Desk Based Dissertation Defense


There are many ways and places to search for theses and dissertations, depending on the topic or type of research you're looking for. Several of the databases that the USMA Library subscribes to include theses and dissertations, either at abstract or full-text levels. When using our subscription databases, perform a search for a subject using keywords as usual, but be on the lookout for ways to restrict your search to theses and dissertations. For example, when using Scout!, you can select "Dissertations and Theses" under the "Source Type" heading in the left margin of the webpage. If you do so, the ONLY results that will be returned from your search will be dissertations and theses.

While a few databases - namely, ProQuest - include dissertations and theses on a wide range of topics, it's usually best to select a database that caters to your specific subject area when searching for a thesis or dissertation. For example, if your area of interest is the social sciences, you may wish to try searching the database SocINDEX with Full Text, where you can limit your search to "Dissertations" under "Document Type." Use the Library's Subject Heading list of databases to narrow your selection to those that cover your specific area of interest.

For military topics, one database you should always search is DTIC (the Defense Technical Information Center).  DTIC includes publications, reports, theses, dissertations, white papers, and many other publications by members of the military or defense industries, especially those individuals who are completing advanced coursework in a DoD program such as the Army War College, the Naval Postgraduate School, or the Strategic Studies Institute. Papers written in pursuit of those educational programs are often the equivalent of theses and dissertations completed for non-DoD schools.

General information

  • Doctoral research at Flemish universities usually takes a minimum of 4 years. The end point is marked by the public defense of your doctoral dissertation or doctoral exam.

After having submitted your doctoral disseration, the faculty will decide if you can be admitted for the doctoral defense. This consists of two parts:

  1. a first 'closed' assessment by the Examination Board, where the Phd student is heard
  2. the public defense

Certain doctoral students are required to successfully complete the doctoral training programme prior to the defense.

Are you enrolled correctly?

Check in OASIS if you have enrolled correctly for the current academic year. 

Concluding the doctoral training programme

In order to obtain the certificate of the doctoral training programme, you need to ask the Doctoral School for a final check of your curriculum, 20 working days  before submitting your doctoral dissertation. The Doctoral School then formulates an advice to your Faculty on the doctoral training programme.

Submitting your doctoral dissertation to your Faculty

The timing and the procedure for submitting your dissertation can differ from Faculty to Faculty, please check the Faculty's website for this.

Procedure in general (all Faculties)

  1. You submit your dissertation to the Faculty Board in the required number of copies, together with the advice of the Doctoral Guidance Committee or the PhD supervisor. This advice includes a clause regarding the status of valorisable research results.
  2. The Faculty Board examines if your thesis is admissable. If a compulsory doctoral training programme was required at the start of your doctoral research, the Faculty Board will examine whether you have completed the programme successfully in a timely manner (based on the advice of the Doctoral School). If you meet all formal requirements, an exam committee will be appointed. The committee consists of 5 to 8 voring members, who test the knowledge and competences of the doctoral student. The PhD supervisor can participate in the exam committee without voring rights.
  3. The exam itself consists of a closed session and a public defense.

First meeting of the Exam Committee

Since 2015-2016, a first, closed meeting by the exam committee is required in each faculty. This should take place between 30 and 90 days after submission of the doctoral dissertation. The PhD student is also heard during this meeting. This committee evaluates the quality of the dissertation and decides whether you can be admitted to the public defense, possibly after making changes to your disseration.

Each doctoral student receives a copy of the reports of the exam committee members and receives a copy of the deliberation report, after this meeting.

Public defense

Announcement of the defense

After you have been admitted to the public defense, the Faculty Student Administration sends the announcement of the defense to the Registrar's Office, which publishes it on the portal (PhD Defenses). This usually happens 60 days after the first meeting of the Exam Committee.

Tuition fee / Invoice

The financial system of the Registrar's Office (Oasis Fica) sends an e-mail to your UGent e-mail address with an invoice for the tuition fee for the defense attached.

Attention: the doctoral diploma (and possibly the certificate of the doctoral training programme) can only be delivered after receiving the tuition fee! Therefore, make sure that you pay the tuition fee before the doctoral defense, even though your invoice may have a later due date.

If the department pays your tuition fee (internal payment), the department needs to create an internal order form in SAP and mail it to Information for the department: article number 3000033, department code CA10, amount of the tuition fee for the defense (see invoice). The doctoral diploma (and possibly the certificate of the doctoral training programme) can be delivered after receipt of internal order form.


The oral defense takes place in the presence of the Exam Committee and the public. this usually happens in Dutch or English. After the oral defense, in which you explained your defense and answered questions, the Exam Committee deliberates.


The proclamation follows immediately after the deliberation. If you have passed, you may carry the title of 'doctor'.  If applicable, the Exam Committee also declares you have successfully completed the doctoral training programme.

Diploma, certificate and diploma supplement

The Registrar's Office draws up the diploma and the certificate of the doctoral training programme.

Usually, these documents are awarded and handed over immediately after the defense. Should this not be the case, you can collect the documents at the Registrar's Office. If you are still working at Ghent University, you can request that your diploma/certificate is sent to you with internal registered mail (to your working address). The diploma and certificate can also be collected by a proxy, you have assigned.

The Faculty Student Administration draws up the diploma supplement and, if applicable, the certificate supplement.

Usually, these are given to you immediately after the public defense. Should this not be the case, you can collect the documents at the Faculty Student Administration.

Electronic version at the University Library

You must deposit your dissertation in the Academic Bibliographic and Institutional Repository of Ghent University ('Biblio').

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