How to Graduate

last updated May 2024

1. Read the instructions

The description of the university-level process for graduating is described here, including this important checklist. Note that the Application for Graduation is now available as an electronic (Kauli) form, rather than having to fill out a PDF.

Note that if you do not submit a Final Oral Examination form (step 4 on the checklist) in advance of your defense, you may be required to do your defense twice.  

As part of the graduation process, there are 3 relevant deadlines each semester that must be fulfilled:

  • applying for the degree (mid-September, mid-January, or early June)
  • holding the final examination (late-October, late-March, or early June)
  • submitting the dissertation to Graduate Division (early November, early April, or early July)

with the dates in parentheses corresponding to the deadlines for fall, spring, and summer semesters, respectively. (For the fall and spring semesters, the last two deadlines can be extended to the end of the semester, upon consultation with the Graduate Chair.) Check the UHM academic calendar for the exact deadlines for each academic year.

Eligibility for a tuition waiver each semester requires 12 weeks of enrollment. If you plan to graduate earlier in the semester that this timeframe, then you are not eligible for a waiver. Therefore, in addition to the usual student fees, you must pay for 1 credit of graduate tuition (corresponding to ASTR 800), with the credit cost listed here.

If you plan to graduate during the summer (i.e. at the August commencement), you must register for one credit of ASTR 800 for the full summer session. Please follow the instructions here.

2. Schedule your dissertation talk

When you have a good idea of when you will be ready to give your dissertation talk, work with your committee to find a suitable date and time. As with all things involving scheduling multiple faculty, it is best to do this as far in advance as possible.

The Office of Graduate Education requires at least three weeks advance notice so that the exam may be announced in the University calendar. You should notify Graduate Division using the Final Oral Examination form described in the aforementioned checklist.

Please also email the Graduate Chair once the date is set.

3. Give your committee a copy of the dissertation

To ensure that committee members have time for review of the dissertation, candidates are required to submit a complete draft to their committee members at least 14 days before the final exam. In addition, it is highly encouraged to submit completed versions of individual chapters to the committee as they become available in advance of this deadline.

The dissertation submitted to the committee members must be in final format, even if the candidate expects to make revisions after the examination. In particular, it should contain:

  • an abstract describing the work in the dissertation
  • an introduction placing the work in context and outlining the chapters which follow
  • chapters presenting the original research
  • figure captions giving enough detail for the reader to understand the figures
  • complete references for each work cited

4. Deliver your dissertation talk (a.k.a. Final Exam)

The examination format is for the student to present their dissertation research in the form of a ~45 minute colloquium open to the public. The chair then invites members of the audience to ask general questions about the candidate’s talk. The committee then holds a closed-door discussion with the student. Finally the committee meets in executive session to decide whether the candidate has passed the examination and if any modifications are required before the dissertation be accepted.

All members of the doctoral committee must be present at the final examination, either in person or remotely (on Zoom). Prior approval is not required for remote participation.

5. Epilogue: Paperwork & proof of graduation

Follow the instructions on Graduate Division’s checklist to make sure all your paperwork is wrapped up. If this is not done in a timely fashion, your graduation may be delayed by one semester.

  • Doctorate Form III (Final Examination and Approval of Dissertation)
  • Doctorate Form IV (Dissertation Submission).
  • Survey of Earned Doctorate
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Submission of final version of the dissertation to ETD ProQuest

If you require proof of graduation once you are done, this process normally requires 8-10 weeks after the end of the semester.