Graduation/FPO FAQ

This page provides (unofficial) information about the graduation process for (mostly PhD) graduate students.

Quick Links
Graduate School:
Academic Forms
Degree Application & Completion Process
Degree Deadlines
Hooding and Commencement
Academic Regalia
Mudd Library:
Dissertation Requirements and Submission
Housing Forms
Jeff Dwoskin’s LaTeX Thesis Template
Smith-Shattuck Bookbinding

Non-Terminal Master’s Degree

How do I get a Master’s diploma?
If you are a PhD candidate and have passed Generals, you can request a Master’s diploma. First, check with your Program Administrator to see if your Department takes care of this for you. If not, you can request one online through SCORE. The type of degree depends on your program, but is generally a Master of Arts. If you recently passed Generals, contact your Program Administrator beforehand to make sure the Graduate School has been notified of your new status.

Is there a ceremony for passing Generals or earning a Master’s degree?
The Graduate School hosts a “Post-Generals Celebration” in late May for all graduate students who passed Generals during the current academic year. Don’t forget to RSVP beforehand.

Graduation / FPO

When are degrees actually awarded?
Degrees are officially awarded on only a few dates (usually 5) each year. See the Graduate School’s summary of Degree Deadlines.

I’m ready to graduate. How should I get started?
So you and your adviser(s) think it’s time to graduate? Congratulations! First, you should be aware that the graduation process is a little different for each department. We recommend that you start by contacting your department’s Program Administrator. (Don’t know who your Program Administrator is? Look here.) They are usually the best resource on the usual procedure for your department, and are the best equipped to help you through the administrative process. They will inform the Graduate School of your intent to graduate, and you should be added to an e-mail list about graduation matters (e.g., upcoming regalia discount).

Next, get started with the Checklist for PhD Defense. This is the official checklist of all the forms and requirements for your defense. If you haven’t already, make sure to go over Mudd’s Dissertation Requirements at an early stage of writing. If you are planning to walk at Hooding and Commencement, make sure to get the Hooding Checklist. Graduation involves many forms; we strongly recommend that you keep copies of all forms you complete!

What are the steps prior to my defense / FPO (final public oral)? How long does it take? What does it cost?
The steps are outlined in the Checklist for PhD Defense from Academic Forms. In general, the process of organizing your defense should begin at least 2 months before the actual date (if not earlier). This is in addition to the time it takes to write your dissertation. Here’s an (unofficial) summary of the steps outlined in the Checklist for PhD Defense:
~2 Months Before: While finishing your dissertation, make sure to finalize an FPO Committee and confirm two Readers from your Department. Work with your Program Administrator to make sure your Committee’s makeup satisfies your Department’s requirements, and to finalize an FPO date and location.
~6 Weeks Before: Give your Readers copies of your dissertation early, so that you both have enough time for the reading/editing process before the Readers’ Reports are due. How early depends on your Readers and your Department (e.g., for some Departments, 1 month is too short).
2 Weeks Before: Several forms and items must be turned in to your Department and/or Clio Hall: FPO Request Form and an Advanced Degree Application (online), which includes a title page for your dissertation, an abstract for your dissertation, Prior Presentation and Publication Form(signed by your advisor), and two Readers’ Reports. One bound or final copy (and usually an electronic copy) of your dissertation is also due to your Department, which will be placed “on Deposit.”
3 Days Before: An FPO authorization memo must be posted in your Department at least 3 days (not counting Sunday) before your FPO.
Day of FPO: Defend! After your defense, make sure that either the Chair of your FPO Committee or your DGS signs your FPO Exam Report. Submit your dissertation to ProQuest online, and print the confirmation page. One bound and one electronic copy of your dissertation are then due at Mudd library, along with the submission fees. Make sure to bring your original FPO Exam Report and a photocopy, along with the ProQuest confirmation page, to Mudd library. While at the library, make sure a librarian also signs your FPO Exam Report. Note that if your Committee requests changes to your dissertation, you must submit corrected copies within two weeks. Complete the Survey of Earned Doctoratesand Exit Questionnaire online, and print their confirmation pages. Finally, turn in the FPO Exam Report and two confirmation pages at Clio Hall.
Afterwards: If you are enrolled, your End of Enrollment Form is due within one week of your official enrollment termination date. Again, if your Committee requested changes to your dissertation, you must submit corrected copies within two weeks of your FPO.

Aside from regalia, you will need to pay for the printing and binding of your dissertation as well as its copyright and publishing fees (see below for costs).

How does Graduating affect my on-campus Princeton housing?
In general, once your Enrollment ends, your housing expires in 1 month (or less for GC/Annex). When planning your Defense, make sure you work with your Program Administrator and with Housing to check how your on-campus housing will be affected. In particular, be careful with summer housing. If you’re not, you might have to find temporary housing just prior to your FPO! If you are graduating in the Spring or Summer, you can try to extend your housing with a Graduate Apartment Extension Request, available at Housing Forms. While we’re on this subject, before you leave Princeton, take a look at Housing’s Moving Out page for a move-out checklist, etc.

The Dissertation

Where can I find a quiet location to write, and what are Dissertation Boot Camps and Writing Sessions?
Princeton Point keeps an updated listing of study spaces under its Academics tab (sign-in required). If you are looking for a week-long, structured writing session in a group setting, the Writing Program and Graduate School organize several Dissertation Boot Camps (in Whitman College) and Dissertation Writing Sessions (in Frick) each year. Boot Camps require a commitment to a fixed schedule through an initial deposit, which is returned if you attend all sessions, while Writing Sessions are free and more flexible.

What can I find the formatting requirements for my dissertation?
Right here. Make sure whatever electronic file format you choose can meet the formatting requirements, can be converted to PDF, and is compatible with your choice of printing method.

Is there a LaTeX template I can use to write my dissertation?
While there is no official template, there are several unofficial versions circulating. A particularly well documented thesis template is available from a past member of the GSG: Jeff Dwoskin’s Thesis Template (local copy).

Where can I find help with writing and revising my dissertation?
Stop by during drop-in hours or make an appointment at the Writing Center.

How do I print and bind my dissertation?
Follow Mudd’s requirements. Printing and binding are two separate processes. You may print your dissertation yourself, if you make sure to use the correct paper (inexpensive paper can be found online), or you can pay for printing, for example, at Triangle on Nassau St. Princeton Pandakeeps a list of local printing options. For binding, beware that “machine over sewing” with Class A cloth or buckram library binding is required for your dissertation. Smith-Shattuck Bookbinding (up Rt. 206) is the closest and most frequently used binder for dissertations. You may drop off your unbound pages directly at Smith-Shattuck, or leave them for pick-up at Triangle on Nassau St. (who uses Smith-Shattuck). Binding usually takes 3-4 days, unless you pay extra for next-day service.

How much does printing / binding / submitting a dissertation cost, and are there funds available?
The cost depends on many things, including the length of your thesis, the number of color vs non-color pages, and the publishing and copyright options you choose. As of Fall 2011, Mudd requires only one bound copy and one electronic copy (PDF copy burned on a CD). Commercial printing and copying can be expensive, and is typically $0.10 per black and white page and $1.10 per color page. You can save money if you purchase suitable paper yourself (available online), and print yourself. Smith-Shattuck Bookbinding should cost around $35.00 per bound copy, unless you expedite service. Finally, when you submit your dissertation to Mudd, you have to pay a submission fee which, depending on your choice of publishing and copyright options, is between $15.00 and $165.00. All together, the cost can easily reach $300 or more. As for funding, you are most likely on your own. However, it is worth asking your adviser or department to see if funding is available (don’t be shy!).

Does Princeton host PhD dissertations online?
As of Fall 2011, Princeton will officially host electronic copies of dissertations online at Princeton’s DataSpace. There is no additional cost to you for this service. Note that all new dissertations will be hosted online. In some circumstances (e.g., have a publishing contract in hand, or a patent pending), you may request in advance a delay in the publishing of your dissertation at DataSpace (and the pdf copy at ProQuest) of up to 6 months or so.

What about open access publication?
When choosing ProQuest publishing options, please note that your dissertation will be publicly available online at DataSpace. This hosting serves as open access publishing at no extra cost, and does not require the extra fee for ProQuest open access publication. However, please note that Princeton retains copyright protection on the dissertations hosted at DataSpace. For more information about copyright, go here.

Hooding, Commencement, and Regalia

What do I need to do so that I can walk in May?
Follow the Hooding Checklist, available at the Hooding and Commencement page.

How many guests may I bring to the Hooding ceremony?
Previously, when the ceremony was held at McCarter Theater, you could request up to 2 tickets for guests. As of Spring 2011, the ceremony has been moved to the Princeton Stadium, and so there is no ticket limit. However, if there is poor weather, the ceremony will be moved back to McCarter, with a temporary 2-ticket limitation. In any case, there should be an (air-conditioned) overflow location(s) for guests with live coverage.

How much does Academic Regalia (cap and gown) cost, and is there a discount?
Pricing depends on the type of regalia you choose. “Standard” regalia is usually less than $100.00, but “faculty” quality regalia costs up to roughly $900.00. For ordering information, see the Graduate School’s page on Academic Regalia. There is a limited-time discounted sale (usually 10%) of the faculty regalia at Clio Hall that is advertised in the Hooding Checklist, which is linked on the upper right of the Hooding & Commencementpage.

Alumni Email and Transcripts

What happens to my email account after graduation?
Your “” email account usually ends 4 months after you graduate (details here). You can ask OIT to forward email from that account for up to 1 year after graduation.

Can I get an alumni email address?
Yes, the Alumni Association of Princeton University offers complimentary “” addresses for graduate alumni. Go hereand click on “Alumni Registration” to setup your account. You can ask OIT to forward email to this account from your previous “” account for up to 1 year.

After my enrollment has ended, how do I request a transcript?
Alumni can request transcripts online here. Alumni transcripts should serve as a proof of your degree.

Comments? Questions? Requests? Know something that the GSG does not?!
Please email the GSG; we want to hear from you!