Graduate School policy updates

Public defense of dissertation policy update in response to COVID-19 threat

In order to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, the Graduate School is temporarily relaxing the requirements for the public defense of the dissertation.

The new, temporary policy for the public defense of dissertation

  1. Doctoral students are still required to give a presentation of their dissertation research to their committee. However, they are not required to hold an in-person defense nor are they required to invite the public. 
  2. The Graduate School recommends that the dissertation defense be conducted virtually using Zoom or other comparable video conferencing software. Students are encouraged, but not required, to invite relevant faculty members, students and members of the public to view and participate remotely in the presentation.
  3. The virtual presentation of the dissertation research should be followed by a private defense involving only the student and the committee. The private defense should also be conducted remotely, using video conferencing software.
  4. Graduating doctoral students are still required to submit details of the dissertation defense, including, student name, dissertation title, date of defense and major advisor name/email address to the Graduate School via an online submission form at least 5 business days prior to the holding of the defense. Location and time of the defense are longer be required.

For those inexperienced with remote conferencing, Zoom is a video conferencing tool that can be used for live class sessions, presentations by guest lecturers, instructor office hours, or interactions between students and peers. Zoom allows you to conduct class or hold meetings in a live online format using a web camera and microphone while sharing the contents of your screen. It features the ability to share your screen, a chat function, a virtual whiteboard, breakout rooms for smaller discussions, and allows you to record your sessions. 

TLT has purchased an enterprise license for Zoom which will be provided to students, staff, and faculty at no charge.

The new, temporary policy for the public defense of the master’s thesis

If your graduate program requires a public defense of the master’s thesis, please follow the same guidelines recently announced by the Graduate School for the public defense of the doctoral dissertation. These guidelines are provided below. The one exception is that the online submission of defense details for the UNR calendar is not required for master’s theses (it still is required for the dissertation defense). 

  1. Master’s students whose graduate programs require a public defense of the thesis are still required to give a presentation of their thesis research to their committee. However, they are not required to hold an in-person defense nor are they required to invite the public. 
  2. The Graduate School recommends that the thesis defense be conducted virtually using Zoom or other comparable video conferencing software. Students are encouraged, but not required, to invite relevant faculty members, students and members of the public to view and participate remotely in the presentation. 
  3. The virtual presentation of the thesis research should be followed by a private defense involving only the student and the committee. The private defense should also be conducted remotely, using video conferencing software.

Approved changes in effect for 2019-2020 academic year

The following Graduate School policies have been recently updated and are currently in effect for the 2019-2020 academic year. Please note that while some updates are reflected in the University catalog, not every approved change reflects in the current catalog. 

  1. All doctoral programs that require a dissertation are now required to hold both a public and a private defense of the dissertation. The public defense, which precedes the private defense, must be announced in the University events calendar. The doctoral student or student’s committee chair/major advisor must submit details of the dissertation defense, including, student name, dissertation title, date/time, defense location and major advisor name/email address to the Graduate School via an online submission form at least 10 business days prior to the holding of the defense.
  2. The minimum number of units required by the Graduate School for a non-thesis master’s degree has been reduced from 32 credits to 30 credits. Individual graduate programs may retain the 32-credit requirement if they so choose.
  3. The number of credits that are allowed to be transferred or shared between graduate special and degree programs (master’s and doctoral) has been increased from 9 to 12.
  4. Doctoral students who have completed a master’s degree in an appropriate discipline from an accredited institution may, with the approval of their graduate director, transfer up to twenty-four (24) units toward a Ph.D. degree. The twenty-four (24) unit limit does not apply to students earning a master’s degree en route to a doctoral degree at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Approved changes taking effect in 2020-2021 academic year

  1. Incoming international graduate students are no longer required by the Graduate School to take the Bridge Test. The Bridge Test is recommended but not required. However, individual graduate programs may still require the Bridge Test if they so choose.

If you have questions regarding any of the policy changes, please contact Kara Cleveland, Director of Graduate School Operations at  karac@unr.edu.