Committee Selection

Thesis presentation to faculty and students

Advisory Committee

All graduate students completing a dissertation, thesis, report, or practicum for their degree are required to have an advisory committee that meets the requirements of the Graduate School.  The advisory committee should be appointed early in the student’s residence and no later than the end of the student’s fourth academic-year semester.  

Role of the Advisory Committee

The purpose of the advisory committee is to provide the student:

  • multiple independent viewpoints to guide the research,
  • advice and mentoring as the student progresses towards timely completion of the degree, and
  • assessment of their work.  

Master’s Advisory Committee Requirements

A master’s advisory committee consists of at least three members (including the advisor or co-advisors). Each member must have full or associate Graduate Faculty Status. An external faculty member is not required. 

PhD Advisory Committee Requirements

A PhD advisory committee consists of at least four members (including the advisor or co-advisors) and includes at least one external member. Each member must have full or associate Graduate Faculty Status. 

A committee member is classified as external if one of the following is true:

  • They do not have an academic appointment in the student’s home department or college,
  • Their academic appointment is less than 50% in the student's home department or college, or
  • They are affiliated faculty in the student's home department or college, or
  • They are adjunct faculty.

An advisor or co-advisor can be from outside the student’s home department or college, but cannot serve as the sole external member of the committee.

Role of the external committee member

The external member of a PhD graduate student's committee fulfills the following roles:

  • provides consideration of a student's research from a perspective that might not be available if all committee members were drawn solely from the student's home department;  
  • promotes cross-disciplinary scholarly collaboration;  
  • serves as a liaison to the Graduate School and ensures that Graduate School policies and procedures are followed; 
  • ensures that the level of research is appropriate to the student’s degree objective.   

If committee members have a close, personal relationship, none of the faculty may be the sole external member of the advisory committee.

Appointing and changing committee members

The members of the advisory committee are recommended to the dean of the Graduate School by the graduate program using the Advisor and Committee Recommendation form.

If a committee member change is necessary, students should consult with their graduate program handbook or graduate program director to determine the procedure to follow. Once a new committee has been selected, students must submit a revised Advisor and Committee Recommendation form to the Graduate School.

Committee members without full Graduate Faculty Status must submit the appointment to Graduate Faculty Status form for each advisee.

Ensuring Independence of Opinions in Evaluation of Graduate Students

The University is committed to protecting the educational interests of students and maintaining an open and transparent environment in the evaluation of students. Faculty in close personal relationships should not be members of the same graduate student’s committee. If there are compelling reasons such that two (or more) faculty in a close personal relationship are recommended as members of a student’s committee, the relationship must be disclosed during committee formation (or when advisors are named if the co-advisors are the faculty in the relationship), a rationale for including these faculty on the committee must be included, and a management plan must be developed for the committee.

Related policies

Ensuring Independence of Opinions in Evaluation of Graduate Students - Graduate School Policy

Graduate Faculty Status - Senate Policy 711.1

External Membership on Graduate Committees - Senate Proposal 40-19

Master of Science Examination Committee Members - Senate Policy 405.1