On My Dissertation Committee

Responsibilities of the Chair

The Chair will be selected on the basis of content expertise. This should include topic interest or subject matter expertise, experience in  dissertation direction, or methodology expertise. The Chair is responsible for guiding the candidate to produce doctoral level, original scholarship in the proposed topic area. The Chair must be a member of the LEAD faculty and hold Full graduate faculty status. 

The Chair’s responsibilities include:

  • Being familiar with current dissertation policies and procedures in the LEAD program

  • Advising the candidate from the Prospectus stage through the final defense of the Dissertation

  • Guiding the candidate in the selection of Dissertation committee members

  • Guiding the candidate to set a realistic timeline for completion of the Dissertation

  • Responsibly assigning the candidate a grade of SP (successful progress) or NP (no progress) each semester

  • Guiding the candidate toward achieving a high level of technical and ethical quality in the Dissertation research

  • Assisting the candidate in developing a quality Prospectus and in navigating the Prospectus approval process

  • Providing guidance on the research proposal structure, formatting, content and setting clear expectations for timely completion of the Proposal

  • Guiding the candidate in the selection of methods/procedures for data collection and analysis*

  • Assisting the candidate in the Dissertation Proposal defense process

  • Assisting the candidate in navigating the IRB approval process

  • Assisting the candidate in data collection and analysis*

  • Preparing the candidate for the defense process

* If a separate Methodologist is assigned, the Chair may serve in a support role.

In special circumstances, with program approval, a Co-Chair arrangement may be appropriate for a particular subject matter. In the case of a Co-Chair arrangement, one of the two Co-Chairs must be a member of the LEAD faculty and hold Full graduate faculty status.

Responsibilities of the Committee Members    

All members of the candidate’s committee share responsibility in ensuring that the candidate produces high-quality scholarship. Committee members are responsible for reading manuscripts within the agreed-upon minimum 14 day time frame (per committee member), suggesting substantive editorial changes, and providing rationale for their support and critiques. Committee members who perceive major flaws that are likely to result in a candidate’s unsuccessful defense should discuss these concerns with the candidate and Chair immediately.

Committee member’s responsibilities include:

  • In cooperation with the Chair, advising the candidate from the Prospectus stage through the final defense of the Dissertation

  • Provide subject matter expertise as requested by Chair or candidate

  • Reading drafts and providing meaningful feedback at each defense stage of the dissertation process

  • Guiding the candidate in the selection of methods/procedures for data collection and analysis**

  • Assisting the candidate in data collection and analysis**

  • Corresponding with the Chair and candidate as needed for clarification/resolution of methodological issues during the Dissertation process**

** Methodologist only (if the Chair is not performing both roles). A Methodologist should be selected who has particular expertise in the type of study the candidate is pursuing (quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods).   

Responsibilities of the Dissertation Candidate

The candidate is expected to engage in active preparation of the Dissertation process from the onset of the doctoral program. Candidates are  responsible for choosing a topic, submitting proofread drafts of materials to the Chair, preparing adequately for meetings, thoroughly reviewing all Dissertation policies and procedures, and communicating on a regular basis with the Chair via email, phone, or other communication modality. The candidate is expected to maintain a respectful and professional attitude at all times. 

Candidates are expected to maintain contact with the Chair and Methodologist throughout the Dissertation process to ensure that the research and writing adhere to the agreed-upon plan. As the project is the candidate’s responsibility, s/he must frequently keep the Chair informed of  progress. The candidate should contact the Chair in the event of any significant changes in his/her personal or professional life which may interfere with program completion. In addition, candidates are expected to maintain regular contact with the Program Office via email (utclead@utc.edu).   

Communicating with the Committee

The Chair will determine when a document is ready for electronic review by the committee and will initiate communication amongst committee members. The candidate should avoid consulting the full committee for feedback without prior approval of the Chair. A minimum of four meetings with the committee is required: Prospectus defense, Proposal defense, Pre-defense of the final manuscript, and the final Dissertation defense. The Chair will notify the Program Office via email (utclead@utc.edu) of the date/time/location of all committee defense meetings. Committee participation from a distance may be facilitated through video conference, phone conference, or other electronic media as approved.    

Presenting Drafts to Committee Members

It is common practice to share Dissertation drafts with committee members via email. The  document should be saved in Microsoft Word format and clearly labeled with the researcher’s name and stage in the process (example: Jane Smith Prospectus Chapter 2). The document should include consecutively numbered pages and should adhere to program formatting and style guidelines. All drafts of defense documents should be shared with the entire committee at least 14 days prior to any defense date(s).

Invitation letter asking a professor to serve on the thesis committee

Hi everyone,

I need to write a formal letter to ask for a professor, whom I do not know very well, to serve on my dissertation committee.

May you help me check if the following letter is sufficiently humble, polite, but straight to the point?

The sentence that I am not sure if it is grammatically correct and reads well: "I am writing to humbly request your service and expertise to serve as an ``External Expert’’ on my graduate committee."

I would very much appreciate your inputs.


Dear Professor _____________,

My name is NgLausanne. I am a newbie at the englishforum.ch

At the recommendation of my advisors, Professor AdrianLondon and Professor Niamhie [kidding, I am picking some forum veterans], I am writing to humbly request your service and expertise to serve as an ``External Expert’’ on my graduate committee.

My advisors and I believe that your knowledge and insights would be very valuable and would greatly enrich my work.

My private defense is scheduled around early December 2013 and will take place at EnglishForum.

My thesis is entitled “Essays in Whatever” and is comprised of three papers:

• Crap 1;
• Crap 2;
• Crap 3.

I attach below a copy of each paper and my resume for your reference.

I am grateful for your time and consideration and I very much hope that you will be able to accept my request.



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