Although the name is confusing, the form to use for all committee appointments is
the one the Graduate School calls the “Thesis/Dissertation Faculty Committee” form,
available at http://www.memphis.edu/gradschool/pdfs/committee_form.pdf (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.
Advisory Committee: The Graduate Coordinator advises all students admitted into the history graduate
program when they first enroll. During the first semester, or at latest the second
semester, you must choose an Advisory Committee composed of a major professor with
Full Graduate Faculty status representing the proposed major field and at least two
other Graduate Faculty members. representing the proposed minor fields. If at all
possible the committee should have as a fourth member a second professor representing
the major field. You and your major professor should arrange for the committee to
meet shortly after it is formed to assist you in finalizing your fields of study,
determining the choice of courses, evaluating the suitability of credits proposed
for transfer from other institutions (usually from previous M.A. work) and judging
the applicability of earlier coursework to the Ph.D. fields of study. The committee
must issue all its decisions in writing, giving copies to you and the Graduate Coordinator.
Use the Ph.D. Planning Form for this purpose, which you can get at http://www.memphis.edu/history/docs/phdplan.doc (MS Word). You should get this form as soon as possible and start keeping track of
your progress and plans right away. It is especially important that your committee
fill in the box on the second page of the planning form labeled “Please write all
Advising Committee recommendations and requirements in this space.” It should itemize
all that you must do to advance to the comprehensive exams. The Advisory Committee
will continue to advise you about academic matters until you form the Comprehensives
Examination Committee, which will normally happen shortly after the Advisory Committee
has itemized what you have to do to reach the exam stage.
Comprehensive Examination Committee: This committee succeeds and usually has the same membership as the Advisory Committee.
You will consult and work closely with its individual members about what you need
to do to prepare for the comprehensive examination. You should think of all you do
in the program in terms of this exam, and begin intensive direct preparation for it
as soon as possible (see above, under Comprehensive Examination for detailed information). The Comprehensive Examination Committee has four faculty members: the major professor
and another member from the dissertation field and one representative from each of
the two minor fields. In the case of a special field that spans two or more traditional
fields, or for other reasons approved by the committee, it is possible to have more
than one professor representing that field on the committee, but the length of the
exam that you write for that field does not change. You should provide each field
representative with a list of all courses, readings, and papers in the field and thereafter
consult with the representative concerning any additional readings, etc., that you
need to do to prepare for the exam. You should do this no later than the beginning
of the semester in which you sign up for the required Reading for and Writing Comprehensives
course in the field, and usually at least one semester before completing the comprehensive
examinations. Please note that the Ph.D. comps are over each field, and questions
are not necessarily limited to material you have covered in coursework. You may not
use any notes or other external materials in the oral parts of the exam. Although
field representatives should be willing to discuss your readings and preparation,
it is your responsibility to survey the field comprehensively. Any member of this
committee who is not University of Memphis faculty must apply for graduate faculty
status. See below under Dissertation Committee for directions.
Dissertation Committee: Your major professor chairs the Dissertation Committee and assists you in the choice
of other committee members. There must be at least four members of a Dissertation
Committee and the membership may be different from that of the Comprehensive Examination
Committee. All Dissertation Committee members must be Graduate Faculty, and the major
professor/chair and at least two other members must hold Full Graduate Faculty status.
Generally the committee consists of faculty members whose expertise is related to
the subject matter of the dissertation, although it sometimes helps to include at
least one person from outside the area. It is also often beneficial to have a member
from outside the department, or even outside the university. Any member from outside
the university must apply for Adjunct Graduate Faculty status, but this is a simple
matter of filling out a short form (to show that the person has a Ph.D. and a record
of accomplishment in the field) and attaching a Curriculum vitae. The form for this at http://www.memphis.edu/gradschool/graduate_faculty/gradfac.php, and if the Graduate Coordinator judges such members to meet the additional qualifications
for Full Graduate Faculty, they may be counted toward the number of three members
with Full Graduate Faculty status required. In addition, it is now possible for a
University of Memphis faculty member to share the direction of a dissertation with
someone outside the university, who serves as a “Adjunct Research Co-Mentor.”
You should form the Dissertation Committee immediately after you pass the comprehensive
examination. Its first duty will be to help you refine or choose your dissertation
topic, then to help you plan and write your dissertation prospectus. When you present
this in a public forum within a semester of passing the exam, it may suggest revisions,
and then will formally approve it Afterwards, it continues to advise you on the writing
of the dissertation, and, eventually, conducts the dissertation defense. Normally,
all members of the committee are available to help you throughout the dissertation
process, especially to give advice and read and critique chapters as they are written.
In all cases, you must provide all committee members with a draft of the dissertation
far enough in advance of the defense to enable them to make recommendations for further
research or substantial revisions.
You should still direct technical questions about department and university requirements
and policies and requests for registration clearance to the Graduate Coordinator.
Do not ask anyone else to clear you; only the Graduate Coordinator can do this.
University of Memphis faculty in a post-retirement program retain their graduate faculty
status and can continue to serve as committee chair. After full retirement they must
apply for adjunct graduate faculty status, and so cannot chair, except as an Adjunct
Research Co-Mentor, but it is possible to apply for an exception when graduation is
near or under special circumstances.