The Graduate Catalog outlines the membership of graduate committees. While membership differs between M.S. and Doctoral students, their charge is the same: To guide a student through a successful graduate program.
In their first semester of study, a student should identify a major processor. For non-Thesis M.S. students, the major professor is usually from an area of interest—one of their breadth courses. For Thesis or Doctoral students, the major professor oversees the student’s research. A major professor must Graduate Faculty within the Department.
The major professor is responsible for releasing a student to enroll in classes after their first semester of enrollment. Students that do not have a major professor by the end of their second term may be put on probation.
A graduate committee for a Master’s student must consist of three members including the major professor; at least one other member must be member of the Department. Over half of members must be Graduate Faculty at the University.
For non-Thesis students, a straightforward committee would be the professor involved in the student’s Breadth requirement of courses. These professors will oversee the students project (if any) and their Comprehensive Exam.
For Research students, membership may include faculty that have subject matter expertise in their chosen research area outside of the Department; this faculty member may be the director of the research (not the Major Professor) if the student’s committee approves.
A graduate committee for a Doctoral student must consist of four members including the major professor; at least one other member must be member of the Department. Over half of members must be Graduate Faculty at the University. The dissertation may be directed by a Non-Graduate Faculty member of the committee if the committee-at-large agrees.
A graduate committee should be formed by the student’s second semester ideally, though membership may change. A committee must be formed before any Directed Individual Study or other forms or requests can be completed. Membership of the committee (including changes) must be communicated to the Graduate Coordinator.