Thesis defense procedures

Scheduling the thesis defense

After the submission of the thesis, the student will receive an email message listing the names of the referees who have been appointed as the student's PhD Approval Committee. The student will then promptly contact all members of his/her PhD Approval Committee to schedule a date for the thesis defense (within 6 weeks of receipt of that email). As soon as the date is set, the student must record the date by using a designated online service at the FGS website.

Members of the PhD Approval Committee (PAC)

  • Head of the PhD approval committee (a Faculty member from WIS who did not have any direct association with the student or with their research)
  • The student's supervisor(s)
  • One of the members of the student's PhD advisory committee.
  • A non-WIS Faculty member (from Israel or overseas)

Defending the thesis

The appointed PhD Approval Committee will convene to meet with the student on the set date. The defense must take place at the Weizmann Campus in the presence of all parties concerned. The defense has two parts: A mandatory public seminar followed by a closed meeting with the PhD approval committee – as detailed below.


The seminar

The suggested time-frame below is merely a guideline and the specifics can be modified according to the needs. The student may invite to the seminar family members and friends. Please note that it is the responsibility of the student and his department to help with the organization and logistics aspects of the seminar (i.e. assigning a room, advertising etc.).

  • Introduction by the supervisor (~5 minutes)
  • Seminar given by the student (~45 minutes). We suggest including a 5 to10 minutes “non-expert” introduction
  • Questions & answers (~15 minutes)

The student must notify the secretary of his/her department at least two weeks prior to the date set for the seminar, so it would receive better publicity and be adequately made known in advance to all interested parties at the department (i.e. scientists, postdocs and students).

The exam

Thesis Exam (about 30-50 minutes) will be conducted immediately following the seminar at the presence of the student and members of the PhD approval Committee.

PhD Approval Committee recommendations

Following the exam, members of the PhD Approval Committee may recommend one of the four options listed below:

  • Approve the thesis as is.
  • Approve the thesis after minor corrections are applied. The revised version must be approved by the supervisor.
  • Re-evaluate the thesis after major changes.
  • Reject the thesis

Preparing a revised thesis

  • Should the PhD Approval Committee decide that corrections are necessary before it can approve the thesis, the student will be notified in writing (including comments made by the referees and a list of the required corrections).
  • In case of minor corrections, the student must submit within TWO WEEKS, through the FGS online service: (a) A corrected version of the thesis; and (b) A list of all the corrections made.
  • If major corrections are required then the WIS Institutional Theses Committee will decide on the timetable for submitting a revised thesis.
  • The corrections need to be approved by the supervisor/s and by the WIS Thesis committee. Both of these are mandatory conditions for approval of the PhD degree.

Typical comments made by the referees

The following are typical comments you may expect from your referees:

  • Errors of spelling and style. These are particularly prominent in dissertations that include published material in which a large gap exists between the quality of the English in the articles, and the connecting sections you’ve written. Some of the referees may prepare a list of errors to be corrected, but most of them note the fact, and request that editing and proofreading be carried out.
  • Incomplete chapters or incorrect chapter order.
  • In rare cases, major corrections, including repetition of experiments, may be requested.

Grades and distinctions

PhD Theses at the Weizmann Institute of Science are not assigned grades of any sort. The Scientific Council of the Weizmann Institute of Science does not award degrees with distinctions such as Cum Laude or Magna Cum Laude.

Approval of the degree

Following the approval of the thesis by the WIS Institutional Theses Committee, the FGS will ask the Scientific Council of the Weizmann Institute of Science to approve the degree.

Official certification

Once your degree is approved by the Institute’s Scientific Council, you will receive an official confirmation of Degree Eligibility.

Degree eligibility date

The date of your degree is the date on which the WIS Scientific Council approved the degree. Your physical degree will be awarded at the graduation and awards ceremony that takes place once a year in the spring.

Awarding of the degree

PhD degrees are awarded at the graduation and awards ceremony that takes place once a year in the spring.