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Committees, Advising and Thesis Plan

Mentoring and Thesis Committees

The mission of the mentoring and thesis committees is to guide and provide advice and perspective for a graduate student as they pass through the program. The committee should meet at least once a semester and at each meeting hear from the student about their progress with classes and research. Members can and should meet with the student individually as needed.  

Each person is assigned a mentoring/thesis committee of dedicated professionals who not only advise about academics and research but who also provide emotional and personal support to help the student overcome any problems which may arise, including those of a personal nature. The Committee is primarily a long-term resource for the student but also serves to help the student maintain the expected timeline for completion of the Ph.D. It should be recognized that the Committee members also benefit from this interactive experience, not only in research but also in learning how to become better advisors, colleagues, and educators. The committee provides an additional layer of advocacy and protection alongside the principal advisor.

Members of the committee should provide advice, feedback,and guidance on any topic relevant to reaching this goal, including the following:

1) developing and adjusting a plan for successful research projects that result in important publications and build up competitive skills/expertise by the time of graduation;

2) developing and maintaining productive and harmonic student-advisor and student-collaborator relations;

3) questions related to ethical aspects of the research and collaborations;

4) any non-work related problems the student seeks the committee's advice on;

5) development of skills, knowledge, and connections that are important for career development. 

Forming Your Committee:

Mentoring committees for first year students should first meet by the end of the first semester. Thesis committee for students that have passed prelim should first meet by the end of the fifth semester. Mentoring and thesis committees consist of no less than four faculty members, including the student's principle research advisor, chosen by the student with close consolation from the student's research advisor, and approved by the department Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). 

The department has established a pool of faculty advisors to serve on mentoring committees for the first and second year students. These members of the faculty will not only have an overall view  of the student's progress through classes and research, independent of funding and timing constraints, but will also be able to generate a birds eye view of the program as a whole.  At least two members of each mentoring committees are drawn from this pool by the student, in close contact with the student's research advisor.  

Committee Meeting Frequency Requirement:

Establishment of the committees and scheduling of committee meetings is the joint responsibility of graduate student and his/her principle advisor. Mentoring and thesis committees should meet at least once per semester, as part of the requirement to complete the student's independent study or thesis research credit hours. The department office will send out reminder regarding committee meetings at the beginning and in the middle of each semester. Department office shall be informed by the student that the committee meeting has taken place. Those who are having difficulties in scheduling committee meetings by the middle of the semester are strongly encouraged to seek help from the DGS and the department office. Students will only be allowed to register for independent study or thesis research credit hours for the subsequent semester when either the committee has met, or permission is granted by the DGS for the postponement of the committee meeting.

Thesis Plan:

By the end of the fifth semester, each student should develop a working outline for their thesis plans.   This document contains succinct descriptions of the thesis projects.  The thesis plan will likely evolve over the course of graduate study and be updated regularly.  Thesis plans should be made available to the thesis mentoring committee before committee meetings, and should be sent to the APC before the annual graduate student review meeting.