The Dissertation Supervisory Committee will be struck in late August at the end of the candidate’s second year, when the doctoral research project has received a grade. It consists of the chair, that is, the student’s supervisor, and two to three supporting committee members who are chosen by the chair in consultation with the student.
Normally, the two or three supporting committee members are made up of English faculty; however, a third supporting member may be a professor outside the department or even outside the university. But at least two of the members of the committee, not including the supervisor, must be from the department. The supporting committee members will have research areas of significant relevance to the student’s dissertation project. Committee members may read and comment on the dissertation in progress, and provide other supervisory support; the extent of each committee member’s involvement with the dissertation is entirely up to the committee, varying according to student needs, faculty availability, and research expertise. Each member of the committee must approve the dissertation before it is submitted for defense. The chair and committee members may have been the primary examiners of the student’s Doctoral Research Project (Year 2), but will invariably be the primary examiners of the Dissertation Proposal (Year 3) and board members on the Dissertation Defense (Year 4)—along with additional examiners as outlined under “The Oral Examination.”
In August of Year Two, the Graduate Supervisor will ask the student’s supervisor for names of the two other positions on the Dissertation Supervisory Committee, which should be in place before the student submits the dissertation proposal. The Graduate Supervisor will seek faculty members to fill the positions and suggest substitutes where individuals have declined service. Membership on the Dissertation Supervisory Committee may be subject to change during the course of the dissertation. In all cases, the Graduate Committee needs to approve the membership of the Dissertation Supervisory Committee.