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Committee Selection

Assembling a Faculty Committee

The information below has been gathered for your convenience from the UC Merced Graduate Advisor's Handbook and from graduate group Policies and Procedures. If you have questions or concerns, contact a faculty advisor, graduate group chair or staff graduate specialist.


The dissertation committee is a unique feature of doctoral education. The committee's primary goal is to provide each student with the guidance and support she/he will need to conduct an independent research project of the highest quality and relevancy. The heart of the Ph.D. program is the completion of a piece of original scientific research leading to the preparation and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation.


The graduate advisor, normally in consultation with the student and other program faculty, recommends appointment of faculty members to advise on and supervise each student’s dissertation research as part of their examination committees. Final approval of committee membership rests with the dean of Graduate Studies.

Questions to Consider when Selecting your Thesis/Dissertation Committee Members

  1. What specific expertise will the member bring to your dissertation committee?
    1. Why do you want this person on your committee?
    2. Does the person have expertise in the subject of your study?
    3. Does the person have expertise in the methodology you plan to use in your study?
  2. How well do you know the person you intend to invite?
    1. Have you established a positive, professional relationship with this person?
    2. Does this person know the quality of your work?
    3. Have you had enough interactions with this person to take direction and advice from him/her?
  3. Will the person make the time to contribute to your work?
    1. Can you expect this person to remain on your committee for the duration?
    2. Can you expect to receive timely and constructive feedback on your work from him/her?
  4. How well will your committee members work together as a team?
    1. Does your chair know the committee members and does the chair have a positive, professional relationship with the members?
    2. Do your committee members know each other professionally or personally?
    3. What is the history of the relationships between your committee members?

When to Have Your First Meeting:

Review the webpage on annual meetings, and refer to your graduate group's policies and procedures.

Replacing a Committee Member / Reconstitution of Committee

  1. If a committee member’s absence from campus for an extended period of time makes scheduling of examinations unreasonably difficult, the student may request that the committee be reconstituted.
  2. Reconstitution of the committee may also be justified by a substantial change in the student’s thesis topic or may be required by the departure of a committee member from the university.

When membership changes must be made, the graduate advisor in consultation with the student should recommend a new committee member, giving the reason for the change. The student must file a Request for Reconstitution of Committee Membership.