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Guide for Graduate Students

Graduate Committees

Graduate Studies Committee
Master’s program committees
Doctoral program committees

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M. A. Program Committees

The form to use for all committee appointments is the one the Graduate School calls the “Thesis/Dissertation Faculty Committee” form, available at (pdf). Every time you change your committee, you must fill this out, get all committee signatures, and submit it to the office and Graduate Coordinator. The office will pass it on to the Graduate School when this is necessary.

The Graduate Coordinator advises all master’s students when they first enroll and continues to advise all students on matters of department and university policy and requirements, such as course requirements, acceptance of transfer credit, preparing the application for admission to master’s candidacy, and selecting the members of the Comprehensive Examination Committee.

All M.A. students must form a Comprehensive Examination Committee by the beginning of their last semester, and those who decide to write a thesis must form a Thesis Committee. Usually, but not necessarily, these committees are the same. Although you don’t need to form the committees until late in the program, you must choose a thesis advisor, who will chair the Thesis Committee, much earlier, usually at least a year before graduation. The thesis advisor will work with you closely on your thesis and help you choose your Comprehensive Examination Committee. For all M.A. students, this committee consists of at least three faculty members, whose chair must hold at least Associate Graduate Faculty status. For those who write a thesis, the thesis director serves as committee chair.

The Comprehensive Examination Committee administers the oral comprehensive examination and, for thesis students, the Thesis Committee reads the thesis and conducts the thesis defense, usually in conjunction with the comprehensive examination. When you ask professors to serve on the Comprehensive Examination Committee, you should provide each of them with a complete list of all the books you have read in the program, as well as the titles of all major papers you have written, all organized by course. At that time you should also discuss with each of them the nature of the exam. Unlike the Ph.D. Comprehensives, it is not an exam over fields, but only over the courses you have taken. During the exam you are not allowed to use any notes or other materials.

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