Choosing Dissertation Committee Members

Choosing Dissertation Committee Members-15
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.

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The Dissertation Committee provides guidance and oversight of the student’s dissertation research and writing.

Prior to enrolling in dissertation credit, a student must choose a Dissertation Chair.

Therefore, graduate students must carefully and thoughtfully choose which faculty will act as their committee members and chairs.

When deciding whom they would like to act as their committees and chairs, graduate students should consider (a) if faculty have compatible personalities with similar research interests; (b) if faculty are experienced in and enthusiastic about directing, advising, helping, and working with students; and (c) what kind of teaching and research reputations the faculty have.

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.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.COMMITTEE SIZE: Doctoral candidates must have a dissertation committee made up of a Chair and at least two other members (Member #1, Member #2).COMMITTEE CHAIR: Must be a Mason Economics full-time tenure / tenure-track faculty member.Additional committee members may be added by qualified individuals with suitable academic training and research experience, either inside or outside the university.EXCEPTIONS: Any exceptions must have the approval of the Ph D Director and the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.Four committee members must attend general and final exams — so having five on your committee provides flexibility if one member cannot attend.However, having more than four committee members may make it more difficult for them to find time to work together.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.

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