Home > Master's and Doctoral theses > Thesis defence


The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies authorizes in-person Doctoral theses defences and online defences with Zoom or Webex.

Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and modalities of thesis defences (in French only).

Doctoral thesis defence

The Doctoral thesis defence is the final step in evaluating the research presented in your thesis. Once the evaluation committee has authorized the defence, it usually takes place within 30 days. The purpose of the defence is to:

  • Confirm that the work is your own and reach a definitive assessment
  • Test your oral communication skills

A doctoral thesis defence is, with rare exceptions, a public event open to students and faculty members from your program, department, and faculty, as well as to your guests. Your must be physically present at the defence venue.

The defence must take place at least 10 days after you receive your evaluation reports to allow you sufficient time to prepare.

The defence must be conducted in French unless otherwise agreed.

Preparing your Doctoral thesis defence

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers tools to help doctoral candidates prepare their defence.

Defending your thesis online

Online defences must be conducted using the Zoom or Webex platforms.

Whether the defence is in person or online, the procedure is essentially the same: a 20- to 30-minute presentation of the dissertation followed by questions from evaluation committee members, committee deliberations, and the announcement of the decision.

How it works

A typical defence lasts about two hours, including the announcement of the decision. Except in very special cases, the decision is made on the spot.

The defence quorum is the majority of committee members. Ideally the external examiner should be present (physically or via teleconference). If there is no quorum, the defence will be delayed or postponed.

The defence chair will first invite you to briefly present your dissertation (20 to 30 minutes). Each member of the committee then has the opportunity to speak. There are usually two rounds of questions.

The defence chair and the committee members retire to deliberate.

The defence may be accepted or rejected, either by unanimous decision or majority vote.

At the end of the defence, the evaluation committee will issue a certificate indicating the official result and the nature of the decision (unanimous or by majority vote).


The Doctoral thesis is accepted.

FESP sends you the defence certificate and invites you to proceed with the final submission after making final corrections under the guidance of your supervisor.

The Doctoral thesis is rejected.

You have a right to appeal to the dean of FESP if you can show circumstances or make arguments that invalidate the evaluation process. The final decision of the committee cannot, in itself, be appealed (Academic Regulations, 4.47). If you do not file an appeal during the prescribed period, a “fail” grade will be entered in your file.