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Doctoral & Master's Committees

Find information on how to form doctoral and master's committees.

Appointment of the Doctoral Committee

A doctoral committee conducts the qualifying examination, supervises the preparation of the dissertation, passes the dissertation, and administers the final defense. An advancement exam or defense must not be scheduled unless the Graduate Division has approved the student's committee. Students are advised to consult the department graduate advisor and/or coordinator at least six weeks prior to the exam.

The following policy is a general one for all doctoral students at UC San Diego. A department may have more specific requirements for appointments (e.g., a departmental ladder rank faculty member on each committee) and the department chair has final departmental authority to recommend a committee.

Completed committee form must be electronically submitted to the Graduate Division no later than two weeks prior to the date scheduled for the qualifying examination or doctoral defense.

The department chair’s electronic approval of the committee form is certification that the composition of the doctoral committee is in compliance with Senate Regulations concerning Requirements for Higher Degrees.

 

 Membership of the Ph.D. committee must comply with the Manual of the San Diego Division, Academic Senate, Regulation 715. (The Senate website will be updated shortly. See the updated rules here.) Effective for Fall 2021, committee membership rules have been updated to reflect the following significant changes:

  • Minimum of 4 members with UC San Diego faculty appointments
  • At least 1 member must have a primary appointment in a different department than the chair's primary department
  • At least 2 members must be from the student's home department or program
  • At least 1 member must be tenured or emeritus
  • Proposed members from other UC campuses, other universities, or industry are exceptions and must be requested in writing

Senate Regulation 715 states in full:

In consultation with their faculty dissertation advisor and following their Ph.D. program
guidelines, candidates shall request to appoint a Doctoral Committee consisting of at
least four members with faculty appointments at UC San Diego. Eligibility of faculty in
different academic series at UC San Diego to serve on and/or chair Doctoral
Committees is determined by the Graduate Council. At least one Doctoral Committee
member must have their primary appointment in a different department than the one in
which the candidate’s dissertation advisor/Doctoral Committee Chair holds their primary
appointment. (Doctoral Committee Co-Chairs from different departments or programs
satisfy this requirement; note that, even with evenly split appointments, faculty are
primary in one department). At least two Doctoral Committee members must be from the
department or program in which the student is enrolled and at least one Doctoral
Committee member must be tenured or emeritus.

Additional committee members beyond the required four members can be requested to
serve, including from another UC campus, non-UC academic institutions and industry.
Appointment of such external members who will participate in Doctoral Committee
decisions must be justified with a written explanation at the time of requesting committee
constitution and must be approved by the Graduate Division. Willingness of external
members to serve on the committee must be verified prior to nomination and efforts
should be made to maintain continuity of service on the committee for the duration of
candidacy.

Departments and graduate programs that have received approval from the Council for exceptions to the membership requirements for Ph.D. committees remain in effect (e.g. Div. of Biological Sciences, Neurosciences Graduate Program).

Membership of the DMA doctoral committee must comply with the Manual of the San Diego Division, Academic Senate Regulation 717

 

Academic Senate regulations: 

http://senate.ucsd.edu/operating-procedures/educational-policies/academic-degrees/

Appointment of the Master's Thesis Committee

A master's thesis committee supervises the preparation of the thesis, passes the thesis, and administers the final defense. For programs that require a defense, it must not take place unless the Graduate Division has approved the student's committee. Students are advised to consult the department graduate advisor and/or coordinator at least four weeks prior to the defense.

The following policy is a general one for all master’s thesis students at UC San Diego. A department may have more specific requirements for appointments (e.g., a departmental ladder rank faculty member on each committee) and the department chair has final departmental authority to recommend a committee.

Completed committee form must be electronically submitted to the Graduate Division no later than two weeks prior to the date scheduled for the thesis defense.

The department chair’s electronic approval of the committee form is certification that the composition of the master’s committee is in compliance with Senate Regulations concerning Requirements for Higher Degrees.

Please use the Doctoral Committee Membership Table to determine which academic titles may serve on Master's committees and in which capacity.

 

 Membership of the master's thesis committee must comply with the Manual of the San Diego Division, Academic Senate, Regulation 700, which states:

a master's thesis to be approved by a committee of three faculty members appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies. [Am 12/9/14]

The Graduate Council confirms that that at least 2 members must be from the candidate's major department.

Please note: There is no requirement for a tenured or emeritus member, and a 4th member is considered an additional member. MFA committees consist of 4 faculty members: 3 from the department and 1, preferably tenured, from outside the student's department.

 

Appointment of the Joint Doctoral Program Committee

A doctoral committee conducts the qualifying examination, supervises the preparation of the dissertation, passes the dissertation, and administers the final defense. An advancement exam or defense must not be scheduled unless the Graduate Division has approved the student's committee. Students are advised to consult the program's graduate advisor and/or coordinator at least six weeks prior to the exam.

 Completed committee form must be electronically submitted to the Graduate Division no later than two weeks prior to the date scheduled for the qualifying examination or doctoral defense.

The department/program chair’s electronic approval of the committee form is certification that the composition of the doctoral committee is in compliance with Senate Regulations concerning Requirements for Higher Degrees.

 

Per San Diego Senate Regulation 715: Guidelines on Doctoral Committee composition are modified for joint Ph.D. programs offered collaboratively by San Diego State University and UC San Diego with the approval of the Graduate Council. Joint Doctoral Program rules vary by program. Please consult the program directly or contact Sara Miceli in the Graduate Division with any questions.

A Doctoral Committee of five or more members shall be appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies under the authority of the Graduate Council. At least five of the committee members shall be officers of instruction and no fewer than four shall hold professorial titles (of any rank). The committee members shall be chosen from at least two departments, and at least two members shall represent academic specialties that differ from the student’s chosen specialty. In all cases, each committee must include one tenured or emeritus UCSD faculty member from outside the student’s major department. [Am 10/26/93]

Membership of the AuD doctoral committee must comply with the Manual of the San Diego Division, Academic Senate Regulation 716.

Membership of the Ed.D. doctoral committee must comply with the Manual of the San Diego Division, Academic Senate Regulation 718.

 

Academic Senate regulations: 

http://senate.ucsd.edu/operating-procedures/educational-policies/academic-degrees/

Doctoral [and Master's] Committee Membership Table

The Doctoral Committee Membership Table specifies which academic titles may serve on doctoral and Master's committees and in what capacity.1,2  The faculty titles listed on the chart refer to UC San Diego faculty members only (with the exception of the "Professor from another UC campus or Non-UC institution" title). 

The Dean of Graduate Division will consider exceptions to individual committee membership with plausible justification from the graduate program.

Applicable to committees constituted as of Fall 2021 

  Title   Chair   Co-Chair   Tenured
  Member
  One of Four
  UCSD Members
  Additional
  Member
  PROFESSOR (LADDER-RANK) SERIES, including Emeritus
  Full & Associate^ Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant^ Y Y N Y Y
  PROFESSOR IN RESIDENCE SERIES:
  Full & Associate^ Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant^ Y Y N Y Y
 PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL "X" SERIES
  All Ranks^ Y Y N Y Y
  TEACHING PROFESSOR (LECTURER WITH (POTENTIAL) SECURITY OF EMPLOYMENT) SERIES
  All Ranks^ Y+ Y+ N Y Y
  ACTING PROFESSOR SERIES
  Full & Associate^ Y Y N Y Y
  Assistant N Y N Y Y
  ADJUNCT PROFESSOR SERIES (Full-Time Salaried Adjuncts in the Health Sciences)
  Full & Associate Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant Y Y N Y Y
  ADJUNCT PROFESSOR SERIES including Non-Salaried Appointments in the Health Sciences)*
  All Ranks Y# Y# N Y Y
  PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE SERIES*
  Full Y# Y# N Y Y
  Visiting N N N N Y
  HEALTH SCIENCES CLINICAL PROFESSOR SERIES
  All Ranks N N N N Y
  VISITING PROFESSOR SERIES
  All Ranks N N N N Y
  PROFESSOR FROM ANOTHER UC CAMPUS OR NON-UC INSTITUTION (All Series) 
  All Ranks N N N N Y
  LECTURER SERIES (Non-Senate Instructional Unit)
  All Ranks N N N N Y##
  RESEARCH SCIENTIST SERIES (must also have Lecturer/Educator appointment)
  All Ranks Y Y N Y Y
  RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, RESEARCH FELLOW & PROJECT SCIENTIST/SCHOLAR:
  All Ranks N N N N Y##


^Confers Academic Senate membership, see https://senate.ucsd.edu/Operating-Procedures/Senate-Manual/Appendices/105.1
*Only one person in this category per committee unless there are more than five members.
#Adjunct professors and Professors of Practice of all ranks may serve as chairs of doctoral committees as long as a ladder rank faculty member serve as a co-chair.
##Voluntary basis.
+Teaching Professors of all ranks may serve as chair or co-chair with exception by Dean of Graduate Division or Graduate Council.


1 San Diego Senate Regulation 715.B defines the requirements for doctoral committee composition. A doctoral committee consists of at least four members with faculty appointments at UC San Diego. Eligibility of faculty in different academic series to serve on and/or chair doctoral committees is determined by the Graduate Council.
2 The Doctoral Committee Membership Table applies to Master’s thesis committees with regards to which academic titles are eligible serve on thesis committees and in what roles but the rules for committee composition differ from doctoral committees. For Master’s thesis committees: three UCSD members are required, there is no requirement for a tenured outside member, and a fourth member is considered an additional member.


Printable committee table

Joint Doctoral Committee Membership Table

Per San Diego Senate Regulation 715: Guidelines on Doctoral Committee composition are modified for joint Ph.D. programs offered collaboratively by San Diego State University and UC San Diego with the approval of the Graduate Council.

The Doctoral Committee Membership Table specifies which academic titles may serve on doctoral committees  and in what capacity. The faculty titles listed on the chart refer to UC San Diego faculty members only (with the exception of the "Professor from another UC campus" title). 

The Dean of Graduate Division will consider exceptions to individual committee membership with plausible justification from the graduate program.

Applicable to JDP Committees, and PhD Committees constituted prior to Fall 2021

Title Professorial Title Senate Member Officer of Instruction Tenured Outside Member Chair Co-Chair One of Five Members Sixth Member
  PROFESSOR SERIES:
  Full & 
  Associate
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y
  IN-RESIDENCE PROFESSOR SERIES:
  Full &
  Associate
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y
  FULL-TIME SALARIED ADJUNCT PROFESSOR IN HEALTH SCIENCES:
  Full &
  Associate
Y N Y Y Y Y Y Y
  Assistant Y N Y N Y Y Y Y
  ACTING PROFESSOR SERIES:
  Full &
  Associate
Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y
  Assistant Y N Y N N Y Y Y
  ADJUNCT SERIES*: (including non-salaried appointments in Health Sciences)
  All Ranks Y N Y N Y# Y# Y Y
  PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE*:
  Full Y N Y N Y# Y# Y Y
  Visiting Y N Y N N N N Y
  PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL "X" SERIES:
  All Ranks Y Y Y N N Y Y Y
  CLINICAL PROFESSOR SERIES:
  All Ranks Y N Y N N N N Y
  VISITING PROFESSOR SERIES:
  All Ranks Y N Y N N N N Y
  PROFESSOR EMERITUS SERIES:
  All Ranks Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
  PROFESSOR FROM ANOTHER UC CAMPUS**: 
  All Ranks Y Y Y N N Y Y Y
 FULL-TIME TEACHING PROFESSOR SERIES: (including LPSOE and LSOE)
  All Ranks N Y Y N Y+ Y+ Y Y
  LECTURER SERIES:
  Lecturer &
  Sr.
  Lecturer
N N Y N N N N Y##
  RESEARCH SCIENTIST/SCHOLAR: (must also have Lecturer/Educator appointment)
  All Ranks N N Y N Y Y Y Y
  RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, RESEARCH FELLOW & PROJECT SCIENTIST/SCHOLAR:
  All Ranks N N N N N N N Y##

 

*Only one person in this category per committee unless there are more than five members.
**May serve as a member inside or outside the student's home department.
#Adjunct professors and Professors of Practice of all ranks may serve as chairs of doctoral committees as long as a ladder rank faculty member serve as a co-chair.
##Voluntary basis.
+Teaching Professors of all ranks may serve as chair or co-chair with exception by Dean of Graduate Division or Graduate Council.

Printable JDP committee table

Submission and Reconstitution of a Doctoral or Master's Committee

When submitting a new or reconstituted committee, the student must consult with their committee chair to ensure that the committee meets their research needs. The student must also consult with their department/program coordinator to ensure the committee meets the standards of their graduate program.

For a variety of reasons a doctoral or master’s committee may need to be reconstituted. The request to reconstitute the membership of a committee must specify the reason/s for the change and must be approved by the department chair and the committee chair. The reconstitution request must be submitted to the Graduate Division no less than two weeks prior to the qualifying examination or defense of the dissertation or thesis.

All requests for new or resconstituted doctoral or master's committees are submitted electronically via the Committee Membership tool.

Graduate Council Actions

 Graduate Council Action 4/8/93

A professor who leaves UC San Diego may continue to be on the committee and may serve as co-chair, but may not continue as chair.

 

Graduate Council Action Regarding Committee Participation at the Master's Thesis Defense 11/8/18

The preferred means to conduct a master's defense is when all members of the committee are physically present. The Council recognizes, however, that practical exigencies do not always make this possible. Therefore, the Council approves the following rules for conducting master's defenses: 

  1. A master's committee member can participate in one of three ways: 1) physically present (meaning they are in the room), 2) telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference), or 3) in advance (if they must be absent on the exam date, it is permissible to examine the candidate in advance of the exam date).
  2. More than half of the master's committee must be physically present. No more than one member may be telepresent. 
  3. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.
  4. If an emergency situation arises that affects the number of committee members present, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members (either physically or telepresent) to examine the student. 
  5. Departments and programs may impose more restrictive requirements regarding how to conduct these exams, as they deem appropriate. 

 

Graduate Council Action Regarding Committee Participation at the Doctoral Qualifying Examination and/or Final Defense 11/8/18

San Diego Senate Regulation 715, Requirements for the PhD Degree at San Diego, requires that the doctoral committee conduct the qualifying examination and final oral examination (the dissertation defense). The preferred means to conduct these examinations is when all members of the doctoral committee are physically present. The Council recognizes, however, that practical exigencies do not always make this possible. Therefore, the Council approves the following rules for conducting PhD qualifying exams and defenses:

1. A doctoral committee member can participate in one of three ways: physically present (meaning they are in the room), telepresent (meaning they participate by live video teleconference), or in advance (if they must be absent on the exam date, it is permissible to examine the candidate in advance of the exam date).
2. More than half of the doctoral committee must be physically present. No more than two members may be telepresent.
3. The committee chair, or one co-chair, must be physically present.
4. The outside tenured member must be physically present or telepresent.
5. If an emergency situation arises that affects the number of committee members present, the committee chair (or co-chairs) may decide how to proceed. There must be sufficient expertise among present members (either physically or telepresent) to examine the student.
6. Departments and programs may impose more restrictive requirements regarding how to conduct these exams, as they deem appropriate.

 

Graduate Council Action Regarding Teaching Professors Chairing MA/MS and Doctoral Committees 12/17/18

The Dean of the Graduate Division may review and make a decision on requests that involve allowing a Teaching Professor to chair or co-chair an individual student’s committee. If there is a second request to allow the same Teaching Professor to chair or co-chair another student’s committee, the Graduate Dean will forward the request to the Graduate Council. The Council will review the request for consideration of a blanket exception for that specific Teaching Professor to chair or co-chair any MS or PhD committee in their program.

Departments and programs may submit a request to the Graduate Council, via the Graduate Dean, to review and make a decision on requests to grant a blanket exception to allow an individual or group of Teaching Professors to chair or co-chair any MS or PhD committee in their program.

The criterion for approval of all the above exceptions is the demonstration of the Teaching Professor’s research expertise in their field. After a blanket approval has been granted, if the Graduate Division receives a report from a student, a Master or PhD committee, or a department, that the Teaching Professor does not have adequate research expertise in their  field, the Graduate Dean will bring the case forward to the Graduate Council. The Council, with input from the department, will re-examine the case and can revoke the blanket exception.