, a thesis on romaine lettuce crops in desert climates might bring much-needed knowledge to a region that might not have been represented in previous work.

3. What are the key findings of your study?

When reporting your main results, make sure you have a handle on how detailed your committee wants you to be. Give yourself several options by preparing 1) a very general, quick summary of your findings that takes a minute or less, 2) a more detailed rundown of what your study revealed that is 3-5 minutes long, and 3) a 10- to 15-minute synopsis that delves into your results in detail. With each of these responses prepared, you can gauge which one is most appropriate in the moment, based on what your committee asks you and what has already been requested.

4. What type of background research did you do for your study?

Here you'll describe what you did while you were deciding what to study. This usually includes a literary review to determine what previous researchers have already introduced to the field. You also likely had to look into whether your study was going to be possible and what you would need in order to collect the needed data. Did you need info from databases that require permissions or fees?

5. What was your hypothesis, and how did you form it?

Describe the expected results you had for your study and whether your hypothesis came from previous research experience, long-held expectations, or cultural myths.

6. What limitations did you face when writing your text?

It's inevitable — researchers will face roadblocks or limiting factors during their work. This could be a limited population you had access to, like if you had a great method of surveying university students, but you didn't have a way to reach out to other people who weren't attending that school.

7. Why did you choose your particular method for your study?

Different research methods are more fitting to specific studies than others (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative ), and knowing this, you applied a method that would present your findings most effectively. What factors led you to choose your method?

8. Who formed the sample group of your study, and why did you choose this population?

Many factors go into the selection of a participant group. Perhaps you were motivated to survey women over 50 who experience burnout in the workplace. Did you take extra measures to target this population? Or perhaps you found a sample group that responded more readily to your request for participation, and after hitting dead ends for months, convenience is what shaped your study population. Make sure to present your reasoning in an honest but favorable way.

9. What obstacles or limitations did you encounter while working with your sample?

Outline the process of pursuing respondents for your study and the difficulties you faced in collecting enough quality data for your thesis. Perhaps the decisions you made took shape based on the participants you ended up interviewing.

10. Was there something specific you were expecting to find during your analysis?

Expectations are natural when you set out to explore a topic, especially one you've been dancing around throughout your academic career. This question can refer to your hypotheses , but it can also touch on your personal feelings and expectations about this topic. What did you believe you would find when you dove deeper into the subject? Was that what you actually found, or were you surprised by your results?

11. What did you learn from your study?

Your response to this question can include not only the basic findings of your work (if you haven't covered this already) but also some personal surprises you might have found that veered away from your expectations. Sometimes these details are not included in the thesis, so these details can add some spice to your defense.

12. What are the recommendations from your study?

With connection to the reasons you chose the topic, your results can address the problems your work is solving. Give specifics on how policymakers, professionals in the field, etc., can improve their service with the knowledge your thesis provides.

13. If given the chance, what would you do differently?

Your response to this one can include the limitations you encountered or dead ends you hit that wasted time and funding. Try not to dwell too long on the annoyances of your study, and consider an area of curiosity; for example, discuss an area that piqued your interest during your exploration that would have been exciting to pursue but didn't directly benefit your outlined study.

14. How did you relate your study to the existing theories in the literature?

Your paper likely ties your ideas into those of other researchers, so this could be an easy one to answer. Point out how similar your work is to some and how it contrasts other works of research; both contribute greatly to the overall body of research.

15. What is the future scope of this study?

This one is pretty easy, since most theses include recommendations for future research within the text. That means you already have this one covered, and since you read over your thesis before your defense, it's already fresh in your mind.

16. What do you plan to do professionally after you complete your study?

This is a question directed more to you and your future professional plans. This might align with the research you performed, and if so, you can direct your question back to your research, maybe mentioning the personal motivations you have for pursuing study of that subject.

17. Do you have any questions?

Although your thesis defense feels like an interrogation, and you're the one in the spotlight, it provides an ideal opportunity to gather input from your committee, if you want it. Possible questions you could ask are: What were your impressions when reading my thesis? Do you believe I missed any important steps or details when conducting my work? Where do you see this work going in the future?

Bonus tip: What if you get asked a question to which you don't know the answer? You can spend weeks preparing to defend your thesis, but you might still be caught off guard when you don't know exactly what's coming. You can be ready for this situation by preparing a general strategy. It's okay to admit that your thesis doesn't offer the answers to everything – your committee won't reasonably expect it to do so. What you can do to sound (and feel!) confident and knowledgeable is to refer to a work of literature you have encountered in your research and draw on that work to give an answer. For example, you could respond, "My thesis doesn't directly address your question, but my study of Dr. Leifsen's work provided some interesting insights on that subject…." By preparing a way to address curveball questions, you can maintain your cool and create the impression that you truly are an expert in your field.

After you're done answering the questions your committee presents to you, they will either approve your thesis or suggest changes you should make to your paper. Regardless of the outcome, your confidence in addressing the questions presented to you will communicate to your thesis committee members that you know your stuff. Preparation can ease a lot of anxiety surrounding this event, so use these possible questions to make sure you can present your thesis feeling relaxed, prepared, and confident.

Header image by Kasto .

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25 Thesis/Dissertation Defense Questions

December 17, 2023

When you’re considering going to graduate school , or you’re about to defend your master’s thesis or PhD dissertation, chances are you’ve come across something called the thesis defense. The thesis defense is arguably one of the most fundamental steps to take in order to attain your graduate degree. Each university will have its own tailored expectations of the thesis defense. Yet, as a whole, the thesis defense is an opportunity for you to demonstrate in front of the committee the extensive research you’ve completed and the critical skills you’ve developed. Due to the critical nature of the various thesis defense questions/dissertation defense questions you’ll be asked, it’s best to be prepared and practice with other students. Try to even attend a thesis defense if you can. Overall, consider the thesis defense as a chance to showcase how you’ll best contribute to that academic field of research.

The thesis defense can range from anywhere between one to two hours, depending on your program. As a whole, you’ll present how you decided to choose this topic of research, what you discovered, and what those findings led you to realize. The committee – those overseeing and critiquing your thesis defense – will then ask you a series of thesis defense questions, as well as your written thesis because they’ll have already read it by then. In most cases, by the end of the questioning, the committee will either decide to approve your thesis or give you possible suggestions on how to reapproach your research.

How to best prepare for thesis defense questions

Much like preparing for the GRE or deciding what graduate program you wanted to apply to at the beginning of your graduate academic journey, familiarizing yourself with what to expect on the day of your thesis defense will only lighten the burden. Whether you’re a new master’s student or considering how to pursue a PhD , it’s important to know ahead of time how to best prepare for the thesis defense questions. If you’re getting ready to defend the master’s thesis or prepare for dissertation defense questions, see how you can answer the following thesis defense questions that might come your way on the day of the presentation.

1)  What does your research focus on?

Be ready to state right away the synopsis of your research. Although it may seem like a simple, straightforward question, the committee will be looking to see the terminology you use when describing the focus of your research.

2) What influenced you to research this topic?

The committee will be interested in knowing what influenced you to choose this specific topic of research. What motivated you? Shape your answer in a way that reflects the field of study your topic of interest is in and the issues that stood out to you.

3) What does your study encompass and cover?

Consider the parameters and scope of your research for your thesis defense. By defining and delineating the grounds that you covered with your research, you will inform the committee with a better understanding of how you decided to focus on your topic of interest.

Thesis Defense Questions (Continued)

4) what was the goal of your research.

This question will surface often whether you are defending your master’s thesis or preparing for the dissertation defense questions. It’s important to state what your thesis meant to achieve. Think of what the core focus of your thesis is, and state how that was the driving factor in your research.

5) What were your expectations going into this research?

Describe how your hypothesis was formed. Were there any things you had expected or any preconceived notions you had on this topic before you pursued this research? Where did these expectations come from? Did any previous research affect the way you approached your thesis defense as a whole?

Defending a Thesis (Continued)

6) what did you study that made you want to conduct this research project.

This is a great opportunity for you to show what literature you reviewed that led you to pursue the research. Be ready to discuss the literary review of what has already been contributed to this field of study. Reflect on the realizations made when confronting certain data and if it was feasible for you to conduct your research given the existing contributions. Examining this type of literary review will serve you well during the following thesis defense questions.

7)  Who is the targeted audience for this research?

It will be important to state who the targeted audience is, or what types of people will be affected by your research. Will these particular parties benefit from your research? How will they be affected? Consider not just the targeted audience, but also those in parallel groups who may be impacted by your findings.

8)  Why did you choose this title for your research? – thesis defense questions

The way you have named and titled your research will convey what you consider most important to the committee. What does your research try to explain in the given title? Is there a reason you chose the specific words in your title to convey a main point? The committee will want to see the intentionality of every word here and how it relates back to your research.

9)  How did you conduct your research questions and did your approach change?

While you were preparing and conducting your research, you might have found that your research questions were changing, depending on the sample you were studying. Oftentimes, if you are utilizing qualitative research methodology, the types of qualitative questions may change based on the answer. How did that change affect your research process? Did you have to shift your approach to the subject matter or reconsider focus groups?

10)  What impact does your research have on the existing literature?

Reflect on how your research made a contribution to the overall understanding of the field at hand. Think of why this was necessary and state that concisely. This will trickle into other thesis defense questions.

11)  Did you address any gaps in the field of your research?

Answering this thesis defense question will show how significant the findings of your research are. The goal of anyone’s research is to fill in the gaps of a field. Why did the pre-existing literature not suffice to address the focus of your research?

12)  What did you come across during your research?

It helps to have options of how you’ll convey this. Try to be prepared to summarize in detail, within a minute, what your findings were. Then see what you can paraphrase in 5 minutes. How about in 10 minutes? Doing so will assist you in identifying the most relevant piece of information based on how the committee asks you this thesis defense question.

13)  Did you find anything unexpected or surprising during your research process? – thesis defense questions

This would be a good opportunity for you to state how any surprises you came across helped you make certain decisions about your research. While you defend the master’s thesis and think of how you’ll prepare for the PhD dissertation defense questions, this is a “curveball” moment that demonstrates how you took charge of the challenge presented and continued your research despite what you had confronted.

14)  Under what parameters is your research valid?

Parameters were mentioned in question 3 above, but consider the specific conditions that would need to be in place for your findings to be valid. What are the elements that would have to be in place? Be ready to identify these during this thesis defense question.

15)  What were the challenges when conducting your research?

Were there any roadblocks you faced when gathering your data? Did you have to reconsider your research methodology at all? Identifying this will help the committee understand the direction and trajectory of your research.

16)  What were the challenges when working with your subject matter?

If you were interviewing people, did the focus groups not adhere to what you had asked them to do? Why? Walk the committee through your approach here.

17)  Why did you choose the research methodology that you chose?

While you’re defending the master’s thesis or answering dissertation defense questions, you’ll be asked specific questions about your research methodology. Was it qualitative? Quantitative? Why? What made you believe that this would be the most effective way to conduct your research?

18)  How did you form your hypothesis?

Tie back in your expectations for your research and consider what you thought the expected results would be for this thesis defense question. Were there any factors, both past or recent, that had helped shape your hypothesis?

19)  How did you gather the data to conduct your research and what sources did you use?

Recount what steps you took to decide how to access the data. Did certain libraries offer more resources? Was there any censorship that you came across that posed as a roadblock to collecting data?

20)  What are the practical implications of your research?

For both master’s and PhD students, this is always an important thesis defense question to keep in mind. In life outside of the academic institution, how will your research be of practical use to society? It’s a question that most graduate students ask about themselves before graduating, so it’s best to know how to answer this one about your research!

21)  How did you decide what samples to study in the research you found? What was your approach in using sample groups?

For example, if you used sample or focus groups, how did you go about selecting these groups? How did you get access to the data here? Don’t be hesitant to state the challenges you might have faced while doing so. As long as you frame it in a way that helps provide a more intricate portrait of the trajectory of your research, you’re on the right path.

22)  What are the independent and dependent variables in your research?

Use this thesis defense question to show how balanced your research methodology was by naming the different factors. How did the independent variables affect how the dependent variables changed?

Dissertation Defense Questions (Continued)

23)  considering your contribution to this field of research, where else would require further research what more needs to be done in this field.

As a master’s student defending your master’s thesis or as a PhD candidate preparing for your dissertation defense questions, you are already a researcher. And as a researcher, you must present what else must be done in your field of research on top of what you’ve accomplished. What does your research further suggest?

24)  What did you ultimately gather from your research? What did you learn during and after the process? – thesis defense questions 

Aside from stating your findings as a whole, this would be a good moment to express if you found anything significant outside of your thesis that you hadn’t expected. Was there something you learned while gathering your data or writing up your text that you never thought you’d come across?

25)  After you complete your degree, what do you want to pursue professionally?

It’s not uncommon for master’s or PhD students to not know exactly what they want to do once they graduate. But for this last thesis defense question, it’s good to have a solid answer that will tie back into the research you’ve done. Do you have further research plans in this field? Do you want to pursue a profession that would enable this and strengthen the practical reality of it?

Thesis Defense Questions – Additional Resources

We hope you found this list of common thesis defense questions useful as you prepare for defending your thesis. Other articles that you may find relevant include:

  • Top Feeders to PhD Programs
  • Do You Need a Master’s to get a PhD?
  • How to Write a Grad School Statement of Purpose
  • Graduate School Admissions

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With a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from University College London, Joanna has worked in London, Berlin, and Los Angeles covering many cultural and political issues with organizations such as Byline Media, NK News, and Free Turkey Media. A freelancer for The New York Times, her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Dazed and Confused Magazine, and The Guardian, among others. In addition, Joanna was the recipient of the 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship in Fiction and is currently completing her first novel.

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How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

What is a thesis defense?

How long is a thesis defense, what happens at a thesis defense, your presentation, questions from the committee, 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense, 1. anticipate questions and prepare for them, 2. dress for success, 3. ask for help, as needed, 4. have a backup plan, 5. prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer, 6. de-stress before, during, and after, frequently asked questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense, related articles.

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at finishyourthesis.com notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.

master thesis oral defense questions

Grad Coach

Preparing For Your Dissertation Defense

13 Key Questions To Expect In The Viva Voce

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) & David Phair (PhD) . Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2021

Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a “viva voce”) is a formidable task . All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you’ll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you’ve encountered so far.

It’s natural to feel a little nervous.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important questions you should be able to answer in your viva voce, whether it’s for a Masters or PhD degree. Naturally, they might not arise in exactly the same form (some may not come up at all), but if you can answer these questions well, it means you’re in a good position to tackle your oral defense.

Dissertation and thesis defense 101

Viva Voce Prep: 13 Essential Questions

  • What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?
  • How did your research questions evolve during the research process?
  • How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?
  • How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?
  • How generalisable and valid are the findings?
  • What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?
  • How did your findings relate to the existing literature?
  • What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?
  • Were there any findings that surprised you?
  • What biases may exist in your research?
  • How can your findings be put into practice?
  • How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?
  • If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

#1: What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?

This question, a classic party starter, is pretty straightforward.

What the dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to clearly articulate your research aims, objectives and research questions in a concise manner. Concise is the keyword here – you need to clearly explain your research topic without rambling on for a half-hour. Don’t feel the need to go into the weeds here – you’ll have many opportunities to unpack the details later on.

In the second half of the question, they’re looking for a brief explanation of the justification of your research. In other words, why was this particular set of research aims, objectives and questions worth addressing? To address this question well in your oral defense, you need to make it clear what gap existed within the research and why that gap was worth filling.

#2: How did your research questions evolve during the research process?

Good research generally follows a long and winding path . It’s seldom a straight line (unless you got really lucky). What they’re assessing here is your ability to follow that path and let the research process unfold.

Specifically, they’ll want to hear about the impact that the literature review process had on you in terms of shaping the research aims, objectives and research questions . For example, you may have started with a certain set of aims, but then as you immersed yourself in the literature, you may have changed direction. Similarly, your initial fieldwork findings may have turned out some unexpected data that drove you to adjust or expand on your initial research questions.

Long story short – a good defense involves clearly describing your research journey , including all the twists and turns. Adjusting your direction based on findings in the literature or the fieldwork shows that you’re responsive , which is essential for high-quality research.

You will need to explain the impact of your literature review in the defense

#3: How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?

A comprehensive literature review is the foundation of any high-quality piece of research. With this question, your dissertation or thesis committee are trying to assess which quality criteria and approach you used to select the sources for your literature review.

Typically, good research draws on both the seminal work in the respective field and more recent sources . In other words, a combination of the older landmark studies and pivotal work, along with up-to-date sources that build on to those older studies. This combination ensures that the study has a rock-solid foundation but is not out of date.

So, make sure that your study draws on a mix of both the “classics” and new kids on the block, and take note of any major evolutions in the literature that you can use as an example when asked this question in your viva voce.

#4: How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?

This is a classic methodological question that you can almost certainly expect in some or other shape.

What they’re looking for here is a clear articulation of the research design and methodology, as well as a strong justification of each choice . So, you need to be able to walk through each methodological choice and clearly explain both what you did and why you did it. The why is particularly important – you need to be able to justify each choice you made by clearly linking your design back to your research aims, objectives and research questions, while also taking into account practical constraints.

To ensure you cover every base, check out our research methodology vlog post , as well as our post covering the Research Onion .

You have to justify every choice in your dissertation defence

#5: How generalizable and valid are the findings?

This question is aimed at specifically digging into your understanding of the sample and how that relates to the population, as well as potential validity issues in your methodology.

To answer question this well, you’ll need to critically assess your sample and findings and consider if they truly apply to the entire population, as well as whether they assessed what they set out to. Note that there are two components here – generalizability and validity . Generalizability is about how well the sample represents the population. Validity is about how accurately you’ve measured what you intended to measure .

To ace this part of your dissertation defense, make sure that you’re very familiar with the concepts of generalizability , validity and reliability , and how these apply to your research. Remember, you don’t need to achieve perfection – you just need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your research (and how the weaknesses could be improved upon).

Need a helping hand?

master thesis oral defense questions

#6: What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?

This question picks up where the last one left off.

As I mentioned, it’s perfectly natural that your research will have shortcomings and limitations as a result of your chosen design and methodology. No piece of research is flawless. Therefore, a good dissertation defense is not about arguing that your work is perfect, but rather it’s about clearly articulating the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.

To address this question well, you need to think critically about all of the potential weaknesses your design may have, as well as potential responses to these (which could be adopted in future research) to ensure you’re well prepared for this question. For a list of common methodological limitations, check out our video about research limitations here .

#7: How did your findings relate to the existing literature?

This common dissertation defense question links directly to your discussion chapter , where you would have presented and discussed the findings in relation to your literature review.

What your dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to compare your study’s findings to the findings of existing research . Specifically, you need to discuss which findings aligned with existing research and which findings did not. For those findings that contrasted against existing research, you should also explain what you believe to be the reasons for this.

As with many questions in a viva voce, it’s both the what and the why that matter here. So, you need to think deeply about what the underlying reasons may be for both the similarities and differences between your findings and those of similar studies.

Your dissertation defense needs to compare findings

#8: What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?

This question is similar to the last one in that it too focuses on your research findings. However, here the focus is specifically on the findings that directly relate to your research questions (as opposed to findings in general).

So, a good way to prepare for this question is to step back and revisit your research questions . Ask yourself the following:

  • What exactly were you asking in those questions, and what did your research uncover concerning them?
  • Which questions were well answered by your study and which ones were lacking?
  • Why were they lacking and what more could be done to address this in future research?

Conquering this part dissertation defense requires that you focus squarely on the research questions. Your study will have provided many findings (hopefully!), and not all of these will link directly to the research questions. Therefore, you need to clear your mind of all of the fascinating side paths your study may have lead you down and regain a clear focus on the research questions .

#9: Were there any findings that surprised you?

This question is two-pronged.

First, you should discuss the surprising findings that were directly related to the original research questions . Going into your research, you likely had some expectations in terms of what you would find, so this is your opportunity to discuss the outcomes that emerged as contrary to what you initially expected. You’ll also want to think about what the reasons for these contrasts may be.

Second, you should discuss the findings that weren’t directly related to the research questions, but that emerged from the data set . You may have a few or you may have none – although generally there are a handful of interesting musings that you can glean from the data set. Again, make sure you can articulate why you find these interesting and what it means for future research in the area.

What the committee is looking for in this type of question is your ability to interpret the findings holistically and comprehensively , and to respond to unexpected data. So, take the time to zoom out and reflect on your findings thoroughly.

Discuss the findings in your defense

#10: What biases may exist in your research?

Biases… we all have them.

For this question, you’ll need to think about potential biases in your research , in the data itself but also in your interpretation of the data. With this question, your committee is assessing whether you have considered your own potential biases and the biases inherent in your analysis approach (i.e. your methodology). So, think carefully about these research biases and be ready to explain how these may exist in your study.

In an oral defense, this question is often followed up with a question on how the biases were mitigated or could be mitigated in future research. So, give some thought not just to what biases may exist, but also the mitigation measures (in your own study and for future research).

#11: How can your findings be put into practice?

Another classic question in the typical viva voce.

With this question, your committee is assessing your ability to bring your findings back down to earth and demonstrate their practical value and application. Importantly, this question is not about the contribution to academia or the overall field of research (we’ll get to that next) – it is specifically asking about how this newly created knowledge can be used in the real world.

Naturally, the actionability of your findings will vary depending on the nature of your research topic. Some studies will produce many action points and some won’t. If you’re researching marketing strategies within an industry, for example, you should be able to make some very specific recommendations for marketing practitioners in that industry.

To help you flesh out points for this question, look back at your original justification for the research (i.e. in your introduction and literature review chapters). What were the driving forces that led you to research your specific topic? That justification should help you identify ways in which your findings can be put into practice.

#12: How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?

While the previous question was aimed at practical contribution, this question is aimed at theoretical contribution . In other words, what is the significance of your study within the current body of research? How does it fit into the existing research and what does it add to it?

This question is often asked by a field specialist and is used to assess whether you’re able to place your findings into the research field to critically convey what your research contributed. This argument needs to be well justified – in other words, you can’t just discuss what your research contributed, you need to also back each proposition up with a strong why .

To answer this question well, you need to humbly consider the quality and impact of your work and to be realistic in your response. You don’t want to come across as arrogant (“my work is groundbreaking”), nor do you want to undersell the impact of your work. So, it’s important to strike the right balance between realistic and pessimistic .

This question also opens the door to questions about potential future research . So, think about what future research opportunities your study has created and which of these you feel are of the highest priority.

Discuss your contribution in your thesis defence

#13: If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

This question is often used to wrap up a viva voce as it brings the discussion full circle.

Here, your committee is again assessing your ability to clearly identify and articulate the limitations and shortcomings of your research, both in terms of research design and topic focus . Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been better to use a different analysis method or data set. Perhaps the research questions should have leaned in a slightly different direction. And so on.

This question intends to assess whether you’re able to look at your work critically , assess where the weaknesses are and make recommendations for the future . This question often sets apart those who did the research purely because it was required, from those that genuinely engaged with their research. So, don’t hold back here – reflect on your entire research journey ask yourself how you’d do things differently if you were starting with a  blank canvas today.

Recap: The 13 Key Dissertation Defense Questions

To recap, here are the 13 questions you need to be ready for to ace your dissertation or thesis oral defense:

As I mentioned, this list of dissertation defense questions is certainly not exhaustive – don’t assume that we’ve covered every possible question here. However, these questions are quite likely to come up in some shape or form in a typical dissertation or thesis defense, whether it’s for a Master’s degree, PhD or any other research degree. So, you should take the time to make sure you can answer them well.

If you need assistance preparing for your dissertation defense or viva voce, get in touch with us to discuss 1-on-1 coaching. We can critically review your research and identify potential issues and responses, as well as undertake a mock oral defense to prepare you for the pressures and stresses on the day.

master thesis oral defense questions

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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12 Comments

Jalla Dullacha

Very interesting

Fumtchum JEFFREY

Interesting. I appreciate!

Dargo Haftu

Really appreciating

My field is International Trade

Abera Gezahegn

Interesting

Peter Gumisiriza

This is a full course on defence. I was fabulously enlightened and I gained enough confidence for my upcoming Masters Defence.

There are many lessons to learn and the simplicity in presentationmakes thee reader say “YesI can”

Milly Nalugoti

This is so helping… it has Enlightened me on how to answer specific questions. I pray to make it through for my upcoming defense

Derek Jansen

Lovely to hear that 🙂

bautister

Really educative and beneficial

Tweheyo Charles

Interesting. On-point and elaborate. And comforting too! Thanks.

Ismailu Kulme Emmanuel

Thank you very much for the enlightening me, be blessed

Gladys Oyat

Thankyou so much. I am planning to defend my thesis soon and I found this very useful

Augustine Mtega

Very interesting and useful to all masters and PhD students

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How to Write a Thesis

Oral Defense preparation, techniques, templates, best answers

  • Post author By admin
  • Post date November 9, 2016

Oral Defense

Oral defense occurs towards the end of research journey. You have finished your thesis.  Your advisor is happy with it.  Your committee may or may not have approved it depending on your program.  Now, you have to stand up in front of everyone else.  They are people you might or might not have known before the defense.  Your task is to show what you have done.  Your task is to provide evidence that you are an expert in the thesis or dissertation topic.  You did it, not someone else.  As a result, you can handle any question in this field of study.  You will be able to discuss every part of it and show you knew what you were doing.  The objective of the defense is to prove you are an expert in your thesis topic.

How do you prepare for the defense?  You need to prepare a short presentation that will be discussed in the following section.  This presentation needs to be easy, clear, understandable, and short.  Make sure you get to the point that highlights your research journey.  It should provide evidence that you know the topic well, and you can smoothly explain what you did in your research.  You also need to be able to discuss the findings and conclusions.  More importantly, you should be able to answer questions from the committee.

What will the committee ask you in your defense?  Many questions can come up in your defense.  The best way to prepare for it is to make a good thesis at the beginning.  If you do not know what you are doing, then it is difficult or impossible to prepare for the defense.  However, most programs and advisors will not let that happen.

Common Oral Defense comments

If you break the questions into categories, they will be as follows:

  • Technical Questions: These will be issues with your thesis writing style, formatting, numbering, tables, figures, missing pages, authors, or paragraphs.
  • Literature Questions: “Did you check the findings of Author X?”  This is a very difficult question if you’ve excluded the research of a key player in your research topic.  You cannot talk credibly about certain topics without knowing its key contributors.  Make sure to follow your model journal article and its references.
  • Methodology Questions: These questions check your measurement tool reliability.  Did your survey measure the different variables effectively?  It can also include questions about sample issues including size, selection, representation, pilot study , participants, etc.  Make sure you understand your methodology, and why you used it.
  • Analysis Questions: “You mentioned ‘X’, but why is that a factor?” These questions occur when you focus too much on the trees and you miss the forest.  If your analysis is too long, and you repeat it too much, you will fall into this trap. Keep your analysis short, simple, and to the point.  Nothing else.
  • Conclusions Questions: “So if you were in this position, what would you do?”  This can be a tricky question since the position described can be a real application of your study, yet the correct answer should come from your conclusions. It would be funny if you recommend doing things differently from what you advised in your thesis when facing this question.
  • Generalization Questions: It is important your study generalization is explained in your defense, and will likely be challenged if you say it is generalized.
  • Limitations Questions: Any weakness in your study becomes a limitation in the study.  You have to be brave to show and discuss your study weaknesses.  At the moment, you may feel that you did a poor job, but it is OK.  In fact, it is purely normal.  It is just an exercise.
  • Reality Questions: Questions that have nothing to do with your research but rather has to do with the field of study in general. The person who asks you this question probably has some knowledge about the topic and wants to get your opinion.

Oral Defense Best Answers

What is the best answer in a defense?  “That is a very important point. I will reflect it in my study.”  During the defense, you will likely hear several common comments.  For example, “This does not make sense.”  “This needs to be changed.”  “This is not accurate.”  “This is not correct.”  In each of these cases, you may clarify your opinion.  Nevertheless, if you clarify your opinion once, and the other party does not buy it, then it is safe for you to say, “I will investigate and fix my thesis if necessary.”

During the defense, the committee wants you to graduate but before that, they want you to learn a bit more and the defense is their last chance to help you learn before you graduate.  So give them that chance.  Thank them for their contributions and help given since the beginning of the program.

When do people fail during the defense?  The main reason is the failure to get your advisor’s OK.  The committee may argue the advisor should fail you if you have misled him or her.  The only reason you could fail that I can think of is an ethical violation.  You just have to follow the rules.

Oral Defense Presentation

During your defense, you may be able to use a power point presentation to go over your thesis or dissertation.  The program may already have a template that students ought to use for their presentation.  If so, the template should include parts required by the program.  Just fill it in.

It is suggested to keep the presentation short.  Use short sentences or just keywords that remind you of what you will be talking about.  You should sound like an expert in your presentation.  You are expected to have memorized the name of the author of your model journal article.  You should know the theory you are basing your study on inside out.  You have memorized some of the key findings of your study. This is because you have spent a good time studying them.

Some of the facts you want to mention in your presentation include the reason for selecting the topic.  What makes this topic relevant to you on a personal level?  What surprised you during your research process?  What findings did you not expect that emerged and what does it mean?  Did that affect your research study?

Your responses should be short and in relation to your study.  Do not overdo it.  What you should overdo though is your methodology and data collection.  At least half of your presentation should be discussing your work, not anyone else’s.

Oral Defense Templates

Based on most common presentation templates, you will have to do an introduction to your thesis, where you will tell the audience what is going to be covered in your presentation.  Then you will provide background on your topic and conclude it with your problem statement.  Next, you will need to discuss why your problem statement is important.  Then you will provide the research questions.  After that, you can talk about what others have done to answer these questions.  Do not repeat your literature review.  Just briefly highlight a few.  Then get into what you did.  As you discuss your methodology, your tools, and your techniques, you can also refer to the relevant literature review.

What you did in the research project is the most important part of your presentation.  The audience wants to make sure that it is your work, and you understand what you did.  The presentation should prove that well. 16

As you discuss your methodology, you will provide your findings and conclusions.  In addition, you probably are going to include references from the literature.  Do not worry if you go back and forth between the chapters.  The objective is to show all of your work during your presentation time.

It is always good to have figures or graphs that contain a lot of information on one screen.  It also serves well during the defense to have your findings on one slide.  If you have lots of information,  consider printing it and hanging it on flip charts for easy reference.

Oral Defense Techniques

Using flip charts offers a communication advantage during your defense.  If your topic includes many similar components such as the analysis that generates different results, and the audience may be confused by which data belongs to which analysis, you may want to put each analysis on a separate flip chart.  Therefore, they can point to the analysis they will discuss with you.

You may consider having every slide on a large piece of paper posted on the wall in order of your presentation.  So, if someone asks you a question, you stand next to that post and discuss it.  It also allows you to write on that slide, which may put an end to a comment brought by the committee.  This also reduces confusion when you have to find a specific slide during the discussion.

Part of your presentation is to prepare for the defense.  It is advisable to attend one before it’s your turn.  Ask your advisor or your program coordinator how to attend a defense.  It will motivate you and will provide valuable experience on what could be asked during yours.   There are frequently asked questions during defense and they can be even more specific in your program.  Different programs have a strategic plan for their program quality.  Therefore, if you ask those before you about their experiences, there is a good chance you will get very similar, if not exactly the same common questions.

After your defense, you can celebrate with your family and friends.  However, it is probably not the end of the journey.  Sometimes, you are still not entitled to the degree.  There is a good chance you will still have to address the comments by your committee.  You will probably still have to consult with your advisor to see if you have fixed them properly and contact the committee to approve you for the degree.

master thesis oral defense questions

master thesis oral defense questions

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50 Top Thesis Defense Questions With Answers(2023)

This blog article contains all the possible thesis defense questions that can be applied to all departments.

                                                                                                                                                                    

Do you have an upcoming thesis defense and you have been wandering the kind of questions your professors will ask you

Click to Read: Navigating Your Thesis Defense: Common Thesis Defense Questions and How to Prepare

Top 25 Likely Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense

Do you have the ability to briefly describe the purpose of your study to us?

Right, the query is straightforward.

Most students choke on a topic like this, as many professors will attest to.

In any case, the question is simple but a little complicated.

You need to comprehend every aspect of your scientific study, starting with chapter one, to respond to this question.

To ace this particular topic, you would want to comprehend every aspect of your abstract because the question requires a reply that functions as a sort of summary of the entire subject.

If your abstract was truthful, this question will be a cross-over for you.

What inspired you to conduct this research?

You now need to exercise caution.

These questions are frequently highly challenging, and it helps greatly in persuading your panel that your study is worth their time.

What’s THE RESEARCH PROBLEM is another way to phrase this query.

You’ll want to go into more detail on the subject of the study as you respond to this.

You become motivated by your enthusiasm to find a solution to this issue.

Don’t use the need to graduate or financial constraints as motivations since you’ll quickly lose your audience.

3. How will this research add to the body of knowledge?

When the need for explanation arises, you will be required to explain how your study, if allowed, will add to the body of available evidence.

Here, you’ll get to defend it using your research methodologies, a case study, or any special models or conceptual frameworks that were used in the study.

4 What is the study’s significance?

You will get to discuss the significance of your study in the same way that you will discuss how it will add to the body of knowledge.

In your response, you should emphasise how your study will benefit organisations and society as a whole, how it will assist the government in developing and implementing policies, and how it will benefit other students who might want to research the subject.

5. Did you fill in any gaps in your research?

Every research project needs to have a challenge.

You receive all of the points allotted for answering this question because of your abilities to solve this puzzle and research topics that have not yet been studied.

You must be prepared to persuade the committee members that your method is unique and that it addressed areas where other researchers haven’t done a lot of work.

6. What restrictions did you face? 

Another easy but challenging question is this one. Most of the time, the question is asked to criticise your work rather than to feel sorry for you.

You should use caution when responding to this question to avoid implicating yourself. Be careful not to sell yourself short.

Discussing your approach or data analysis constraints could imply that your paper is prejudiced or poorly researched, therefore avoid doing so.

Instead of limiting your studies, use minor constraints like the challenges associated with juggling projects and lectures.

7. What conclusions have you reached?

You now need to clearly and succinctly present your study’s outcomes or findings.

Always relate your conclusions to the goals and/or questions of your research.

Your panel members will become passive as a result.

What techniques or methods did you use for sampling?

You need to be familiar with your research approach to responding to this question.

You must have access to your chapter three (in Most Projects).

Your ability to defend your sample size and methodology will be greatly rewarded in this situation.

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8. Why did you select this approach?

As was already mentioned, you should not just describe the study’s methodology.

Additionally, you must be prepared and able to convincingly defend your decision to use the tactic.

You are currently free to cite sources or studies that used similar methodologies.

9. What recommendations do you make in support of your findings?

Every research study needs recommendations, and they won’t be taken lightly.

In essence, you should be able to recall your recommendations.

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10. Regarding your findings, what areas of study will you recommend for the future?

Just to be sure you’re thinking clearly and are an authority in your field of study, questions like these exist.

You should be prepared to offer additional research areas related to your subject based on your conclusions from a manageable scope of the study.

One legitimate subject for additional research, for instance, would be other types of taxation, such as VAT, Company tax, etc., if I looked into the difficulties of collecting private taxes in Cameroon.

11. What practical applications may your research work lead to?

The majority of management and social science projects are more abstract, making them a little more challenging for management and social science students than science and engineering students.

But you should make an effort to be reasonable in this situation.

Relate your research to contemporary trends in your home, workplace, industry, polity, institutions of higher learning, etc.

You’ll get points for using pertinent examples and illustrations in this situation.

13. How would you briefly characterise your study for a practitioner in ?

14 What would you change if you were to rerun the research?

Hmmm. Be cautious! Avoid being overly merry. There is a gap in this! Similar to your restrictions, this question is frequently posed to identify your weaknesses.

What measurement instrument do you use?

What approach to data collecting did you take for the project, to put it simply?

Here, you specify whether surveys were given out or secondary sources were used to obtain the data.

for additional details about measuring devices.

16: What variables are you using in your research?

Here, you get to persuade the members of your panel that you merely are knowledgeable in the subject at hand.

To convince them that you are correct, you should explain your independent and dependent variable(s). Your project topic contains your variables.

To excel at your defence, you should be able to recognise these variables and know what they mean.

What are your research questions, number 17?

Simple to answer.

If you are completely prepared, you should be able to respond to this question in 0.015 seconds.

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Following graduation, what do you choose to do with your scientific research?

You are free to express your thoughts in this area.

If you intend to publish it, this is frequently the easiest time to speak with the committee members and engage in conversation; perhaps a professor present might be of assistance.

What type of knowledge source was used for the study?

You must now identify the source or sources from which you obtained the data. Generally speaking, you must specify if the data came from primary, secondary, or both sources.

By going over the study’s theoretical and empirical literature review, you can persuade the committee members even more.

What theories or theoretical framework is the foundation of your study?

Although extremely technical, this question is intriguing.

You should have a working knowledge of at least two relevant theories related to your research before entering the defence room.

For instance, Maslow’s Theory and other theories of motivation will support the “impact of motivation on employee productivity.”

Consult your supervisor for assistance if you are having trouble finding suitable theories to replicate your research

How would you connect your findings to the study’s prevailing theories?

One will need to read a lot to ace this test.

You should be familiar with both empirical studies and the current ideas surrounding the subject.

It would significantly help to validate your study if you can relate your conclusions to earlier research investigations, regardless of whether they concur or not. I’ll bet you’ll win this debate.

What suggestions do you have for upcoming research? Question 22

Your capacity for problem-solving is tested here.

You should be able to spot topics that require more investigation.

What is the study’s scope, question 23?

This one might be a throwaway or bonus query.

Here, you succinctly explain the study’s boundaries.

What queries does one have for the committee? Question 24

Although this is not a question that can be asked in our African context, I have nonetheless defended a seminar project where it was, and I was astounded to the core.

This is frequently an opportunity to talk with the members of your committee and to ask some insightful questions. Avoid asking pointless or overly challenging questions because the committee members should feel a sense of loyalty to the “boss” rather than you.

It will also go a long way toward demonstrating that you are a superb person.

Question 25: Is there anything further you would like to add?

It’s time to give thanks! Take this opportunity to express your gratitude to the committee for their time and inquiries.

Tell them how much you learned from them and how you intend to fix any mistakes (if any) found in your work. Your internal and external supervisors will be greatly impressed by this.

We hope the best for you!

Thesis defense questions

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9. Why is your study important?

The response to this research question should describe how your findings have affected your field of study.

You could discuss the novel understandings your study has provided and how it has affected society.

My research on “The effect of chamomile in lowering stress and encouraging better sleep” can help people with insomnia and anxiety find non-pharmaceutical remedies for their conditions.

The chamomile plant’s medicinal properties will encourage the use of natural products and motivate the community to grow additional herbs and trees.

10. What conclusions did your research yield?

In this response, you are permitted to briefly summarise your study. For example,

In our study on the “Impact of Artificial Fluoride in Water on the Human Body,”

we discovered that since Fluoride has neurotoxic properties, excessive exposure to high levels of it might cause tooth discolouration and bone problems in people.

11. What research results caught you off guard?

When you undertake research, you often discover results that you did not initially anticipate.

When answering this question, you can mention the same to the evaluation committee if you had such an event. For instance,

In my comparative research of the use of conventional and modern marketing techniques,

I anticipated that business promotion through social media would not be a good concept for rural firms in developing countries.

But I was quite aback to learn that 68% of Nigeria’s rural textile manufacturers advertise their goods on Instagram.

12. How reliable are your findings?

The circumstances under which the results of your investigation might be valid must be discussed.

In my research, I have assumed that both nervous system activation and negative thoughts contribute to exam anxiety.

Thus, to ensure that my results are accurate, I included both apprehensive feelings and negative thoughts in my measure of test anxiety.

13. Why did you decide on this research design?

For instance,

In our investigation, we employed the immunostaining technique to examine the differential protein expression, its localisation, and dispersion at various levels.

14. What resources did you draw on to gather the data?

To find information for your topic, you would have looked at a variety of sources. From those sources, you can get into further detail.

You might have consulted databases, and online articles, or even conducted primary research by speaking with potential customers.

So you can discuss these sources. Consider the following response:

We spoke with 150 people over five months to better understand how the existing tax system affects skilled professionals.

In addition, we made use of academic databases and books written by authors who had previously undertaken similar analyses for earlier tax legislation and rates.

15. What applications are there for your research?

The practical ramifications of your findings are covered in this query.

You should explain how your study benefits society and how it may be used to solve existing problems.

In our study, “Effectiveness of Meditation in Reducing the Anxiety Levels of College Students in the US,” we found that due to meditation’s beneficial effects, students who practiced it at least three times a week were twice as likely to perform well on exams.

Therefore, this research’s findings may contribute to fewer student mental health difficulties. Holding meditation classes a few times a week might be a good line of action.

16. What new information will your findings provide to the field?

Our study on the medicinal analysis of herbs contributes to the field of medicinal botany and provides information on the many therapeutic benefits of chamomile in treating depression.

17. Did your study encounter any obstacles?

According to our study, smoking raises a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study is titled

“Impact of smoking on -cell function and risk for type 2 diabetes in US citizens.”

Smokers, however, may have specific hereditary factors that can shield them from developing diabetes.

18. What sampling methods did you employ?

It is nearly impossible to study every element when performing research.

So you would be choosing a sample population using a method.

We employed area sampling to divide the city into various zones for our study, “Impact of soda intake on the health of teenagers in Corpus Christi,” and then we chose a few clusters as our sample population.

19. What are the research’s dependent and independent variables?

Several varying factors have an impact on your research project.

These variables can be described. Independent variables in your study have values that are unaffected by other variables.

The dependent variables, on the other hand, have values that alter as the independent variable does. For instance,

Our study, “Impact of Online Tutoring on Test Results,” uses the participants’ test scores as the dependent variable and the online aspect of the classes as the independent variable.

20. What areas do you recommend for additional study?

When your research is added to the field, you should be ready to explain what new areas will be available for study. Future researchers can use this as a place of departure. For instance,

My research on the “Effectiveness of Acetaminophen in treating sports-generated injuries” led me to the conclusion that treating joint symptoms like knee pain with Acetaminophen is not particularly effective.

This also raises the possibility of taking action to limit the use of acetaminophen in the creation of bodily pain medications and to look for substitutes.

Practice Issues

Try answering these questions on your own after looking at the sample responses:

What steps did you take to address the moral ramifications of your work?

What is the research’s strongest point?

Why do you believe your research to be trustworthy?

Do your findings align with the body of previous research?

Do you believe that your research may have certain biases?

What suggestions do you have based on your research?

What statistical tools do you employ?

Describe the research’s sample population.

What are the practical applications of your findings?

What would you change if you were to conduct your research again?

What significance does your research have for other scientists?

What are the most pressing problems in your fields?

Do you believe your research to be accurate?

What method did you use for your study?

What does your study alter about your field of study?

How general are your research contributions?

What applications does your research have for decision-makers?

What is your research process for qualitative analysis?

How did you go about taking standard measurements?

Do you have any final remarks?

Top 25 Likely Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense (2023)

The top 25 academic research defence questions that you can come across during a tutorial research defence are listed below.

Please utilise this checklist to determine whether you are truly prepared for your research defence.

Keep in mind these inquiries and the suggested methods for responding to them.

We reviewed the list of prior academic research project defence inquiries.

To make sure you are not limiting yourself to only these inquiries, Research Key Consulting Services also suggests that you go further and ask former students about some of the academic scientific research defense questions they ran across during their defence.

Anticipate the obvious inquiries and be ready for them.

Based on your research, you may readily predict the majority of the thesis defense questions.

When you are reading your work, you can make a list of potential questions.

Knowing the committee will help you prepare more effectively.

You can anticipate what questions they may ask by looking at their areas of expertise.

Once you have a list of inquiries, you may begin considering potential responses.

Get your slides ready in advance.

It is a good idea to prepare any visual aids, such as slides, in advance.

You can check the slides again to ensure that everything will go according to plan on the day of your thesis defense.

Make sure the order of your slides is proper.

If a candidate’s thesis defense is an open event, go to it.

You are welcome to attend another candidate’s thesis defense if your institution permits it.

You will have a very good notion of what to anticipate from your meeting after reading this.

If you can’t make it to the event, you might ask your peers about their meeting to see what was discussed and what questions were posed.

Get dressed for your meeting.

You should wear formal attire since the thesis defence meeting is a formal occasion.

You should treat it like a job interview even though there are no rigorous clothing codes.

Don’t just show up in front of the committee wearing your T-shirt.

The ideal choice for the situation is your formal suit.

Prepare your speech for the meeting.

Practice making your presentation to advance your preparation.

You will feel more confident going into the meeting and presentation after this activity.

You might ask your fellow students for assistance with the practice task.

You can enhance your performance for the real session based on their input during the mock session.

Make careful to adequately prepare for the fake session, just like you would for the real session.

In the simulated session, you can also work on your body language and speaking.

Don’t be hesitant to get in touch with these experts again if you hired thesis writing services as they would be the best ones to put you to the test in a simulated thesis defence!

Examples of Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense

1. What is the focus of your research study?

You should provide a brief synopsis of your research in your response.

Although the issue is straightforward, a better understanding of the concepts requires technical knowledge.

If your thesis, for instance, attempted to explain the components of dark matter in the universe and particle accelerators, you may phrase your response as follows:

The various facets of dark matter and its detection models have been looked into in this study.

The development of decaying dark matter models has been addressed and used to explain the cosmic ray positron excess detected by the PAMELA detector.

Assuming a general Dirac structure for the four fermion contact interactions of interest, the cosmic-ray electron and positron spectra were investigated.

To account for the conceivable excess of gamma rays in the galactic core, a supersymmetric leptophilic Higgs model was developed.

Finally, an enhancement to the dark matter collider searches is taken into consideration using Razor analysis.

2. Why did you select this research?

You must respond to this question by stating what inspired you to start the study in the first place.

Your responses can reflect your interests in the study’s subject.

For instance, if your study was titled “Media Combat: The Great War and the Transformation of American Culture,” you may formulate your response as follows:

I’ve always been interested in learning more about the First World War (1914–1918), and my main focus is on examining the social climate of the era.

I wanted to examine how theatre and music changed how the government interacted with American civilians during the American involvement in the war and the emergence of a nationalised, wartime cultural infrastructure.

3. Why did you decide on this specific title for your study?

It is crucial to select a title that accurately conveys the main idea of your thesis because it serves as a summary of your research.

Your selection of a final title for your work will be questioned by your committee. For instance,

For my research thesis, I chose the subject “Dark matter in the heavens and at colliders: Models and limitations,” as my work aims to shed light on the nature of dark matter as it manifests itself in the cosmos.

The universe is often referred to as “the skies.” Particle accelerators like the CERN collider can also produce dark matter.

Through the use of models and a description of the current constraints brought about by specific scientific limitations, I have made an effort to explain both circumstances.

4. What is the purview of your research?

You must specify the scope of your project and the precise subject matter you are researching in your response. There may be several factors at play, but you must first establish the study criteria. For instance,

My research focuses on how effective equities stocks are on the US market.

I’ve selected 50 NASDAQ-listed companies for my analysis. The names of these businesses are listed on page 5 of my thesis.

5. What phenomenon were you attempting to comprehend with this study?

In your response, explain your thesis’ central idea. For instance,

We sought to investigate the Theory of Planned Behavior in our study on “Motivation to Volunteer” by examining the behavioural and normative ideas that shape attitudes and subjective norms.

6. Who will be most curious about your study?

You can discuss the people who your research may affect as well as those who may gain something from it. Look at this illustration:

Sociology professors, social media firms, education professionals, and parents of children, in general, may be interested in my sociology thesis on “Impact of social media on youngsters.”

7. Did your research questions change as you conducted them? How, if so?

Qualitative research questions frequently evolve in response to the feedback you could receive from your focus group.

Alternatively, as you conduct laboratory research or general text study, your question may simply alter.

You can inform the evaluation panel of the modification. For instance,

With the installation of trash cans designated for vinyl items, we set out to understand the effects of the new public policy change on the recycling of vinyl waste.

However, after speaking with a few of the target community’s responders, we discovered that the law has no bearing on their actions or beliefs because the locality’s vinyl waste proportion was so low that no special bins needed to be installed.

Our study, which originally focused on the expenses associated with public policy changes, changed as a result of their discontent with the current state of economic insecurity.

8. What holes did your research attempt to fill?

Your research thesis must close any conceptual gaps connected to your subject issue that exist now.

We examined the mineral makeup of hard water to ascertain its effect on the size of the kidney stone since the relationship between hard water and its effect on kidney stone size is not yet evident.

How to Prepare for Questions During Thesis Defense

You need to get started on your thesis defense questions well in advance.

The main goal of your thesis defense is to defend your study, even though the length may vary depending on your institution’s requirements.

As a result, you should follow the procedures below to prepare for your thesis defense questions.

For clarity, read your thesis again.

Your research paper will serve as the basis for your thesis defense questions. Rereading your article is therefore an excellent idea.

You should have a firm grasp of the topics and be aware of your research.

A revision should be the first step in your preparation as it may have been some time after you sent in your work.

Have a plan for your responses and a structure

Create a plan for your response to the panel’s questions.

Keep your responses succinct, but whenever required, provide more specifics about the research.

It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question.

The trick is to be able to come up with a response even if you don’t have the knowledge to do so right now.

Having a plan for responding to even the most unexpected questions can be a lifesaver in these circumstances!

For example, if a question is about the content of your research, you can say something like

“I am not sure my research touches on the question you are asking, but my research has led me to Dr X. Based on this evidence, I would have to conclude that…”

The best approach to prepare for this difficult stage in your academic career is to practice answering thesis defense questions in what we called a  thesis Pre-defense.

Many Universities in the world always have Pre-defenses before the Final Defense.

For you to have a  thesis defense that will beat the imagination of all your professors, you need to read this blog article till the end and you will notice all the secrets of answering thesis defense questions

First of all, You need to have effective tactics for dealing with various question types and explaining why you choose your research topic in addition to having a thorough understanding of your research project.

It’s time to put your years of in-depth study to the test now that you may have previously responded to inquiries about your research interests in your research interest statement and graduate school interview questions.

 Below are some of the trickiest thesis defense queries, along with our knowledgeable answers.

Note: Schedule a free strategy call if you’d like our assistance with your applications, interviews, or standardized testing.

Visit our collaborations page if you represent a university, company, or student organization and would want to collaborate with us.

How Should a Thesis Defense Go?

You get the opportunity to showcase your in-depth understanding and subject competence at a thesis defense.

The members of your thesis committee will be able to direct the narrative and hear about your study, but the instructors will push you to demonstrate your command of the material.

Since most of the questions are open-ended, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as well as any potential future plans you may have for your research topic.

Depending on the subject of your research, a thesis defense typically lasts between one and two hours. You start by presenting your area of interest, your research, and your conclusions.

The committee members will quiz you once you’ve completed based on both your oral presentation and your written thesis, which they will have already read.

Finally, the committee may endorse your thesis or make suggestions for improving your paper.

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Preparing for a Master's Defense

A guide for graduate students preparing for a master's defense in Arts, Sciences and Engineering.

Prepare for the Defense

Selecting a defense date, international students and work visas, registration categories for defense, thesis writing and guidelines, printing and binding your thesis for defense, registering your thesis, know the rituals.

  • Use PowerPoint

Public Lecture

Dress Professionally

Items to Bring to the Defense

The Closed Examination

Address Questions with Confidence

Final Corrected Copies of the Thesis

Department/program requirements prior to termination of student status, publishing your final thesis.

  • Binding Your Final Thesis

Before Defense

After completing the research required for your thesis, you should inform your graduate administrator that you have started the process to prepare for your defense. A master’s thesis defense committee must include your advisor, a second faculty member from your program, and a faculty member from outside of your department. A master's thesis defense uses the same rules for committee composition as PhD defense committees . However, master's thesis committees do not require a committee chair as PhD dissertation committees do.

Please note: If the advisor is not in a student's program, the advisor still counts as a committee member within the progra.

When you and your advisor begin thinking about defending, check the academic calendar for deadlines. Defenses can be held on any day the Arts, Sciences and Engineering Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (AS&E GEPA) is open for business (i.e., not weekends, evenings, or holidays, or the days between Christmas and New Year’s).

You must reserve a room for your oral presentation and for your closed exam.  Check with your graduate administrator to determine who will schedule the room for your thesis defense .

Let your graduate administrator know as soon as all of the members of your committee have agreed to a specific date and time for the defense. Your graduate administrator will advise you of any program-specific requirements for the defense, as well as prepare your thesis defense paperwork. They will also help you determine who will schedule the room for your thesis defense and who will obtain the signatures for your paperwork. 

You should provide your committee members at least one week to read and comment on your thesis before the thesis defense.

Participating Via Video Conferencing

While you and your advisor must both be physically present in the room for the defense, other committee members are allowed to participate in the defense remotely via Skype or other video conferencing technology. This must be approved by the AS&E dean of graduate education and postdoctoral affairs before the dissertation is registered for defense.

We strongly recommend that international students meet with an  International Services Office (ISO)  representative. The ISO will provide information on visa options, documentation, and timelines for applying for a visa for employment in the United States.

In your final semester (the semester in which you defend), if you have completed all your credit requirements, you will register for one of the following registration categories:

899: Master’s Thesis —Non-credit bearing registration category for a master’s student who has completed all of the requirements for the degree except the thesis and is in residence as a full-time student.

895: Continuation of Enrollment —Non-credit bearing registration category for a master’s student who has completed all of the requirements for the degree except the thesis and is not in residence as a full-time student.

For more information about these categories, see the registration page .

The Preparing Your Master's Thesis manual is a great resource to help you bring your dissertation up to the required standard of organization, appearance, and format for the University of Rochester. While this document is specifically for PhD Dissertations, the same formatting rules apply for master’s theses. Before preparing the defense copy of your thesis, check the contents of the manual carefully to help avoid mistakes that can be time-consuming and costly to correct.

Before beginning your thesis you should consult with your advisor for your department or program’s preferred style guide (APA, MLA, Chicago).

Including material produced by other authors in your thesis can serve a legitimate research purpose, but you want to avoid copyright infringement in the process. For detailed instructions on avoiding copyright infringement, please see ProQuest’s  Copyright Guide .

You must provide copies of the thesis to your committee members. You should check with your committee members to see if they prefer printed or electronic copies (or both). Printed copies do not need to be printed on heavyweight, expensive paper unless there is the need to do so for figures and images. 

Printing and binding a thesis can be expensive. You can use the Copy Center or FedEx Office to print and bind your thesis.

“Registering” simply means that you have presented a thesis document, which you intend to defend, to the AS&E dean of graduate education and postdoctoral affairs. Your thesis must be approved as ready to defend by your advisor, as noted by the advisor signature on the  Master’s Thesis Defense Appointment Form  (this form can only be accessed by staff).

Your defense must be at least five full working days after you register. When registering, you must present a bound defense copy of your thesis to the Office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA).

The copy of your thesis that you register will be returned to you usually within a few days before or after the defense, with possible corrections that must be addressed in the final thesis.

The Defense

Below you will find suggestions to help you get ready for the defense and information to give you a sense of what to expect.

The best way to know what happens and the best way for you to prepare for your defense is to regularly attend the defenses of your colleagues. You should also speak with your advisor to get a sense of his/her specific expectations of a defense.

Guidelines for Presentations

Use PowerPoint or Other Software to Create Slides

You should prepare a presentation of the research that comprises the thesis. Your slides should encapsulate the work and focus on its most salient contributions. In preparing, ask yourself these questions: “What do I want people to know about my thesis? What is the most important information that I can present and talk about?” Here are some basic tips:

  • Use text large enough to be readable by the audience (especially text from figures)
  • Ensure graphics and tables are clear
  • Don’t clutter your slides—if necessary, have things come up on mouse clicks
  • Use spell check and proofread your slides
  • Practice your presentation with your peers
  • Work on pronunciation, if required
  • Time your presentation to ensure it will fit the allotted time while allowing time for questions

If your defense includes a public lecture, we recommended that you do a trial run of your presentation a day or two before your defense in the room that has been booked for your public lecture. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the space and the equipment and to address any problems that arise during the trial run.

Plan your public lecture to allow enough time for questions. Present enough information so that the audience understands what you did, why you did it, what the implications are, and what your suggestions are for future research.

The date/time/location of your defense and thesis topic are advertised to your program and beyond. Friends and family are welcome to attend the public lecture. Faculty and students in the audience are given the opportunity to ask questions.

Plan to dress professionally for the defense in the same way you would if presenting a paper at a conference or for a job interview. You will be standing for a long time on the day of your defense, which will be important to keep in mind when selecting shoes.

Essentials that you should bring include:

  • Your presentation
  • A laser pointer
  • A copy of your thesis document
  • A pen or pencil
  • Something to record comments
  • A bottle of water 

You will be asked to leave the room while your committee reviews your program of study, grades, and decides whether the thesis is acceptable/not acceptable. The committee decides whether members will ask sequential questions or whether each member will be allotted a specific time period for questioning.

You will be called back into the examining room and questioning will begin. After all questions have been addressed, you will be asked to leave the room while your committee decides the outcome of the exam. You will be asked to return to the room to be informed of the outcome.

  • Listen  to the entire question no matter how long it takes the faculty member or student to ask it (take notes if necessary).
  • Pause and think  about the question before answering.
  • Rephrase  the question succinctly.
  • Answer  the question to the best of your ability. If you do not know the answer, remain calm and say so in a professional way.
  • Remember  that no one will know the ins and outs of the thesis and your research materials as well as you.  You  are the foremost expert in the thesis topic and  YOU know the research involved. Be positive!

At the conclusion of your defense, your committee will either determine that you have passed or failed the exam. In the event that the outcome is a failure of the exam, you may request reexamination after four months have passed. 

After the Defense

You can submit the final corrected copies of your thesis as soon as you address any remaining comments that were brought up during the defense or noted in the registration copy of your thesis, which will be returned to you usually within a few days before or after the defense.

Each department and program has its own process for students who are ending their student status. Be sure to check with your graduate administrator to determine if there is additional paperwork that you need to complete before your student status is terminated.

The University of Rochester requires all master’s thesis candidates to deposit their theses for publication with the University libraries. A PDF copy of your final thesis is required by the GEPA office to provide to the University libraries .

Binding Your Final Master’s Thesis

Your department may want a bound copy of your thesis. Please check with your graduate administrator to determine this and how the cost of binding is covered. You may also want a bound copy for yourself and others.

Graduate Center | Home

Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

A woman in front of a bookshelf speaking to a laptop

Written by Luke Wink-Moran | Photo by insta_photos

Dissertation defenses are daunting, and no wonder; it’s not a “dissertation discussion,” or a “dissertation dialogue.” The name alone implies that the dissertation you’ve spent the last x number of years working on is subject to attack. And if you don’t feel trepidation for semantic reasons, you might be nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Our imaginations are great at making The Unknown scarier than reality. The good news is that you’ll find in this newsletter article experts who can shed light on what dissertations defenses are really like, and what you can do to prepare for them.

The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it’s so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

“To me,” noted Dr. Atkins, who wrote her dissertation on how sociology faculty from traditionally marginalized backgrounds teach about privilege and inequality, “the most important part of the doctoral journey was finding an advisor who understood and supported what I wanted from my education and who was willing to challenge me and push me, while not delaying me.  I would encourage future PhDs to really take the time to get to know the faculty before choosing an advisor and to make sure that the members of their committee work well together.”

Your advisor will be the one who helps you refine arguments and strengthen your work so that by the time it reaches your dissertation committee, it’s ready. Next comes the writing process, which many students have said was the hardest part of their PhD. I’ve included this section on the writing process because this is where you’ll create all the material you’ll present during your defense, so it’s important to navigate it successfully. The writing process is intellectually grueling, it eats time and energy, and it’s where many students find themselves paddling frantically to avoid languishing in the “All-But-Dissertation” doldrums. The writing process is also likely to encroach on other parts of your life. For instance, Dr. Cynthia Trejo wrote her dissertation on college preparation for Latin American students while caring for a twelve-year-old, two adult children, and her aging parents—in the middle of a pandemic. When I asked Dr. Trejo how she did this, she replied:

“I don’t take the privilege of education for granted. My son knew I got up at 4:00 a.m. every morning, even on weekends, even on holidays; and it’s a blessing that he’s seen that work ethic and that dedication and the end result.”

Importantly, Dr. Trejo also exercised regularly and joined several online writing groups at UArizona. She mobilized her support network— her partner, parents, and even friends from high school to help care for her son.

The challenges you face during the writing process can vary by discipline. Jessika Iwanski is an MD/PhD student who in 2022 defended her dissertation on genetic mutations in sarcomeric proteins that lead to severe, neonatal dilated cardiomyopathy. She described her writing experience as “an intricate process of balancing many things at once with a deadline (defense day) that seems to be creeping up faster and faster— finishing up experiments, drafting the dissertation, preparing your presentation, filling out all the necessary documents for your defense and also, for MD/PhD students, beginning to reintegrate into the clinical world (reviewing your clinical knowledge and skill sets)!”

But no matter what your unique challenges are, writing a dissertation can take a toll on your mental health. Almost every student I spoke with said they saw a therapist and found their sessions enormously helpful. They also looked to the people in their lives for support. Dr. Betsy Labiner, who wrote her dissertation on Interiority, Truth, and Violence in Early Modern Drama, recommended, “Keep your loved ones close! This is so hard – the dissertation lends itself to isolation, especially in the final stages. Plus, a huge number of your family and friends simply won’t understand what you’re going through. But they love you and want to help and are great for getting you out of your head and into a space where you can enjoy life even when you feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash.”

While you might sometimes feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash, remember: a) no it’s not, you brilliant scholar, and b) the best dissertations aren’t necessarily perfect dissertations. According to Dr. Trejo, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” So don’t get hung up on perfecting every detail of your work. Think of your dissertation as a long-form assignment that you need to finish in order to move onto the next stage of your career. Many students continue revising after graduation and submit their work for publication or other professional objectives.

When you do finish writing your dissertation, it’s time to schedule your defense and invite friends and family to the part of the exam that’s open to the public. When that moment comes, how do you prepare to present your work and field questions about it?

“I reread my dissertation in full in one sitting,” said Dr. Labiner. “During all my time writing it, I’d never read more than one complete chapter at a time! It was a huge confidence boost to read my work in full and realize that I had produced a compelling, engaging, original argument.”

There are many other ways to prepare: create presentation slides and practice presenting them to friends or alone; think of questions you might be asked and answer them; think about what you want to wear or where you might want to sit (if you’re presenting on Zoom) that might give you a confidence boost. Iwanksi practiced presenting with her mentor and reviewed current papers to anticipate what questions her committee might ask.  If you want to really get in the zone, you can emulate Dr. Labiner and do a full dress rehearsal on Zoom the day before your defense.

But no matter what you do, you’ll still be nervous:

“I had a sense of the logistics, the timing, and so on, but I didn’t really have clear expectations outside of the structure. It was a sort of nebulous three hours in which I expected to be nauseatingly terrified,” recalled Dr. Labiner.

“I expected it to be terrifying, with lots of difficult questions and constructive criticism/comments given,” agreed Iwanski.

“I expected it to be very scary,” said Dr. Trejo.

“I expected it to be like I was on trial, and I’d have to defend myself and prove I deserved a PhD,” said Dr Atkins.

And, eventually, inexorably, it will be time to present.  

“It was actually very enjoyable” said Iwanski. “It was more of a celebration of years of work put into this project—not only by me but by my mentor, colleagues, lab members and collaborators! I felt very supported by all my committee members and, rather than it being a rapid fire of questions, it was more of a scientific discussion amongst colleagues who are passionate about heart disease and muscle biology.”

“I was anxious right when I logged on to the Zoom call for it,” said Dr. Labiner, “but I was blown away by the number of family and friends that showed up to support me. I had invited a lot of people who I didn’t at all think would come, but every single person I invited was there! Having about 40 guests – many of them joining from different states and several from different countries! – made me feel so loved and celebrated that my nerves were steadied very quickly. It also helped me go into ‘teaching mode’ about my work, so it felt like getting to lead a seminar on my most favorite literature.”

“In reality, my dissertation defense was similar to presenting at an academic conference,” said Dr. Atkins. “I went over my research in a practiced and organized way, and I fielded questions from the audience.

“It was a celebration and an important benchmark for me,” said Dr. Trejo. “It was a pretty happy day. Like the punctuation at the end of your sentence: this sentence is done; this journey is done. You can start the next sentence.”

If you want to learn more about dissertations in your own discipline, don’t hesitate to reach out to graduates from your program and ask them about their experiences. If you’d like to avail yourself of some of the resources that helped students in this article while they wrote and defended their dissertations, check out these links:

The Graduate Writing Lab

https://thinktank.arizona.edu/writing-center/graduate-writing-lab

The Writing Skills Improvement Program

https://wsip.arizona.edu

Campus Health Counseling and Psych Services

https://caps.arizona.edu

https://www.scribbr.com/

How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

master thesis oral defense questions

You’ve reached the home stretch in your journey toward your post-graduate degree. You’ve diligently studied, researched and performed for years, and all that’s left is your master thesis or doctorate dissertation. 

“ All that’s left,” however, might be the understatement of the century. There’s nothing simple about orally defending your thesis, and this final stage often means the difference between a degree and a program that remains incomplete.

Even after you’ve dedicated months filled with blood, sweat and tears defining your argument, researching your support and writing your defense, you aren’t ready to address the academic panel. You still have to design an effective visual presentation, and the slide deck can make or break your entire thesis.

Unsure how to design a stellar slide deck to visually present your thesis or dissertation? Check out the following tips to pull off your master thesis defense with a great presentation:

1.   Properly structure your slide deck

Every master thesis defense presentation is unique, but most effective slide decks will follow a similar structure, including:  

  • Title - Just like a research paper, your thesis presentation must include a title slide. This should include the same information as any other title page: the title, your name, your academic institution, course name and the name of the academic advisor to your thesis or dissertation. That doesn’t mean your title slide needs to look like the start of any other Frankendeck . Instead, add your text atop a relative image, and adjust the brightness to ensure your text pops.
  • Introduction - Your thesis presentation should also include an introduction slide, which details the topic of your thesis, the question your research will seek to answer and any additional objectives to your research, as well as the answer or solution you will be defending.
  • Literature review - Following your thesis introduction, design one or more slides that review the literature you researched. This shouldn’t be a full bibliography (although that should be included in the accompanying written account of your research), but instead, the slides should list your most relevant research sources. If the information is featured on a slide, make sure you include its source. 
  • Methodology - Your thesis presentation slide deck should also include a slide (or slides) detailing the methodology of your research and argument. Here you want to describe the type of study— whether it’s quantitative, qualitative or a combination of the two, as well as an explanation of why you chose the method or methods you used. If you conducted original research, you will want to detail the study population, sampling methods and other details pertinent to your studies, while you’ll also want to detail how you analyzed your data.
  • Results - No thesis presentation slide deck is complete without dedicating slides to illustrate the results of your research. Be sure to include a description of any data you collected through your research, as well as the results of your analysis of the data. What were your most significant findings?
  • Discussion - How do the results of your research support your overall thesis argument? Be sure to include slides that discuss your overall findings and how they relate to your original question.
  • Conclusion - Concluding slides should restate your original research questions, represent the results of your research, suggest future research and make any final recommendations.
  • Ending slide – Close your thesis presentation with a concluding slide that offers an interesting quote or trivia that makes your audience further ponder your topic, a GIF or animation that recaptures the audience’s attention or even a hypothetical question that opens additional discussion from the academic panel. This is your opportunity to make your presentation memorable.

master thesis oral defense questions

Thesis Presentation vs. Dissertation

Thesis presentation and dissertation are two terms often used in academic settings related to upper education. While they are related, there are distinct differences between the two, which is important to understand as you begin to structure your thesis defense.

‍ A thesis presentation typically refers to the final oral presentation that a student gives to defend their thesis or research project. It is a formal presentation to explain their findings, methodology, and conclusions to a panel of faculty members or experts in the field. The purpose of a thesis defense presentation is to demonstrate the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and to defend the validity of their research.

On the other hand, a dissertation refers to a lengthy and comprehensive research project that is typically required for the completion of a doctoral degree. It involves in-depth research, analysis, and the development of original ideas in a particular field of study. A dissertation is usually written over an extended period and is expected to contribute new knowledge or insights to the field. Unlike a thesis presentation, a dissertation is submitted in written form and is typically evaluated by a committee of faculty members or experts in the field.

2.   Choose which ideas to illustrate

Unless you have an hour to fill with your master thesis defense or doctorate dissertation, you won’t be able to include every idea from your overall research documentation in your slide show. Choose the most important ideas to illustrate on slides, while also keeping in mind what aspects of your research you’ll be able to visually represent.

master thesis oral defense questions

3.   Define your presentation’s theme

A stellar thesis or dissertation presentation will be professional in appearance, and a cohesive design is an absolute must. Choose what types of typography and color schemes best support your topic. 

Instead of adjusting these settings on each individual slide— a tedious task at best— choose a PowerPoint-alternative presentation software like Beautiful.ai that allows you to customize a theme for your entire slide deck. Choose your fonts and other typography, your color palette, margins, footers, logos, transitions and more, and the cloud-based tool will automatically apply those design specifications to every slide you add to the master thesis defense presentation.

4.   Design simple and focused slides

You might have a lot of information to present, but when it comes to your thesis presentation— or almost any slide deck for that matter— less is more. Be sure every slide counts by focusing on your main points. 

Then, whatever you do, keep your slides simple. Not even an academic panel is going to dedicate much time deciphering a cluttered slide with all too many details. Try to avoid presenting more than one or two ideas on each slide.

5.   Include data visualizations

The whole point of your presentation is to illustrate the concepts included in your thesis. Humans are visual creatures and react strongly to imagery, and the panel evaluating your thesis or dissertation is no exception— regardless of how studious and formal the academics might seem. Illustrate the results of your research with colorful and engaging infographics . You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create them, either. 

Beautiful.ai users can choose from a host of smart slide templates with data visualizations — including favorites like bar graphs and pie charts , as well as less common options like scattergraphs , flow charts and pictograms . Just input your data and watch as our special brand of artificial intelligence creates the infographic for you.  

6.   Practice makes perfect

After spending months researching your thesis or dissertation, writing about your findings and designing a stellar master thesis defense presentation, you would hate to see all your hard work be for naught. That’s still a distinct possibility, however, if you don’t also practice your delivery. 

Practice, practice and practice some more until you know your master thesis defense like the back of your hand. No academic panel will be impressed by a graduate candidate who stumbles through their presentation or appears to be reading from their notes. Know the contents of every slide, as well as exactly what parts of your overall defense you want to deliver during its display. 

Things to keep in mind to help you nail your presentation

The golden rule of any presentation is to keep your audience engaged. You can ensure a more engaging presentation by maintaining eye contact, using appropriate gestures, and speaking clearly. You can also choose to include the audience in your presentation with interactive questions, polls, and slides.

To help boost audience retention, utilize storytelling. Studies show that when facts are presented in the form of a story, people are 22 times more likely to remember them. Talk about powerful.

Last but not least, plan for questions— and not simply by allowing time for them. Watch other thesis defenses delivered at your institution, and consider what types of questions the academic panel might ask, so you can prepare the best possible answer.

Extra credit:

Get started with our PhD Defense Thesis presentation template here .

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.

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Home Blog Presentation Ideas How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

master thesis oral defense questions

Writing a thesis is stressful, but preparing an oral defense can be even more painful. But it doesn’t have to be; with proper preparation and a good presentation, you will be able to better equip yourself comes time to present your thesis defense.

But what makes a good thesis defense?

A proper presentation helps you with your thesis defense because it helps you capture the panels’ attention and gives you cues and reminders on what to say as well.

It also helps keep your data organized while visually looking good and provides a flow structure for the rest of your presentation.

In today’s article, we will be giving you The Right PowerPoint Templates for Your Thesis Defense and a powerful outline composed of best practices and layouts specifically designed to help you defend your thesis in both written and oral presentations.

In the next segments of this article, we’ll walk you through the most feasible process on how to ace this kind of presentation.

Let’s dive into the outline of what makes a great thesis defense.

Thesis Defense Overview

Similarities.

  • Type of Degree

Thesis and Dissertation Distinction Varies on Location

Three most common thesis defense myths, how to use chatgpt to structure your thesis.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Acknowledgements
  • Questions and Answers
  • Contact Information
  • Tips During Your Oral Defense
  • More Quick Tips on How to Present

A thesis defense is composed of two parts – a thesis and a defense.

The thesis, according to Grad School Hub , represents a student’s collective understanding of his or her program and major.

Universities often include a thesis in every course as one of the final requirements to earn a particular graduate or postgraduate degree.

The thesis, however, isn’t just a mere requirement.

It helps the students to grow out of their shell from their respective discipline and give them the opportunity to present all the findings of their study.

Moreover, some people think a thesis is just a long essay, but it’s not. Unlike an essay, a thesis needs to assert something.

This can be considered one of the most crucial research documents that a student makes during their academic schooling .

On the other hand, defense is the presentation of the pieces of evidence to support and prove your research.

It’s the most essential part of the thesis process.

Your presentation has to be prepared to answer questions from members of the committee and any other panel present, and it’s your job to convince them and defend your thesis with ample proof.

Prior to presenting, you have to carefully determine what appropriate evidence should be presented before the panel, depending on what thesis you have to defend.

master thesis oral defense questions

Thesis and Dissertation Distinguished

A thesis or dissertation is usually required to complete a particular graduate degree. These two words are often used interchangeably by most students when referring to research studies.

But while being almost similar in format or structure, it’s worth noting that they have significant differences that set them apart from each other.

The very reason why thesis and dissertation are treated the same is that these two are both extensive papers. Not just merely long essays like what others are claiming.

Both of these papers are extensive. This is why students are given ample time, usually the entire last semester of the last year of study, to complete all the requirements and finally acquire their degree.

With regards to structure, both papers are very similar with few differences.

Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation

One of the significant differences between the two is to whom the paper is assigned. A thesis is usually required for those students earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While a dissertation is for those, who want to obtain a doctorate degree.

However, not all students taking a master’s degree are required to make a thesis. Prior to their enrollment, they have been given a choice of whether they’ll go for a non-thesis program or with a thesis.

Those who have a plan to escalate their degree to a doctorate eventually should take the path of a thesis. This is to prepare themselves for a more extensive dissertation requirement as doctorate students. Otherwise, they will be only limited to earning a master’s degree.

paths to degrees diagram

But above all, the most significant difference between the two papers is the purpose for which it is written.

A thesis, like what has been mentioned above, is being done by students obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree and has the purpose of testing their understanding of the discipline they’re engaged with.

A thesis is focused on obtaining technical expertise.

On the other hand, a dissertation is made for students to come up with an original study that other researchers haven’t already studied.

Path to a Doctoral Degree

USA: In the United States of America, they consider a thesis shorter than a dissertation. In fact, aside from being a requirement to graduate in college, a thesis is now also inculcated in master’s degree programs. And since the dissertation is more extensive, the thesis is treated as preliminary in gaining a doctorate degree.

Europe: The distinction between the two papers is almost opposite to that of the USA. In Europe, a dissertation is only a broader research study from a post-graduate program and not the making of original research. Instead, educational systems in the said continent treat the doctoral thesis as a more elaborate paper writing.

PPT Template Thesis vs Dissertation

The difference between a thesis and a dissertation might not seem that big, but it’s important that we know what makes them different.

If your upcoming defense gives you pressure and uneasiness, it could be cause you are not sure what to expect. Today we will dispel three common thesis defense myths that will help you be more confident in your presentation.

“Answer all the questions correctly. Otherwise, your thesis won’t get approved.”

You are expected to have a focus on your research.

That being said, you have to study each part of your thesis, every detail, and even your sources.

You have to study and practice how to effectively deliver your presentation.

But don’t overthink to the extent that you’re stressing yourself to know everything perfectly.

Don’t overstress if you can’t answer one of the questions, this doesn’t necessarily mean the committee won’t approve your thesis.

You should know that research is a continuous study.

So you should expect that your committee will always be able to find a gap in your study to fill in future related research .

So in times you don’t exactly know the answer, admit it, and you’ll learn as they give their sides or suggestions.

Making up an answer will only displease your committee, so it’s to be upfront, honest, and transparent.

“The committee is just there to find holes in your study. They don’t care about you.”

One of the typical descriptions students have of the committee is that they are just there to poke holes in your thesis.

Going in with this perspective makes standing before them a nerve-wracking experience.

They’re not your enemy.

In fact, they are there to help you polish your study.

They might challenge you with difficult suggestions and tricky questions.

In the end, they will walk you through the process to come up with better results that won’t only benefit you but also your research.

They care about you and your study, and they’re ultimately there to make your thesis and the research better.  Separate yourself from your work look at it objectively, and don’t take their comments personally .

“If your thesis defense isn’t successful, you have to start your thesis all over again”

An unsuccessful defense is one of the worst-case fears most students have.

One thing that you should be aware of is when you aren’t able to please your committee, you don’t need to start a new thesis again or go back to square one with your existing paper.

It’s unusual that your committee will ask you to change your topic and start from scratch again.

The fact that you’ve been permitted to defend your study means your research is almost complete.

They might suggest further details or ask you for minor revisions, and that’s normal.

But overall, you need to go into this defense thinking that your presentation will be successful. Otherwise, you are already setting yourself up for failure with the wrong mindset.

Remember that positive thoughts attract positive results.

Thesis Defense Presentation Structure and Slides Content

We can use language learning models like ChatGPT to help us curate the structure of our thesis presentation. Let’s see a step-by-step solution on how to apply this.

Step 1: Define the thesis topic and research questions

You can set the environment for ChatGPT to work by explaining what your thesis is going to cover and which specific questions you aim to address through the course of that document. This gives ChatGPT the context from which it shall formulate the structure. A prompt can be written like this:

“Take the role of an academic professional who shall help me to write my thesis. This thesis is going to cover the topic of (insert topic), and through its course, I want to answer these questions: Question 1 – Question 2 – Question 3 – Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.”

Step 2: Ask for an outline

With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don’t convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline. Then, ask to elaborate on each specific point for information or cues you may have overlooked.

Step 3: Ask ChatGPT which content should you place per slide

Instead of debating how are you going to trim your thesis into a presentation format, ask ChatGPT to do the decision process for you. You can be as specific as asking how many words per slide, how many slides should the presentation have, if you need any visual element, etc.

N.B.: We don’t recommend using ChatGPT to retrieve academic references as, in some cases, it can provide faulty results. You can ask if any facts on this presentation need to be checked or similar questions. ChatGPT is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be considered a bible, so be extra cautious about grabbing content directly from its outputs.

1. Title Page

This slide should contain the information that is provided on the title page of your hard copy . Here is an example of title page or cover slide for your title defense or thesis presentation.

PPT Template Thesis Title - title defense example - Example of Title Slide in a Thesis Defense Presentation

  • The title of your research paper
  • Where you are studying
  • Name and details of your course
  • Name of Adviser

2. Introduction Slide

Your introduction slide should provide the committee with an idea of the following:

PPT Template Introduction Slide - Example of Introduction Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • What is the topic area that you are investigating ?
  • What are the specific research questions that you set out to answer?
  • Why is this question important to answer?
  • What were the objectives of your research?

3. Literature Review Slide

It’s not necessary to cover everything that’s currently understood in the available literature. You may want to present the following content under a Literature Review slide:

Literature Review Thesis PPT Template

  • Relevant current research that is close to your topic
  • Different theories that may apply to your specific area of research
  • Areas of weakness that are currently highlighted

4. Methodology Slide

Make sure to touch the factors below within your process, and include the following in the Methodology slide:

PPT Template Methodology Slide - Example of Methodology Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • The type of study you have conducted: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed
  • The methods that you chose and why
  • Details of the population, sampling methods, and other information
  • Provide information regarding how you have analyzed the data that you have collected

5. Results Slide

This part should give the committee/audience a good understanding of what you’ve discovered during your research. The statistics & results slide could include the final results of your analysis, here is an example:

Thesis Results PPT Template Slide

  • An overall description of the data that you collected during your research
  • The results of the analysis that you have done on that data
  • What were the most significant findings from your data

6. Discussion Slide

Highlight here the meaning of the findings in relation to your discipline program and the research that you have done:

Thesis Discussion PPT Template Slide - Example of Discussion Slide for a Thesis Defense presentation

  • What are the major findings, and what do they mean with regard to your research
  • How do these findings relate to what others have found in the past
  • How can you explain any unusual or surprising result

7. Conclusions Slide

You have to end your presentation with a conclusion summarizing all that you have found within your research. Here is an example of a Conclusion slide in a Thesis presentation:

Conclusions Thesis PowerPoint Template

  • Restate your research questions
  • Show how your results answer these questions
  • Show what contribution you have made
  • State any limitations to the work you have done
  • Suggest future research
  • Make any recommendations

See Also: How to Create a Great Investors Pitch Deck and Close the Deal

8. Acknowledgements Slide

Express gratitude to your advisor, committee members, peers, and others who supported your research journey. This slide provides a moment to acknowledge the collaborative nature of academic work.

9. Questions and Answers Slide

Dedicate a slide for audience questions at the end of your presentation.

Encourage engagement by inviting questions from the audience.

Be prepared to provide clear and concise responses to inquiries.

10. References Slide

Include a slide listing your cited sources throughout your presentation.

Use a consistent citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

The References slide demonstrates your thorough engagement with existing literature.

11. Contact Information Slide

If you’re open to further inquiries or collaborations, consider adding your contact information.

Include your email address or relevant professional social media handles.

How to use SlideModel AI Presentation Maker for your Thesis Presentation

If you want to save hours of manual time, you can leverage AI tools to make your thesis presentation. The best part of integrating AI tools into our workflow is that we can pair them to get even better results than we expected. With SlideModel’s AI presentation maker , users can create an entire slide deck by introducing these variables:

  • Topic of your thesis
  • Number of slides to include in your thesis presentation
  • Outline checkup

And that’s it! Download the AI-generated presentation in PPTX format or for Google Slides, and edit it if you require adding some extra content. The core elements are already done, and you can save countless hours of hard work.

Tips During Your Oral Defense!

Review your materials.

Even if you already feel confident with your upcoming presentation, you still need to review your materials.

You can bring the hard copy of your thesis with you during the defense, but you don’t want to get lost in your presentation when you forget some specific details and have to scan your papers.

You should know your paper in and out.

Rehearse Your Presentation

It’s not wrong if it sounds like a script when you speak in your oral defense. It’s expected and understandable.

You need to practice your presentation, especially when there’s a time restriction given to every presenter.

You only need to prepare enough slides that would fit your time limit. A hundred slides aren’t suitable for a 15 to 20-minute presentation, nor 10 slides for an hour of defense.

Your rehearsal will be more effective if you practice it in front of an audience.

Note: You will experience complete silence in the defense room. You might feel awkward because, most of the time, you’re the only one speaking out loud.  This is completely fine, and it’s something you should practice in rehearsal should you be afraid.

Narrow the Presentation of Ideas

Regarding your slides, you don’t have to include everything that’s in your paper. You should narrow down your ideas to the main points and the most important details, such as the statistics and findings.

If the members of your committee think you lack details or they want to hear a further explanation, they won’t hesitate to ask you.

Prepare for the Unexpected Questions

The panel tends to challenge the presenters, usually through some hard questions.

Its aim is how well do you you have done your research and how prepared you are.

But as long as you know the ins and outs of your paper, you shouldn’t lose your confidence regardless of which questions they ask.

Just keep in mind that what you’re saying in your oral defense is not in conflict with what is written on the hard copy you provided them.

What To Do When You Don’t Know the Answer

If the committee asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make up a baseless answer.

Baseless means out-of-context answers or something without proof or backup.

How To Deal With The Nervousness

The committee expects you to be nervous. Of course, it’s normal.

However, one effect of being nervous is the changes in your behavior.

There’s a tendency for you’ll talk fast, which will make it hard for the committee to understand you.

It might also cause you to have a mental block.

So try to slow down. Take a deep breath.

Inhale, exhale.  Remember to breathe!

It’s OK to pause, and it’s OK to take your time; it’s more important that the committee clearly understands what you are trying to articulate.

More Quick Tips on How to Present!

  • Introduce yourself at the beginning
  • Introduce the title of the presentation
  • Don’t read your notes if possible
  • Don’t speak too fast
  • Put an emphasis on what you’re saying so you don’t sound monotonous
  • Look at your adviser once in a while for possible signs
  • Stand on the right of the white screen if you are right-handed so you can easily refer to the slide without giving your back to the committee
  • Face the audience when you talk
  • Keep an eye contact
  • Make sure to keep attention to the reactions of the committee and don’t forget to react in turn

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to do a proper thesis defense and how to best prepare for one using proven tips and techniques to help you get through this.  Hopefully, after your defense, you will be set as the one in your class to deliver an inspiring graduation speech for your peers. If you have value, please remember to share this article. We also recommend you read these Thesis Statement Examples for inspiration to create your own professionally.

1. MasterDoc PowerPoint Template

Cover Image for MasterDoc PowerPoint templates

Creating a Thesis presentation should be a straight forward task; based on your thesis document and following the tips described above you have a high level structure already outlined. The MasterDoc PowerPoint template provides professional layouts with texts and image placeholders; so you can create document like slides using your thesis defense as your content. This template is ideal for a highly detailed documents, where visuals and words unite to illustrate one concept per page. The result is an asset that can be read and digested more quickly than either your thesis document or a presentation created for assisting a speech. A document created with the MasterDoc PowerPoint templates is meant to be printed or distributed, read on screen without the accompaniment of a presenter or used in an e-learning platform as pure learning content.

Use This Template

2. Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template

master thesis oral defense questions

You had invested a considerable time researching, testing hypothesis and confirming your thesis. Craft your thesis presentation with the same level of detail you applied in your work. Using the Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template you will focus only in your content and your message. The layouts, images,design and structure will be taken care by the template.

3. Master Thesis PowerPoint Template

master thesis oral defense questions

The Master Thesis PowerPoint Template is a professional document designed for postgraduate degrees presentations. It provides simple sections that follow  the structure and best practices of traditional research thesis presentations. Starting with the introduction to the theory and state of the art scenario; following with hypothesis research and its findings and concluding with the confirmation or negation of the initial thesis statement.

4. Essay Outline PowerPoint Template

master thesis oral defense questions

Your thesis defense can be accompanied by an essay, that states your thesis and argues about it using several supporting paragraphs. This kind of document is ideal to be an intermediate step between reading assisting to the thesis presentation and reading the complete thesis documentation. It has more information that your thesis defense abstract, but does summarizes the supporting evidence and examples that allows the argument of each idea behind the thesis. You can use the Essay Outline Template to present your Essay outline and create an essay linked to your thesis defense documentation.

master thesis oral defense questions

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36 Responses to “How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation”

Great job! This has made my thesis presentation a whole lot easier.

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master thesis oral defense questions

How to Prepare for the Oral Defense of Your Thesis/Dissertation

© Paul T. P. Wong , Ph.D., C.Psych.,  Former Research Director, Graduate Program in Counselling Psychology, Trinity Western University, Langley, BC, Canada

Use the following steps when preparing for the oral defense of your thesis/dissertation.

1. Evaluation of oral examination is based on your presentation and your answers to questions from the examining committee.

2. Be well prepared for your presentation—academically, mentally and physically. Try to be well rested and focused before your oral defense.

3. In your preparation, don’t try to memorize all the studies cited in your thesis, but you do need to know the details of the few key studies that form the basis of your investigation.

4. You need to be familiar with larger issues, such as the basic assumptions, theoretical framework, paradigm, cross-cultural perspectives, Christian integration, etc.

5. More importantly, you need to have a deep understanding of the nature of your research problem and the major issues involved.

6. You may bring with you important materials for easy reference in the course of your defense; these may include key articles, computer print-outs of results, etc.

7. Your presentation is evaluated in terms of content and clarity as well as style.

8. Don’t speak too fast and don’t read from your notes.

9. Treat your presentation as a public address because there may be non-psychologists present at your defense. Therefore, don’t use too many jargons and don’t pack it with details. You need to tell people in simple, concise language:

  • What you did,
  • Why you did it,
  • How you did it,
  • What you found, and
  • What the results mean.

10. Prepare handouts or power-points. Typically, they should include

  • An overview or outline of your presentation,
  • Introduction (including research question, rationale and hypothesis, if any, and definition of key constructs),
  • Method (including design, methodology, sample, instruments or questionnaires, and procedure,
  • Results (including tables or figures summarizing your findings), and
  • Discussion (including reasons for new or unexpected findings, contributions and limitations, and practical implications).

11. Make sure that you space yourself well. Don’t spend too much time on one section. For example, you should not spend more than 5 minutes on introduction, since you are allowed only 20 minutes for your presentation.

12. Most of the questions are rather general and broad, dealing with substantial methodological, theoretical and application issues. However, some questions focus on specific points regarding sampling, statistical analysis, or some questionable conclusions.

13. Be prepared to clarify or elaborate on your assumptions, theoretical positions, methods, and conclusions. Often, an examiner plays the devil’s advocate to see how well you can think on your feet and defend yourself.

14. Occasionally, an examiner may ask a question which is unfair or cannot be adequately answered. After a few futile attempts, feel free to say that you don’t know the answer. You may even be bold enough to say, “Since none of my answers are acceptable, I would really appreciate it if you could give me some pointers or tell me what would be a correct answer.”

15. Here are some common questions:

  • If you were to do it all over again, what changes would you make?
  • What specific aspects of your findings can be utilized by counselors or psychologists in their practice?
  • What is the most important contribution of your thesis? Can you say it in one or two sentences?
  • What are some of the competing hypotheses? Could you think of an alternative interpretation of your findings?

16. Don’t rush to any answers. It is perfectly acceptable to think for a couple of seconds, or ask if you are on the right track. If you are not clear about the question, you are entitled to ask for clarification.

17. Try to be concise and to the point, but at the same time demonstrate that you have a good grasp of the complex issues involved. In other words, do not give superficial answers, but at the same time, do not go all over the map.

18. Put up a good defense without being defensive. Be confident without being cocky. A good defense means that you can provide strong logical arguments as well as empirical support o defend your position or conclusion. However, don’t be defensive when people criticize your study. If they are able to point out some real flaws or weaknesses in your study, accept their criticisms with humility, grace and gratitude.

19. Before the oral defense, talk to your advisor about areas of concerns based on external examiner’s comments. Then, discuss with your advisor how to best address these concerns. (Your advisor cannot tell you the specific questions the examiners will ask, but s/he can direct your attention to issues or areas that require some thinking or additional research.)

20. After the oral defense, meet with your advisor for debriefing and seek advice on how to revise your thesis.

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Department of Psychology

Psychology Intranet

Dissertation Review & Final Oral Exam (Defense)

The materials on this intranet page provide quick links to key forms and supplemental guidance on exam steps and expectations. Always follow the  step-by-step instructions and timeline provided in the  Graduate Student Handbook and  GSSP’s PhD Degree Completion Steps to meet all exam requirements, and consult your area handbook to understand area-specific expectations and norms.

The final steps to earn the PhD have three stages, which must proceed in order:

  • All committee members designated as reviewers read the full manuscript and certify that the PhD candidate can proceed to the final oral exam.
  • A public dissertation defense followed by a closed-door final oral examination by the committee is required by the graduate school. 
  • Revisions of the dissertation manuscript, if required, based on feedback from the committee; final formatting work; and deposit of the final dissertation manuscript. 

+ Structure of the Defense

The Graduate School requires all doctoral students to hold a public presentation of their dissertation projects. You may also invite colleagues, family members, and friends outside of the department. The defense should be scheduled for a two-hour period.

  • Deliver a 40-45-minute presentation on your project to the audience. Slides with speaker notes (PowerPoint, Google Slides, or similar) are strongly recommended.
  • Take questions from the audience for 10-15 minutes, ending the public presentation ~55 minutes into the first hour. The examining committee refrains from asking their questions during this time.
  • During the second hour, all but the candidate and examining committee members are dismissed from the room. The Committee asks additional questions and votes on the defense.

Important:  Consult your area handbook for any additional requirements for your area.

  • Committee Submission Workflow - Review examination committee policies and declare or update the examination committee. Submit the  semester before you plan to defend when possible.
  • Reviewer’s Report Form - initiate the electronic workflow when you distribute your dissertation manuscript to your committee. You will have the option to attach an electronic copy of your dissertation if desired. Plan to initiate this workflow  about three weeks before the defense and final oral exam when possible, but at least one week in advance.
  • Scheduling forms for GSSP and department - see  Scheduling , below.
  • Final Oral Examination Results form - the link to initiate this form for your committee chair will be emailed to you after you have scheduled your oral exam and been cleared by GSSP to proceed. 

+ Scheduling

  • Check the  Department of Psychology calendar to identify potential scheduling conflicts with departmental programming and meetings.
  • Work with your committee to determine the exam modality. If you will be holding a remote defense, review and follow the  Procedure for Holding Final Defenses Remotely .
  • The date and time of your oral defense
  • The names and emails of your committee members
  • The name of the faculty member who is serving as the chair of your committee
  • The modality of your defense (in-person, hybrid, or remote)
  • Note: In most cases, your area support person will schedule your defense in N219. If you’d prefer your defense to be scheduled in N391, N491 (Paterson-Sunnette Room), or N639, please let them know when contacting them.
  • title of your thesis
  • abstract of your thesis
  • names of your advisor(s)
  • After the form is submitted, an announcement regarding your defense will be sent to the full department before your oral exam. A reminder will be sent to the full department the day before your oral exam.
  • At least one week before your exam:
  • Schedule your oral exam with GSSP . This is separate, and in addition to, departmental scheduling.
  • All committee members designated as reviewers must read your dissertation and certify that it is ready for oral defense. This is communicated by the Reviewers’ Report Form. You will receive email notifications communicating the results. 
  • Committee chairs communicate oral exam results verbally at the end of the exam and report the results using an electronic form. You must initiate this form using the link provided in GSSP’s scheduling confirmation email. You will receive confirmation emails from GSSP when the results form has been received and processed.
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Free thesis defense presentation templates

Bring your research to life and impress the examining committee with a professional Thesis Defense Presentation template. Defend your final year project, Master’s thesis, or PhD dissertation with the help of free slides designed especially for students and academics. 

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What’s a thesis defense presentation?

As you approach the end of grad or postgrad studies, you’ll probably be required to deliver a thesis defense presentation. This takes place during the final semester and involves speaking about your thesis or dissertation in front of a committee of professors. 

The word “defend” might sound intimidating, but it simply means answering questions about your work. Examiners want to see how knowledgeable you are about your field and if you can back up your arguments with solid and original research. Some departments invite students to a pre-defense, which is like a dress rehearsal for the main event. 

If you’re defending your doctoral thesis or dissertation, the event will be more formal than at Master’s level. In some universities, this is called a PhD viva, which comes from the Latin viva voce, meaning “by live voice”. Basically, it’s time to speak about the 80 thousand words you’ve written! As well as your supervisor, the panel will usually include visiting academics from other institutions. If it’s an “open defense” it will be open to other students and members of the public.

The format varies between different universities, but a thesis defense usually starts with the candidate delivering a short presentation accompanied by slides. This is followed by a question and answer session with the panel. 

How do I design slides for my thesis defense?

The secret to a good thesis defense presentation is a well-designed slide deck. This will act as a visual aid and starting point for the conversation. Structuring your points and illustrating them on the screen will help you present more confidently. 

If the prospect of creating a thesis presentation from scratch is daunting, check out Genially’s free thesis defense templates. Each design has been created by professional graphic designers in collaboration with students and academic experts. 

Choose from hundreds of examples with preset color palettes and easy-to-edit slides. In a few minutes you can outline the content of your thesis in an impressive visual format. No artistic skills required!

How should I structure a thesis presentation?

When you create a thesis defense presentation, the first thing to remember is that it should be short and concise. There’s no need to rewrite your thesis on the slides. Members of the committee will already be familiar with your work, having read the document prior to the event. 

A thesis defense is a conversational, person-to-person event. Examiners don’t want to read large blocks of text on the screen. They want to hear you talking about your research with passion and insight.

With this in mind, your presentation should serve as a starting point or prompt for discussion. Think of your slides as cue cards: use short titles and keywords to remind you of what you want to say. 

Make a good first impression by using a professional thesis defense presentation template with a consistent theme and attractive visuals. Go for a calm color palette and neutral style. The aim is to illustrate your points while keeping the committee focused on what you’re saying. 

A thesis defense usually begins with an introductory presentation lasting 15 to 20 minutes, followed by discussion time. For a 20 minute presentation we recommend a series of about 10 slides. 

Make sure to include an introduction slide or title page that lays out what you’re going to talk about. Next, move on to each part of your thesis. Outline the problem, background and literature review, your research question, methodology and objectives, findings, conclusions, and areas for future research. 

A great thesis presentation should provide the panel with a summary of your research. For that reason, try to avoid dumping too much data or information onto your slides. Use Genially’s interactive infographics, diagrams and charts to highlight the most important points in an eye-catching visual format.

When it comes to the big day and defending your thesis, try to keep calm. Take a deep breath, introduce yourself to the committee and let your slides guide you. Your examiners will come armed with a list of questions, so the formal presentation will flow naturally into a Q&A.

How do I make a good final year project presentation?

If you’re an undergrad, you might be required to deliver a final year project presentation or dissertation presentation. It’s less formal than a graduate degree thesis defense, but the format is similar. You will be asked to present your research findings to faculty and peers with the help of slides. Your performance may count towards your final grade when you’re awarded your Bachelor’s degree.

A good presentation for a final year project should start with a title slide. At this point you should introduce your research question and explain why you chose the topic. If it’s a collaborative project, include a slide that introduces your teammates. 

The core part of your presentation should cover your methodology, findings, conclusions, and scope for future research. Wrap things up by thanking your contributors and invite your audience to ask questions.   

If you’re not sure how to make a final year project presentation, check out Genially’s free presentation slides for students. Choose from hundreds of professional templates that can be customized to any undergraduate or graduate project. With animated graphics and beautiful data visualizations, you can make standout slides in a matter of minutes.

If you’re submitting your presentation to your professor, try including interactive elements. Genially’s presentation builder allows you to embed online data, videos, audio, maps, PDFs, and hyperlinks in your slides. This can be a useful way to provide supporting evidence, sources, and additional documentation. 

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  2. TOP 15 QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED DURING FINAL ORAL DEFENSE WITH TIPS ON HOW TO ANSWER / RESEARCH

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COMMENTS

  1. The top 10 thesis defense questions (+ how to prepare strong answers)

    Crafting a thesis is significant, but defending it often feels like the ultimate test. While nerve-wracking, proper preparation can make it manageable. Prepare for your thesis defense with insights on the top questions you can expect, including strategies for answering convincingly. Contents Mastering the thesis defense: cultivate a success mindsetQuestion 1: Why did you choose

  2. 40 Thesis Defense Questions

    A thesis defense usually lasts between one and two hours, depending on the area of your research. It starts with you giving a presentation of your interest, findings, and conclusions. After you have finished, the committee members will ask you questions based not only on your presentation, but also on your written thesis as they will have read ...

  3. 17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them

    A thesis defense gives you the chance to show off your thesis work and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study. During this one- to two-hour discussion with the members of your thesis committee, you'll have some control over how you present your research, but your committee will ask you some prodding questions to test your knowledge and preparedness. They will all have read your ...

  4. 25 Thesis/Dissertation Defense Questions

    Thesis Defense Questions - Additional Resources. We hope you found this list of common thesis defense questions useful as you prepare for defending your thesis. Other articles that you may find relevant include: Top Feeders to PhD Programs; Do You Need a Master's to get a PhD? How to Write a Grad School Statement of Purpose

  5. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

    Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense: 1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them. You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions.

  6. Preparing For A Viva Voce (Dissertation Defence)

    Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a "viva voce") is a formidable task. All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you'll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you've encountered so far. It's natural to feel a little nervous.

  7. Oral Defense preparation, techniques, templates, best answers

    Oral Defense preparation, techniques, templates, best answers. By admin. November 9, 2016. Oral defense occurs towards the end of research journey. You have finished your thesis. Your advisor is happy with it. Your committee may or may not have approved it depending on your program. Now, you have to stand up in front of everyone else.

  8. PDF Preparing for a Masters Thesis Defense

    Master's Thesis Defense Appointment Form (note that this form can only be accessed by staff). Registration must occur on a date that allows 5 full working days to pass between the registration date and your actual defense date. When registering your Master's thesis, you must present a bound defense copy of your thesis to the Graduate Studies

  9. Preparing For Your Dissertation Defense (Viva Voce): 9 Questions You

    Learn about the 9 critical questions you need to be ready for as you prepare for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a viva voce or oral defense...

  10. Mastering Your Thesis Defense: An In-depth Guide

    The thesis defense is the concluding oral examination that officially rounds off the process of submitting your thesis. ... followed by a Q&A segment where the audience can pose questions and comments. ... your master's thesis defense presentation, or preparing for your Ph.D. disputation, there are certain crucial points that differentiate an ...

  11. PDF Dissertation/Thesis Oral Defense Questions

    Some general questions that are often asked at a defense include: 1. If you were to do it all over again, what changes would you make? 2. What surprises did you find in your study? 3. What was the most challenging aspect of your research? 4.

  12. List of 20 Frequently Asked Thesis Defense Questions

    1. The most common question you may be asked is what you learned from. the study you have done. You have to s um up your entire study in a few. sentences and remember the technical t erms you have ...

  13. Preparing for Your Thesis Defense: Tips & Sample Questions

    For the session with your opponent, be prepared for both big picture and detail questions, on both your written thesis and oral presentation. The following are by no means exhaustive, but just a sample of some kinds of questions that have been asked in my experience (of course your own experience may vary). It's OK to take a moment to consider ...

  14. Tamer Suggested: Top 60 Questions Frequently Asked During Thesis Defense

    May 2019. Conference: Tamer Suggested: Top 60 Questions Frequently Asked During Thesis Defense. Authors: M Jarrah. Rania Talafhah. Yarmouk University. Noraien Mansor. Taylor's University. Tamer ...

  15. 50 Top Thesis Defense Questions With Answers(2023)

    Top 25 Likely Questions and Answers for Thesis Defense (2023) The top 25 academic research defence questions that you can come across during a tutorial research defence are listed below. Please utilise this checklist to determine whether you are truly prepared for your research defence.

  16. Preparing for a Master's Defense

    A master's thesis defense committee must include your advisor, a second faculty member from your program, and a faculty member from outside of your department. A master's thesis defense uses the same rules for committee composition as PhD defense committees. However, master's thesis committees do not require a committee chair as PhD ...

  17. The Perfect Defense: The Oral Defense of a Dissertation

    Dr. Valerie Balester of Texas A&M University talks about how to prepare and what to expect when defending your dissertation.#tamu #Dissertation #Defensehttp:...

  18. Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

    The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it's so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

  19. How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

    Unlike a thesis presentation, a dissertation is submitted in written form and is typically evaluated by a committee of faculty members or experts in the field. 2. Choose which ideas to illustrate. Unless you have an hour to fill with your master thesis defense or doctorate dissertation, you won't be able to include every idea from your ...

  20. How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense with a PowerPoint Presentation

    Myth #1. "Answer all the questions correctly. Otherwise, your thesis won't get approved.". You are expected to have a focus on your research. That being said, you have to study each part of your thesis, every detail, and even your sources. You have to study and practice how to effectively deliver your presentation.

  21. How to Prepare for the Oral Defense of Your Thesis/Dissertation

    2. Be well prepared for your presentation—academically, mentally and physically. Try to be well rested and focused before your oral defense. 3. In your preparation, don't try to memorize all the studies cited in your thesis, but you do need to know the details of the few key studies that form the basis of your investigation. 4.

  22. Master Thesis Oral Defense Questions

    The document provides tips for master's students preparing for their oral thesis defense. It discusses how defending a thesis involves anticipating a wide range of challenging questions from the exam panel and being able to confidently articulate and support arguments under pressure. It recommends seeking assistance from HelpWriting.net, where experienced writers can help craft thorough ...

  23. PDF Master's Thesis Oral Defense

    The candidate's oral defense committee conducts the oral defense of the master's thesis. The defense must be held at least three weeks before the end of the quarter in which the degree is to be granted. All members of the defense committee must receive a copy of the candidate's thesis at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense.

  24. Dissertation Review & Final Oral Exam (Defense)

    Dissertation Review & Final Oral Exam (Defense) The materials on this intranet page provide quick links to key forms and supplemental guidance on exam steps and expectations. Always follow the step-by-step instructions and timeline provided in the Graduate Student Handbook and GSSP's PhD Degree Completion Steps to meet all exam requirements ...

  25. Free thesis defense presentation templates

    Templates for everything under the sun ☀️. Sign up to explore 2000+ interactive, animated designs in the Genially Template Gallery. Impress your professors with a stunning thesis defense presentation. Choose from 100s of free slide templates for Final Year Projects, Bachelor, Master & Postgrad students.

  26. Thesis

    In Portugal, a thesis is examined with an oral defense, which includes an initial presentation by the candidate followed by an extensive question and answer session. North America. In North America, the thesis defense or oral defense is the final examination for doctoral candidates, and sometimes for master's candidates.

  27. Doctor of Philosophy

    A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: philosophiae doctor or doctor philosophiae) is the most common degree at the highest academic level, awarded following a course of study and research. The degree is most often abbreviated PhD (or, at times, as Ph.D. in North America).It is derived from the Latin Philosophiae Doctor, pronounced as three separate letters (/ p iː eɪ tʃ ˈ d ...