Choosing Dissertation Committee Members

Choosing Dissertation Committee Members-82
The dissertation supervisory committee must have at least four members, including the chair and the Graduate School representative (GSR).At least three committee members (including the chair and the GSR) must be UW graduate faculty members with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees; a majority of your committee members must be graduate faculty members, identifiable through the Graduate Faculty Locator.COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Each dissertation committee must have at least two members in addition to the Chair.

The dissertation supervisory committee must have at least four members, including the chair and the Graduate School representative (GSR).At least three committee members (including the chair and the GSR) must be UW graduate faculty members with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees; a majority of your committee members must be graduate faculty members, identifiable through the Graduate Faculty Locator.COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Each dissertation committee must have at least two members in addition to the Chair.

Neither style (hands on or hands off) is inherently good or bad, but both styles have pros and cons.

For example, a hands-on chair may provide a graduate student with lots of direction and guidance but may subsume the student’s original research goals into his or her own research.

On the other hand, a hands-off chair may provide a graduate student with a wealth of knowledge about research and other industry information but may have less time to spend with the graduate student because he or she is too involved in his or her own work.

Before choosing their academic committee members and faculty chairs, graduate students should understand differences in mentorship styles and should identify the mentorship styles of potential committee members and faculty chairs to determine if their mentorship styles will provide them as graduate students with the support that they will need to succeed in graduate school.

Doctoral students in interdisciplinary programs face unique challenges in forming dissertation committees.

Based on our experience as directors of three such programs (Public Health Genetics, Urban Design and Planning, and Astrobiology), we offer the following suggestions.

Graduate students should definitely consider all three of these characteristics for both committee members and faculty chairs, but graduate students should especially consider the first two characteristics in their choices of faculty chairs.

Graduate students work more closely with faculty chairs than they do with academic committee members, so it is important that graduate students can get along with their faculty chairs.

Committee members should include faculty expertise in your dissertation’s core fields.

You might consider having five members, especially if your project involves different disciplines requiring advice and guidance in all areas.

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