Committees (Doctoral/Master’s)

Committees advise and evaluate satisfactory progress, administer preliminary and final oral examinations, evaluate a thesis or dissertation, and/or sign a degree warrant. A student’s program arranges a committee with appropriate expertise to afford the breadth and depth needed in degree examinations. The responsibilities of individual committee members are determined by the program. The executive committee (or its equivalent) of a program/department is responsible for approving the composition of all graduate committees. The final warrant request which includes committee membership must be submitted to the Graduate School at least three weeks before the examination date. Students should consult their advisor and their program’s student handbook for the specific function of degree committees in their program.

Use this online tool to help you determine whether the proposed committee would meet the following criteria.

THE GRADUATE SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS FOR GRADUATE COMMITTEES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

For doctoral committees/final oral examination committees:

1. The chair or one of the co-chairs of the committee must be graduate faculty1 from the student’s program.4,5
2. The committee must have at least four members. The committee must have members from at least two University of Wisconsin—Madison graduate programs.3,5
3. Three of the committee members must be UW–Madison graduate faculty or former UW–Madison graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement.
4. At least three committee members must be designated as readers.6
5. The fourth member and any additional members may be from any of the following categories, as approved by the program executive committee (or its equivalent): graduate faculty, faculty from a department without a graduate program1, academic staff2 (including emeritus faculty), visiting faculty, faculty from other institutions, scientists, research associates, and other individuals deemed qualified by the executive committee (or its equivalent).
6. All committee members have voting rights. To receive a doctoral degree, students cannot receive more than one dissenting vote from their committee on the final degree warrant.

For MFA final committees:

1. The chair or one of the co-chairs of the committee must be graduate faculty1 from the student’s program.4,5
2. The committee must have at least four members.
3. Three of the committee members must be UW–Madison graduate faculty or former UW–Madison graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement.
4. The fourth member and any additional members may be from any of the following categories, as approved by the program executive committee (or its equivalent): graduate faculty, faculty from a department without a graduate program1, academic staff2 (including emeritus faculty), visiting faculty, faculty from other institutions, scientists, research associates, and other individuals deemed qualified by the executive committee (or its equivalent).
5. All committee members have voting rights. To receive a MFA degree, students cannot receive more than one dissenting vote from their committee on the final degree warrant.

For master’s thesis committees:

1. The chair or one of the co-chairs of the committee must be graduate faculty1 from the student’s program.3,5
2. The committee must have at least three members.
3. Two of the committee members must be UW–Madison graduate faculty or former UW–Madison graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement.
4. The third member and any additional members may be from any of the following categories, as approved by the program executive committee (or its equivalent): graduate faculty, faculty from a department without a graduate program1, academic staff2 (including emeritus faculty), visiting faculty, faculty from other institutions, scientists, research associates, and other individuals deemed qualified by the executive committee (or its equivalent).
5. All committee members have voting rights. To receive a master’s degree, students cannot receive more than one dissenting vote from their committee on the final degree warrant.

For master’s non-thesis committees:

1. The committees must have at least one graduate faculty1 from the student’s program.3,5
2. To receive a master’s degree, students cannot receive more than one dissenting vote from their committee on the final degree warrant.

Footnotes:
1 Graduate Faculty: The UW–Madison Faculty Policies and Procedures 3.05 contains the policies and exceptions regarding the graduate faculty status.
2 Academic Staff: The UW–Madison Faculty Policies and Procedures 3.05H contains the policy related to academic staff serving on the committees.
3 Program: Programs are officially approved courses of study and research leading to a master’s or doctoral degree. They may be administered from within a disciplinary department or across departments by an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary cluster of faculty. Some programs have official areas of concentration within them (called named options or subplans) at the master’s and/or doctoral levels. Both programs and named options appear on the student’s transcript. Some programs have unofficial tracks, specializations, or concentrations, but these are not listed on the transcript. Contact the program’s graduate coordinator for more information.
4 The advisor does not have to be chair of the committee, although it is often the case. Moreover, the co-advisors/co-chairs will be designated in the dissertation document.
5 Note that affiliate appointments may be used to satisfy this requirement.
6 Readers: Committee members who commit themselves to closely reading and reviewing the entire dissertation. The rationale for specifically designating non-reader status is to facilitate faculty participation in dissertations without automatically expecting the level of commitment associated with deeply engaging a PhD thesis. Given faculty workloads, designating a non-reader in some cases may permit faculty participation where engagement would otherwise be impossible. As long as the Graduate School minimum of at least three committee members that are readers is upheld, programs will remain in compliance with Graduate School policy. Programs may choose to have stricter requirements.

See Advisor