Dear Dissertation Diva:
Am I a PhD after I successfully defend my dissertation or after I officially graduate? I might not make the deadline for this semester but want to know if I can use the title even if I don't graduate until a few months after my defense.
Can't Wait 2 Gradu-8
Dear Can't Wait,
My understanding is that one is officially a PhD after the degree is awarded at the graduate school's commencement. (Disclaimer: I suggest you check with your university's dissertation office or graduate school administrative office for the exact policy for your situation.) After you pass the defense, you could write, for example, "PhD expected May, 2008" on your cv in the interm months. You could also add the date of your successful defense to your cv.
You might want to celebrate the successful defense of your dissertation and communicate that you will, very soon, be signing your name "Can't Wait, PhD", by sending out a lovely printed invitation to your PhD commencement.
Congratulations on your upcoming defense and degree!