The Graduate College Thesis Office receives and processes preliminary and final exam forms (PER/FER), as well as thesis and dissertation approval forms (TDA). These forms are submitted by graduate contacts in each department through Secure Form Drop-Off. This page discusses what information is needed to accept PER, FER, and TDA forms. We also give advice on troubleshooting issues that may arise with collecting signatures on these forms.
Information Required for Submission
The Proper Form
All Final Exams and Preliminary Exams must be requested through the committee request system.
Once the exam has been scheduled, the Graduate College generates and emails the forms for each student to the graduate contact who made the committee request.
The Dissertation Approval form is provided along with the Final Exam Results form.
The Master's Thesis form can be downloaded from this webpage.
These forms must be included when submitting exam or approval results through Secure Form Drop Off.
If the form cannot be found, please let us know and we can provide you with another one.
Correct Student Information
The correct student information should already be populated on the forms we generate and send to you.
Please make sure to submit the correct form for the right student.
Be sure to check carefully if there are two students in the department with the same name.
Results of the Exam
Detailed results of the exam must be included with the submission.
For the PER:
For the FER:
- Pass no revisions
- Pass with revisions
The date of the exam must be included in the submission.
Please add the 599 semester terms when applicable.
Signatures from the Committee
Each committee member must indicate their approval or disapproval of the results of the exam, or dissertation/thesis.
This can be done by using an approved digital signature, or an email confirmation (details below).
Signature from Department Head
The Department Head's signature must be included on the form and be an approved signature format.
Examples of Completed Forms
Digital signatures can be used in place of physical signatures, but must follow an approved format. The objective here is to make it clear that approval or disapproval is coming directly from each committee member. If a digital signature could be replicated by anybody, then we cannot approve it.
Adobe Verified Signature
If a faculty member signs the document by typing their name, there must be additional information provided through Adobe that proves the faculty member typed it themselves.
Verification marks can be added to the faculty member’s signature by using the Certificate tool in Adobe Acrobat. The verification mark confirms it is a certificate-based signature.
The Adobe Sign feature is another method of verifying typed signatures. Adobe Sign generates an Audit Report that should be attached to the form upon submission.
Examples of Approved Typed and Verified Signatures
Scanned Image of Signature
A faculty member can upload a scanned image of their written signature to their computer. This image can be added to the document in Adobe in various ways including: with the Sign tool, with the Certificate Tool, uploaded as a custom Stamp, or by using Add Image while using the Edit PDF tool.
An image of the faculty member's authentic signature does not require a verification mark.
An email from a committee member, or one with them CC’d, explaining the results of the exam can replace signatures on the form. A full explanation of this process is detailed in the next section.
Understanding that technical difficulties can arise when working from home, the Graduate College is permitting email confirmations to replace information not included on the forms. These emails would need to be attached to the form when submitting.
Results of the Exam
If not added to the form, the results of the exam can be clarified by an email from the committee chair.
Pass results for Final Exams must specify with revision or with no revisions.
The date of the exam can be included in an email from the committee chair, if it is not on the form.
An email confirming that a committee member is aware of the results being reported, can be used in place of signatures.
An email from the committee chair with the committee members CC’d, also works as a replacement for their signatures.
- The committee chair can create an email after each exam/defense including all the details above. This email would be sent to the Graduate Contact with all the other committee members CC’d. This email would then be attached to the form when submitting to replace details not on the document.
Below is a list of common issues that lead to rejected submissions and some of their solutions. Faculty and staff members are always welcome to reach out to us directly for further clarification on the reason for a rejection. If there are technical difficulties with emplementing solutions, please reach out to your departmental IT staff.
signature is typed using a cursive font
Some fonts in Adobe make typed signatures appear to be handwritten by a faculty member. These fonts are easily spotted once you become familiar with their style.
Regardless of the font used, typed signature are still required to be Adobe verified in order to validated.
Here are some examples of typed signatures that we cannot approve without verification
Submission Format is Invalid
Please do not submit PDF Portfolios as they are not viewable in our database.
Portfolios are most often created when using the “Convert to PDF” function on an email in Outlook.
This is due to a setting that automatically creates the PDF in a Portfolio format, which you can change in the “Change Conversion Settings” in Outlook.
Solution A of this guide may be able to assist you.
Working with Adobe
Adobe Acrobat can unfortunately be difficult at times.
If you have issues, we recommend using their support website and typing the issue into their search bar, as there might be an easy solution.
- Their website can be accessed here: https://helpx.adobe.com/support/acrobat.html
Printing and Scanning the Document Multiple Times
If one of the forms is printed and rescanned multiple times, it degrades the clarity of the signatures and information on the page. When the information isn't legible, we can't accept it.
When obtaining physical signatures, we ask that graduate contacts collect all signatures on the page prior to scanning the document.