2021-2022 Graduate Catalog

Distance Conferencing Guidelines for Oral Comprehensive Exams

The following Distance Conferencing Guidelines refer to Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Examination or Master’s Examination, Doctoral or Master’s Dissertation/Thesis

Facilities and Support Requirements

1. The student, the student’s chair, and the unit’s program director must agree at least one week in advance of the meeting that one or more committee members may attend via video or audio conference, except in cases of a last minute emergency (see above). Unless the student has received written permission from the chair of the examining or final project committee, and the program director, the student must attend the meeting in person and on campus. Documentation that distance conferencing occurred should be included in the Status of Comprehensive Exams form submitted to the Graduate School, including if exceptions were granted.
2. Audio communication must be sufficient for all examination or final project committee members and the student to be able to hear each other throughout the entire meeting.  If possible, technology used for the video/audio conference should be supported by the Information Technology Services office of Ball State. The student should collect phone numbers that can be used to discuss any technical challenges that may emerge prior to or during the meeting. If technical difficulties are not resolved, and a backup plan cannot be established, the meeting must be cancelled or discontinued.
3. Communication must occur at least a week before the meeting between the student and the examining or final project committee chair regarding: (a) the transmission of any materials (e.g., text, slides, articles, etc.) that are referenced during the meeting, and (b) the method of obtaining written documentation from committee members for any required Graduate School or departmental paperwork.
4. If possible, a practice connection should occur before the date of the distance conference meeting to ensure relevant parties can connect via each method. The committee should have a backup plan identified if connectivity cannot be established in a stable fashion for all members in the distance conference.  No prejudice can be held against the student if both primary and back-up conferencing means cannot be established and maintained. If connection issues or digital clarity issues affect the quality of the distance conferencing to the point that the student will be negatively impacted either by their ability to propose/defend (or by frustration with the technology on the part of the committee or student), and a backup plan cannot be established, the meeting must be terminated and rescheduled. 

Proposal and Doctoral or Masters Dissertation or Thesis Defense Meetings

These are Graduate School guidelines; a department or unit may create stricter guidelines as long as they are stated in the department’s or unit’s graduate-student policy statement or handbook. 

Programs should use good judgment in determining whether individual meetings should be conducted by video/audio conference or whether to enforce an on-campus-only policy when appropriate. All policies must be administered equitably.  Exceptions to these guidelines, including requests for last-minute emergency distance conferencing by a committee member or student, must be approved by the program director or their designee, the student, and the chair of the committee and must be documented in a memo to the Graduate School that accompanies the Status of Comprehensive Exams form.