Committee Selection and Responsibilities

Committee Selection and Approval

Early in your academic career, you should seek advice from your department chair, graduate program director, or advisor on the departmental procedure for setting up a thesis/dissertation committee. Steps in the formation of the committee include:

  • Determining the content area of the proposed project.
  • Meeting with the advisor, department chairperson, or program director to discuss the feasibility of the project.
  • Selecting a committee composed of graduate faculty, which is then approved by the department chairperson and by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

You must file the Committee Membership Form with the Graduate School before registering for dissertation or thesis credit. The prospectus or a summary of the approved topic must accompany the Committee Membership Form.

Committee Membership

The Chair must be a full member of the graduate faculty and also a member of the department housing the program (exceptions: Appalachian Studies chairs must be affiliated with the Center for Appalachian Studies; I-O Psychology chairs can be from either Psychology or Management; Educational Leadership chairs may be from any department housed in the Reich College of Education). The Committee must be composed of at least three members, including the Committee Chair. All members must hold current graduate faculty status.

If the research topic is interdisciplinary, the Committee Chair may direct the student to another department for assistance in developing the topic and may suggest that a graduate faculty member from that department serve on the Committee.

At most one committee member may be from another department or from a University other than Appalachian. A faculty member from another institution may be appointed to the committee, provided (1) the institution is regionally accredited, and (2) the faculty member has the equivalent of a Graduate Faculty appointment at that individual's institution.

Duties of Committee Members

The Committee Chair is the student's primary mentor, and:

  • directs the student's research project and submits a grade of SP (successful progress) or UP (unsuccessful progress) at the end of each term of enrollment in thesis credit;
  • ensures that the student has complied with all regulations covering the use of human or animal subjects in the research project;
  • assists the student by redirecting, limiting, or expanding portions of the research when an adjustment is deemed appropriate;
  • assists the student in identifying research funding sources and writes letters of support when the student applies for funding;
  • informs the student of all deadlines and milestones in the process, and makes sure that the student understands all University policies related to the completion of a dissertation or thesis;
  • convenes regularly scheduled committee meetings so that committee members stay informed of the student's progress;
  • reads and evaluates the writing quality of drafts, intervening as early as possible with students in need of additional assistance;
  • obtains agreement from the committee that the final draft is ready for a defense;
  • schedules the defense and announces the defense to the academic and graduate deans, the home department, and any other faculty deemed relevant;
  • chairs the defense;
  • makes sure that the student incorporates all revisions, corrections, and suggestions resulting from the defense;
  • certifies that the final copy submitted to the Graduate School is well-written, formatted correctly according to the guidelines of the disciplinary style used as well as the guidelines in this Handbook, and free of factual errors.

Committee Members:

  • provide ideas, suggesting additional or new avenues of research;
  • bring to the student's attention all relevant announcements regarding funding, deadlines, conference opportunities;
  • attend all scheduled committee meetings to keep abreast of the student's progress and the suggestions made by other committee members;
  • read and comment on preliminary drafts of the manuscript, providing constructive suggestions;
  • read and evaluate the final draft of the manuscript;
  • participate in the defense;
  • assist the committee chair in ensuring that the manuscript that is submitted to the Graduate School is well-written, correctly formatted, and free of factual errors.