I'm in the very last stage of my PhD journey. I'm aiming to submit the thesis next month (June 2024). However, I'm feeling quite nervous and having lots of self-doubts.

So basically, I sent my first supervisor a full draft last year, but it took her 4 months to read and comment on it. She got back to me with her comments and a list of points I needed to address in March. She said the empirical chapters were very interesting and I should focus on connecting the empirics back to the theory. However that draft wasn't yet ready for submission.

I've been working on revising the dissertation since March, and have addressed all of the points she raised. Today my supervisor suggested that I contact other PhD committee members, however she told me to submit it whenever I feel ready, rather than saying if she thinks it's ready.

I'm both excited but also quite nervous now. I still have 1 more month to continue working on it, but I don't know if the revised dissertation is good enough or whether "it's ready"...

I really appreciate your advice on this. For those who have had the same experience, when do you know your dissertation was ready?...

Does this sound like I'll pass...? I just want to finish it, and don't really care about grade tbh...

Thank you

  • 6
    How could we possibly know that? You have much more information about your advisor, your field, your committee, your country, your department, your ... than we. Commented May 10 at 10:01
  • I agree with Maarten, this is very much dependent on the local culture. You should talk to your advisor about your concerns. In my field and local culture, the thesis is almost never accepted as-is and is sent back for revision, but also it's extremely rare to fail, for students that fail there is almost certainly a severe conflict with their advisor about the content of the thesis and overall body of work toward the PhD. I have no idea if this applies to you though because I'm not local enough for you!
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 10 at 11:48
  • 2
    "when do you know your dissertation was ready" - for most of us it's when your supervisor says it's ready. That your supervisor doesn't want to give an explicit green light feels like a failing on their side. A charitable reading could be that your previous draft was so close to ready that they are sure your next version will be fine, but it still seems a little sloppy not to even want to look at the final version prior to submission.
    – xLeitix
    Commented May 10 at 12:04
  • Thanks a lot for these comments. Also thanks for the "charitable reading" xLeitix. Actually my supervisor said in March that she expected me to submit in June or July and wanted me to graduate this year. She's not gonna read the revised draft again before that (same as my 2nd supervisor). Both of them said I have interesting empirical findings and just needed to try to connect it back to the main theory. I just re-read the thesis and think it's not too bad, but of course not outstanding... Can a submitted thesis get returned for revision...?
    – Henry
    Commented May 10 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


This question will, almost certainly, get closed. But I thought I would throw this in before that happens, in case it helps you.

  1. We can't possibly know if you are ready or how likely it is that you will pass.
  2. Deciding when you are "ready to submit" is a skill that academics need. If you go into academia (as a lot of people with PhDs do) you will be expected to submit articles. You have to know when to submit.
  3. Nervousness is normal, but if it is so extreme that it is debilitating you, you should seek help. In the USA, anyway, most (all???) schools have some sort of help for students.
  4. While dissertations can be rejected, this is pretty rare. You may well get a final request to revise. Your mentor ought not let you submit something that is clearly not ready, and universities have no interest in rejecting dissertations. First, most committees aren't nasty. Second, it looks bad for the department and then the school.

Good luck!

  • 1
    And a dissertation rejection is squarely on the advisor, not the student.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 10 at 15:53
  • 1
    Thanks a lot! So my read on this is that if my supervisor is proactively suggesting that I contact defense committee members, it seems like she thinks it can pass...
    – Henry
    Commented May 10 at 16:54
  • I think so. There are no guarantees, but, if your committee is made up of reasonable people, it should.
    – Peter Flom
    Commented May 10 at 17:14

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