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The Doctoral Committee

After advancement to candidacy, a student’s academic progress will be monitored by a doctoral committee consisting of four or more active members of Penn State’s Graduate Faculty. Committee members will evaluate the candidate’s comprehensive examinations and supervise and approve the thesis.

One person must be designated as chair (usually the student’s current academic advisor) and is largely responsible for administrative details of the student’s matriculation. Any EDTHP faculty with an appointment from the Graduate Faculty may serve as chair and is usually the thesis advisor. A Professor Emeritus or Emerita may serve on the committee but may not be designated as chair.

The committee must include at least two full-time members from the EDTHP faculty (i.e., not EDTHP-affiliate faculty). At least one member of the committee must represent a field outside the student’s major field of study. This committee member is referred to as the “Outside Field Member.” In cases where the student is also pursuing a dual-title field of study, the dual-title representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member. Additionally, one member of the doctoral committee must be in an administrative unit that is outside the unit in which the dissertation adviser’s primary appointment is held. This committee member is referred to as the “Outside Unit Member.” If the candidate has declared a minor area of study, that field must be represented on the committee.

Once designated, the committee must be officially appointed by the dean of The Graduate School. The EDTHP staff assistant will provide the Doctoral Committee Appointment Signature Form to the student; it is the student’s responsibility to obtain each committee member’s signature on the form to indicate his or her willingness to serve on the student’s committee. After completing the form, the student should return it to the EDTHP staff assistant to be processed.

Special Member

A person who is not affiliated with Penn State but who has a particular expertise in the candidate’s research area may be added as a fifth, “special” member of the doctoral committee. A special member is expected to participate fully on the doctoral committee, including attending all committee functions. In order to add the special member, the committee chair must submit a written request, including justification for the addition of the special member, to the dean of The Graduate School. The request must be accompanied by the appointee’s résumé or vita, which the student must obtain from the prospective special member.

Committee Changes

Any changes to the committee after it is officially appointed must be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services on a new Doctoral Committee Appointment Signature Form. It is the student’s responsibility to inform committee members and the EDTHP staff assistant of changes in committee membership and to obtain the new members’ signatures on the new form.

Research Protections

To ensure compliance with applicable federal and state laws, certain University activities require review and approval by appointed institutional review committees. Projects involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, and/or biohazards must obtain review and approval through the Office for Research Protections (ORP) before the project is initiated. This approval is mandatory; failure to comply with this policy may result in retraction of the graduate degree.