This is the public part of the final exam or “thesis defense”, and consists of a one-hour seminar on all or part of the work that is contained in the thesis. This public presentation with a question and answer session typical for a normal seminar is followed by a closed-door private final oral exam with the student's committee members that can take between one to two hours. Seminars are usually given in ALS 4001 to a large audience but the Final Exam is typically held in the BB conference room (ALS 2040).

Students MUST schedule the time and place of their final exam well in advance, as for the other two important committee meetings. This is one of three meetings that must be scheduled with the Graduate School and the Graduate Council Representative must be present. Students also need to schedule the public defense seminar with the department office so that staff will be able to distribute e-mails and fliers so that the whole Department can attend. Students must obtain permission from their major professor to schedule this seminar, and again they must coordinate a block of time so that all members of the committee can attend the seminar and participate in the final examination. Copies (ideally hard copies and electronic files, e.g. MS Word format) of the thesis MUST be submitted to the members of the committee at least two weeks prior to the seminar and the subsequent exam. Again, this must be scheduled well in advance.