This exception allows you to enroll in a special one-credit placeholder for your final semester to defend your thesis or dissertation, instead of a regular three-credit course as is normally required to receive your degree.

To qualify, you must:

  • Have been enrolled in at least three credits for the previous semester.

  • Have completed all degree requirements except for your final exam.

  • Submit a final thesis or dissertation to your committee during the first three weeks of the semester. Your committee must read it and agree that it’s ready for you to defend by the Friday of the third week of classes.

  • Submit a Start-of-Semester Defense Exception form by the Friday of the third week of classes or no later than three weeks prior to your exam, whichever comes first.

  • Submit your ETD within two weeks of your exam date.

International students using this exception must defend by the end of the fifth week of the semester and submit an ETD no more than two weeks after their exam to maintain immigration status. You must also complete the Request for Reduced Enrollment form to get approval for less than full time enrollment status.

2017-2018 Commencement Deadlines for Start-of-Semester Defense (SSDE)

Term Submit Form Apply for Degree in HokieSPA Submit Final Exam Request Final Exam Submit ETD
Fall By Sept. 15, or no later than 3 weeks prior to your exam, whichever comes first When you file for SSDE At least 2 weeks before final exam Within the first 5 weeks of the semester (by Sept. 29) Up to 2 weeks after exam, no later than Oct. 13.
Spring By Feb. 2, or no later than 3 weeks prior to your exam, whichever comes first When you file for SSDE At least 2 weeks before final exam Within the first 5 weeks of the semester Up to 2 weeks after exam
Summer I and II By Aug. 10, or no later than 3 weeks before exam When you file for SSDE At least 2 weeks before final exam Within the first 5 weeks of the semester Up to 2 weeks after exam