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Supervisory Committees

A critical aspect of timely completion of your graduate degree is selecting a Supervisory Committee Chair and forming a committee as soon as possible.  The supervisory committee is responsible for approving the student's academic program, preparing and judging the qualifying examinations subject to departmental policy, approving the thesis or dissertation subject, reading and approving the thesis or dissertation, and administering and judging the final oral examination (thesis or dissertation defense).  The Chair of the supervisory committee directs the student's research and writing of the thesis or dissertation.

The final oral examination may be chaired by any member of the supervisory committee consistent with departmental policy.  If a graduate student's preliminary work is deemed deficient, the supervisory committee may require supplementary undergraduate courses for which no graduate credit is granted.  Decisions concerning program requirements, examinations, and the thesis or dissertation are made by majority vote of the supervisory committee.

All University of Utah faculty members including regular (tenured or tenure track) research, clinical, emeritus, visiting, auxiliary, and adjunct are eligible to serve as supervisory committee members.  The faculty member must hold an academic or professional doctorate, the terminal degree in the relevant field, and/or must have demonstrated competence to do research and scholarly or artistic work in the student's general field.  Persons not from the University of Utah may also serve as committee members upon approval of the Dean of the Graduate School (a vita for the proposed committee members should accompany the request).  Committee chairs must be selected from regular faculty (tenured or tenured track). Immediate family members are not eligible to serve on a student's supervisory committee.

The supervisory committee is usually formed in the first year of graduate work.  It is the responsibility of the student to approach prospective committee members with respect to their willingness and availability to serve in such a capacity.  Faculty members have the right, however, for justifiable academic reasons, to refuse to serve on a student's supervisory committee.  The process of forming a supervisory committee is completed by filing a Request for Supervisory Committee form with the major department.

Supervisory Committees should follow the following guidelines:

  • Master's supervisory committees consist of three faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular (tenured or tenure track) faculty in the student's major department.
  • Doctoral supervisory committees consist of five faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular (tenured or tenure track) faculty in the student's major department.  One member of the supervisory committee must be from another department.
  • Exceptions to these guidelines must be recommended and justified by the Director of Graduate Studies of the Department or the Department Chair, depending on departmental polices, and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Supervisory Committees are not set in stone, and a student can change their committee by filling out a Request to Change Supervisory Committee Personnel form available in the Anthropology main office from the Administrative Officer or Academic Advisor, signatures are required from the Committee chair and the new committee member.
  • Don't be afraid to change around some members of your committee, but be polite when informing a committee member you'll no longer be requiring their supervisory services.  Please make sure to update the Academic Advisor so she can update your electronic file.

NOTE: If a graduate student leaves the University without requesting a leave of absence from the Department, the Supervisory Committee with be disbanded.

Committee Chair

Choosing a chair shouldn't be an overwhelming experience - ultimately, the chair is only one of three committee members.  The chair serves as an administrative contact and as someone the student can go to for guidance.

Committee Meetings

You should keep in close contact with your committee and schedule a committee meeting at least once a semester.  It is your responsibility as a graduate student to schedule committee meetings.  This includes contacting all committee members in order to find a mutually acceptable date and time, and reminding them of the meetings as they approach.  The student should prepare an agenda for the committee, itemizing all matters that the student wishes to discuss, and should have copies of the agenda for each committee member.  The student is responsible for taking minutes during the meeting.  After the meeting, the student should type up the minutes, sign and date them, have the committee chair sign and date them, and then turn the minutes in to the Academic Advisor to keep in the student's file.


Last Updated: 12/21/16