The Dissertation Committee

Choosing the Dissertation Committee

A dissertation committee consists of a student’s primary advisor and 4 other faculty members. At least one of the faculty members must be from a GSBSE partner institution that is different from the primary advisor’s institution. The choice of a dissertation committee is critical, because the committee members will be the student’s direct advisors and evaluators throughout the program. Once the committee is established and a student’s dissertation project has been proposed, a committee meeting should take place.

The goals of this committee meeting include

  1.  identifying remaining course requirements
  2.  approving the dissertation proposal, and
  3.  establishing a time-frame and topic for the candidacy examinations.

In preparation for this meeting, the student should prepare and distribute the Proposed Plan of Study (pdf), which includes graduate course work taken or anticipated, grades earned, and a description of the proposed dissertation topic. All committee members will sign off on the Proposed Plan of Study, if it is deemed acceptable. The Plan of Study must be submitted to the GSBSE office for approval by the Director, and subsequent filing with the Graduate School.  Once a committee is established, any proposed changes in the research direction or plan of study must be discussed by the student at a convened committee meeting. The committee will then collectively grant approval of the new plan of study. The revised Plan of Study must be submitted to the GSBSE office for approval by the Director, and subsequent filing with the Graduate School.  The committee will meet at least once a year (with an extra meeting for the comprehensive examination), or more frequently, as determined by mutual agreement of the student and his/her committee. After each committee meeting the advisor will be asked to submit an evaluation/update of the student’s progress. This progress report should be shared with the student, and if needed, corrective action should be taken.

Committee Meetings

The purpose of the dissertation committee is to advise the student throughout the course of their research work, and to evaluate the student’s progress and strategy. It is, therefore, important for the student to have regular committee meetings that will serve the purpose of reporting progress to each member of the committee. A committee must meet at least twice every year, but may meet more frequently at the discretion of the committee members. It is the student’s responsibility to prepare for the meeting by giving each committee member written materials at least one week before the meeting, and preparing a progress report that will be presented orally at the beginning of the meeting. The student should assemble an agenda for the meeting that includes the progress report, goals for the following year, and specific details and data pertaining to his/her work. The student should also plan to follow up on the meeting in a timely manner by providing additional materials, updating timelines, goals, etc., as requested by the committee.

The student’s mentor will be responsible for reporting the progress of the student through a Dissertation Committee Summary (pdf) form after each committee meeting. The form is available here link. The Committee Summary should be signed by every member of the committee (an email confirmation to the GSBSE office will suffice) and the evaluation should be shared with the GSBSE student. At that time, concerns or problems should be discussed with the student and a plan to address these problems or concerns should be stated in the form.