PhD Degree

Students should consult the Graduation Checklist for detailed instructions on preparing for the dissertation defense and applying for graduation.

Before Dissertation Defense
  1. Consult the Graduate Degrees section of the Penn Provost’s Office for important information on degree requirements, deadlines, and applying for graduation.
  2. Complete online application for degree.
  3. Sent the dissertation abstract to the Director of Advising and Student Affairs at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. If you would like the website announcement to include your picture (recommended), please send at this time as well.
  4. Print and bring forms 154 and 155 to your defense if held in person. If the defense is held remotely, the Director of Advising and Student Affairs will email forms to the committee. The University Acceptance of Dissertation Form will be initiated by the Director of Advising and Student Affairs.
Day of Dissertation Defense
  1. Get academic certification forms signed by ALL dissertation committee members and readers *
    • Form 154 
    • Form 155 (only fill in name and Chair signature fields)

*Note: dissertation committee members and readers should not wait until revisions are completed to sign these forms. 

After Dissertation Defense

  1. Bring academic certification forms (with all committee member / reader signatures) to the Director of Advising and Student Affairs, who will coordinate signatures from the Graduate Group Chair and Dean.
  2. Schedule an exit interview with the Chair-Elect of the Graduate Group in Nursing.
  3. Check bursar bill and pay any outstanding balance.
  4. Consult the Doctoral Dissertation Manual for complete details on formatting the dissertation, paper and printing requirements, and copyright information. (Note: the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences is very strict about formatting, so please review their materials carefully.)
  5. Review the University’s Open Access Publication of Dissertations policy. If you wish to delay publication of your dissertation, you must indicate the appropriate choice when submitting your dissertation electronically.
  6. Complete online application  for degree (if not done before the defense).
  7. Complete all required revisions to the satisfaction of the committee. The Dissertation Chair must email notification that revisions are completed to the Director of Advising and Student Affairs.
  8. Schedule your Dissertation Deposit Appointment. Please note that all dissertation and exit interview requirements must be met before going to the dissertation deposit appointment - however, you can schedule the appointment prior to completing the requirements.

 Graduate Division email 


Other requirements
  • Complete the School of Nursing application for diploma. This will be sent by the Office of Student Information each term. Please note that this is separate from the Graduate Division application for degree.
  • Plan for the graduation ceremony - order regalia, order tickets to the School of Nursing ceremony, confirm who will be hooding you, etc. Information will be emailed each spring by the Office of Student Services.

Graduation Ceremonies

The School of Nursing recognizes three graduation times: December, May and August. There is only one graduation ceremony , in May.  Students who graduated in August or December of the previous calendar year are invited back to participate in the May ceremony. 

Students who will complete the requirements for their degree in time for the upcoming August degree cycle may also march in the May ceremony, provided that they meet the conditions outlined below. Students who expect to complete the degree in August who wish to participate in the May ceremony must notify the Office of Student Services by April 1st, and must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Must have completed all degree requirements with the exception of the final dissertation defense.
  • Must have set a confirmed defense date that meets the deadlines for the August degree.
  • Must have the support of their Dissertation Chair that an August degree is feasible (in most cases, this should be defined as having a draft of the full dissertation by the April 1st date).

The student should notify the Office of Student Services of their intention to participate in the May ceremony by April 1. This notification should be sent as an email to the Director of Advising and Student Affairs, with a copy to the Dissertation Chair and the Graduate Group Chair, and must include the exact defense date. The Dissertation Chair must also confirm that the student has met the conditions listed above.

 Degree dates can be found in the Calendar for Degree Candidates .

PhD Hooding

Graduates are responsible for either renting or purchasing their own academic regalia. More information will be distributed via email each year.  

Students wear their full regalia to the University Commencement but are officially hooded by their Chair, the Chair’s designee, or the Graduate Group in Nursing Chair at the School of Nursing ceremony.