Timeline for Filing your Dissertation and Graduating

The original version of this document is by Matthew d'Alessio, a 2004 graduate of EPS

Graduate Division: Guide to Submitting a Dissertation.

The folks at the Graduate Division are very nice and can answer all your questions at Graduate Degrees, 318 Sproul Hall. Phone: (510) 642-7330, E-mail: degrees@berkeley.edu (if you send an e-mail to this address, you will get an autoresponse that redirects you to this website)

Task Recommended Time Before Filing Absolute Minimum
Advance to Candidacy
Video instructions on how to complete this form, which is now electronic
Within 1 semester after you pass your qualifying exam. 2 weeks?
Name Correction
Your name on your dissertation must appear EXACTLY as it appears in the University Records.
To check your name in University records, use CalCentral. Go to the “Basic Information” tab in your profile (click on your picture).
Fill out a name correction form at the Registrar's office on the first floor of Sproul. Bring a valid driver's license with your name correctly spelled. Note that a name CORRECTION is different than a name CHANGE, and there are separate forms for each.
(If your name is too long or has special characters like an apostrophe, special accommodations can be made. I was able to contact Karen Denton, Assistant Registrar to clear things up, but everyone else at the office had to check with her).
NOW! 2 weeks
Filing Fee Application [optional]
Pros: Your advisor does not have to pay tuition. Absolute deadline for you and your advisor. As of 2004, you can now be paid as a “Junior Specialist” while on Filing Fee, so you can still get a salary equivalent to your previous salary.
Cons: Absolute deadline for you and your advisor. Can only be used once or you have to re-apply for admission. You must pay 1/2 of the University registration fee from your own pocket (Filing fee was $243 in 2012). No Class Pass, no Student Health Insurance (can be purchased for ~$2,500 for one additional semester), reduced library privileges, no RSF Student Membership.
Graduate Division: Filing Fee Application
Graduate Division: Filing Fee FAQ (note: slightly out of date…)
By the end of 1st week of semester 2 weeks
Pay All Fees (including filing fee) At beginning of semester 24 hours (for the system to acknowledge payment)
Think About Your Cap And Gown
You can purchase the tam, gown, and tassel at the student store. The store, by default, has a package that contains the stole and the hood as well but your advisor will buy your hood (ask Dexter if she has not approached you about this). Make sure to ask at the register to purchase your gown/tam/tassel separately (stole is optional). The alternatives are to borrow a fancy gown from a former graduate (there's actually a “spare” or two in Dexter's office), or to buy/rent a fancy gown from a third party e.g., CapGown.com.
2 months before graduation ??
Get Permission to Include Previously Published or Co-authored Material
The dissertation guide states: “If you plan more than incidental use of your own previously published or co-authored material in your dissertation – a practice common in the sciences and engineering and sometimes followed in other fields – you must have prior permission from the Dean of the Graduate Division.” Technically, you must send the Dean a packet with:
1. A letter from your advisor (dissertation chair) stating that he/she wants you to include the material in your dissertation. This letter must list by name the individual papers that you want to include in your dissertation (my advisor's original letter left out this information and the dean sent it back).
2. A letter from each coauthor on the previously published work granting you permission to use it. Printed emails from each coauthor are now accepted; their signatures are not required.
3. A copy of each previously published manuscript.
Some students have found that a letter from their adviser worked as a substitute for letters from co-authors, but other students who have sent a letter to the dean and not gotten all of their co-authors' signatures HAVE had problems. (Still other students have ignored this requirement entirely and simply kept mum about the previously published material. Doing this is, of course, against the rules, and risky, but there exist graduated Berkeley Ph.D.s who have taken this route. There also exist non-astronomy Berkeley students who have had their PhDs revoked for violating this rule. Relatedly, the Grad Division now runs dissertations through plagiarism-detection systems.)
For papers published in ApJ, AJ, and MNRAS the Journal has already granted you permission to reproduce the paper, so you should not have to do anything about copyright. Call ProQuest at (800) 521-0600 if you are not sure.
1 month 3 weeks for contacting co-authors, 2 weeks for submitting packet
Get tickets to graduation
The physics department will send you a note asking how many tickets you want for friends and family. They cost around $5, and you can usually get extras later if you need them.
Requests are due about 3 weeks before graduation ??
Give to Committee Members
First, make sure your committee members will be in town around the time you want to submit your thesis (see below approval page signing; they have to sign this physically). Be sure to send an e-mail explaining to them: 1) What chapters are already published (in other words, chapters they do not have to read carefully), 2) What sort of comments would be most valuable on each chapter, and 3) THE DEADLINE for getting it back to you. Make the deadline appear at both the top and the bottom of the page in font at least twice as large as the rest of the letter. And don't forget to thank them profusely for their time.
1 month 1 week, but anything less than 2 weeks could be considered rude
Approval Page Signing
Faculty are notoriously bad about forgetting about deadlines for signing dissertations. Allow about 1 week extra before any absolute deadline (end of semester, start of new job, plane trip out of country). Lie to your committee about the deadline. If they do not believe you, lie to them again and say that you are leaving the country and that the deadline is sooner. It will take longer than it should.
1 week 15 minutes to 2 weeks, depending upon how hard it is to track down your committee members
Submit PDF online
You have to submit a PDF online to "ProQuest", which is a clearing house for all dissertations around the country. You will be notified via email if/when your dissertation has been accepted by the University.
1 week 4 business days
Fill out surveys
There are 2 surveys you must fill out and one release form. Follow steps 4 and 5 in the “Procedure for filing your dissertation” step outlined here.
2 days You can do this when you file, though you will have to fill out the forms in their office before you finish. It takes about 20 minutes minimum.
Submit in 318 Sproul
Hours: 9am - noon, closed during lunch, 1pm - 4pm.
You will need:
One copy of your approval page complete with original signatures
The 2 surveys and release form
1 hour 10 minutes, but at the end of the semester the lines can get really long.
Dissertation Binding
You may want to give copies to all your friends and family. The cheapest route is to get it photocopied and bound in a plastic binding at Copy Central for a few dollars each. You can order fancy bound versions with acid-free paper and free color printing from ProQuest when you file your dissertation (or afterwards, via an additional form) for ~$50 each, with small discounts for large orders. If you have a long dissertation with many color figures, ProQuest is by far the cheapest option; however, they take 3-4 months to fill your order. Other on-line binding places also exist (e.g. http://www.phdbookbinding.com/ for $30-100 per copy, depending upon the length of the dissertation, the number of copies, and the options you choose). Alternatively, you can support the local book bindery for a bit more money (~$65), but a lot more personal service at Pettingell's at 2181 Bancroft Way in Berkeley (just below Oxford), 510.845.3653. Copy Central on Bancroft also offers hardcover binding (which is a factor of ~2 cheaper than Pettingell's), but their sample books are of noticeably low quality, and the employees do not seem to be knowledgeable about hardcover binding options. If you care about having a guaranteed good-quality hardcover copy, Pettingell's is probably the best bet. Many advisors do not care about having a fancy hardcover copy and prefer that you not waste your money. The same is true of many committee members. However, discuss the matter with them directly because some of them might even offer to pay to get the bound copy.
Allow 3-4 months for ProQuest, 2-3 weeks for other options, but this can all be down AFTER you are a doctor! Copy Central can do softcover binding while you wait. This option is nice if you want a copy to show off at commencement.