Friday, November 02, 2007

PhD Defense and Party in Finland

I had the pleasure of seeing FMI's Laura Rontu defend her PhD last week, then attend her post-PhD party in the evening. I had not been to one of the parties (called karonkkaani) before, so this was a new experience. As I have reported on previously, the Finns have a different PhD defense system than in the U.S. Elena gave me a couple of links on the examination (defense) and the party.

For the Finns, in the US, most atmospheric science programs I am familiar with have the following structure. The defense is given as a public scientific seminar usually lasting about 45-60 minutes. After the seminar, the public asks questions. Then, the audience is excused and the candidate is left alone with this committee (advisor and 3-5 committee members). They ask further questions of the candidate. After this round of questioning, the candidate is excused from the room and the committee members discuss the performance of the candidate. Except for unusual circumstances, nearly everyone who reaches this stage passes. There may be minor modifications required of the thesis before the committee signs off, but this usually doesn't stop anyone from graduating.


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