3.2 Advisory Committees

A. Advisory Committee Requirement and Composition
B. Functions and Requirements
C. Process of Submitting Names of Members to Graduate School
D. Committee Members from Other Institutions
E. Representation for Minor Course Work at Another Institution
F. Substitution of Committee Members for Exams
G. Permanent Changes in Committee Members

It is the student's responsibility, with the assistance of his/her graduate advisor, to select a graduate advisory committee. The graduate advisor serves as chair or co-chair of the committee, consisting of graduate faculty members. The Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) approves and electronically submits the advisory committee names to the Graduate School for final approval.

A. Advisory Committee Requirement and Composition
All students in graduate programs must have a graduate advisor who is a member of the graduate faculty in the student's major program. The graduate advisor is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the DGP. In the case of doctoral programs and master's programs requiring theses and/or final oral examinations, the graduate advisor serves as chair or co-chair of the committee.

  • 1. Committee administrative structure

    • (a) Every committee shall have a chair or two co-chairs or a chair and a vice-chair.
    • (b) A vice-chair is a full member of the graduate faculty and is required on doctoral committees in which the chair is an associate member of the graduate faculty. The vice-chair, who is subordinate to the chair, will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate procedures are followed and that adequate mentoring of the student is taking place. In no other situation will a vice-chair be allowed.
    • (c) Co-chair means equally shared responsibilities.
  • 2. Master's students

    • (a) For master's students in all programs except "Option B," the committee consists of a minimum of three graduate faculty members, including the graduate major advisor or committee chair. If a minor has been declared, one member of the committee must be from the minor field. The Graduate School verifies the committee when the DGP submits the Request to Permit to Schedule the Master's Oral Examination.
    • (b) If a minor has not been declared, it is up to the individual program whether to require external representation on the committee. In a master's program of graduate study in which the minor is classified as interdisciplinary, one of the areas must be represented by a committee member from that area. [Recommended by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on 12/12/91.]
    • (c) Option B master's students do not require a committee. However, the Graduate School will verify the appropriate major advisor when the DGP submits the student's Request for Option B Graduation Checkout.
  • 3. Doctoral students

    • (a) Doctoral programs require a minimum of four graduate faculty members, including the graduate advisor who serves as chair or co-chair of the committee. One of these faculty members must be from the minor field if the student has declared a minor.
    • (b) If a doctoral graduate committee has no representation outside of the student’s graduate program, a Graduate School Representative is required.
    • (c) When a minor is not required and has not been declared, it is up to individual programs whether to require external representation on the four-person committee (excluding the Graduate School Representative). An associate member of the graduate faculty may co-chair the committee if the other co-chair is a full member, and may chair the committee as long as a full member serves as vice-chair (see A.1.b above). [Recommended by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on 6/16/2010.]
    • (d) The committee is indicated on the Plant of Graduate Work, which is submitted no later than when the student has completed 18 hours of graduate course work. In this way, the committee is officially recommended by the DGP and must be approved by the Graduate School at the time of the approval of the Plan of Graduate Work. The Plan of Graduate Work is submitted online through MyPack Portal.
    • (e) At the time that the Plan of Graduate Work is approved, the Graduate School appoints the Graduate School Representative (see Section 1.6) to serve on the doctoral committee.

B. Functions and Requirements of the Advisory Committee
The primary function of the committee is to advise the student in all aspects of the educational program and to monitor and evaluate that student's progress toward the degree. Thus, the committee must be very active throughout the student's program of graduate training, beginning with helping the student prepare his or her Plan of Graduate Work. The committee should provide an intellectually stimulating foundation for the student's professional and scholarly development and should be sensitive to any difficulties in the student's progress, research performance or methodology requiring attention.

The committee certifies whether the student has met NC State's standards for a graduate degree. Advising and guiding the student on how best to qualify for the requirements of a degree is a key part of this responsibility. The committee and the student are encouraged to meet in formal sessions at appropriate intervals to critically assess the student's progress; such meetings may be requested by the student or by any member of the committee. However, the necessity of frequent personal contact between the student and committee members cannot be overemphasized. Committee members have the obligation to express to the student any concerns they may have regarding the student's performance, to stipulate the level and quality of work expected, and to offer guidelines to aid in the fulfillment of those expectations.

Thesis and Dissertation Responsibilities. The chair/co-chair/vice-chair and, to a lesser extent, the other members of the advisory committee are responsible for the following aspects of the thesis or dissertation and the related or associated research experience:

  1. approval of the subject matter and methodology of the thesis or dissertation research;
  2. approval of the organization, content and format of the thesis or dissertation according to NC State required and optional formatting guidelines as provided in the Thesis and Dissertation Guide;
  3. review of and comment on drafts of various sections of the thesis or dissertation, including (a) the quality of data and evidence, (b) logical reasoning, and (c) the editorial, linguistic and bibliographic quality;
  4. evaluation of the thesis or dissertation as a basis for certification that the student has fulfilled the requirements of the degree for which he or she is a candidate; and
  5. encouragement of and advice to the student and review of manuscripts based on the thesis or dissertation research for publication in the scholarly literature of his or her field.

C. Process of Submitting Names of Committee Members to Graduate School
Graduate programs that submit students' Plans of Graduate Work to the Graduate School electronically (via SIS) necessarily list the committee members on one of the accompanying SIS screens. Any changes in committee members can likewise be submitted electronically.

In some special situations, it is necessary to submit Plans of Graduate Work in hard copy form. In so doing, the committee members must be designated on the form. Should the student, in consultation with his or her advisor, wish to change any members (see below), he or she must submit a revised Plan of Graduate Work with the new members, indicating that this change has been approved by the advisor and by the DGP. Original signatures of the student, the committee members, and the DGP must be included. The revised and signed Plan of Work must then be submitted to the Graduate School by the DGP.

D. Committee Members from Other Institutions
If the program recommends the appointment of a committee member who is not an NC State graduate faculty member, it should be made clear to that person that he or she will be expected to participate in the comprehensive oral examinations. The selection of committee members will generally depend upon the student's major interest and research and also upon the availability of certain faculty members.

In addition to graduate faculty from NC State, there are three types of non-NC State faculty who may be appointed to a graduate committee: inter-institutional faculty, external (voting) members, and technical consultants.

  • 1. Interinstitutional Graduate Faculty

    • Graduate Faculty from UNC-CH, UNC-G, and Duke. A member of the graduate faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, or Duke University may serve as one of the required committee members when appropriate. These are courtesy appointments and the members serve at the pleasure of the DGP of the program, the Associate Dean of the College involved, and the Dean of the Graduate School.

      Members of professional programs at these institutions, such as faculty at the School of Law or Medical School at UNC or Duke, cannot serve as automatic graduate faculty unless their appointment at their respective institution explicitly states that they are on the graduate faculty. A Graduate Advisory Committee Appointment Form for Interinstitutional Member must be completed for faculty from these institutions. Should their appointment be for that professional school only, then they must follow the guidelines discussed for External Members and/or Technical Consultants (see below).
    • Cooperative Doctoral Program Graduate Faculty from UNC-system Institutions. In addition to the non-degree-specific interinstitutional arrangement of NC State, UNC, UNC-G and Duke, NC State has established cooperative doctoral programs with other UNC-system institutions. Faculty from UNC-C, UNC-W, and NC A&T, participating in cooperative doctoral programs with NC State do not require a special form to be appointed to a student's advisory committee.
  • 2. External Members. A faculty member from another university (who is not an interinstitutional graduate faculty member) or a professional from industry or government with credentials comparable to those required for membership on the graduate faculty, may serve as an external member, in addition to the number of committee members normally required (four for doctoral degrees and three for master's degrees).

    • Appointment
      . To appoint an external member, the DGP must submit a Graduate Advisory Committee Appointment Form for External Member/Technical Consultant along with the proposed external member's curriculum vitae.
    • Responsibilities. External members will have full voting privileges and are expected to participate in the student's preliminary and final examinations. They will also be consulted in the development of the student's Plan of Graduate Work and will sign the thesis or dissertation of students in thesis and dissertation programs. [Recommended by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on 6/4/92.]
  • 3. Technical Consultants. A person from industry, a governmental agency, or a university may, upon recommendation of the committee and the DGP, serve as a technical consultant along with the required committee members.

    • Appointment
      . To appoint a technical consultant, a Graduate Advisory Committee Appointment Form for External Member/Technical Consultant must be submitted to the Graduate School, along with a statement describing the Technical Consultant's potential contribution to the student's research or project.
    • Responsibilities. Technical consultants serve in an advisory capacity to students in the conduct of research for their dissertation, thesis or master's project. Technical consultants are expected to participate in the student's preliminary and final examinations and may sign the thesis of students in thesis degree programs. However, they will not vote on the outcome of the examinations.

E. Representation for Minor Course Work at Another Institution
When all or most of the course work in the minor has been completed at another institution and the area involved is one in which NC State offers a graduate program, the Plan of Graduate Work must be approved by a faculty member of the appropriate NC State department who serves as a member of the student's advisory committee.

In certain approved minors, all of the course work may occur at UNC-CH, Duke or UNC-G. A graduate faculty member from the appropriate institution must represent the minor.

F. Substitution of Committee Members for Exams
Under extenuating circumstances, it may be necessary for a member of a graduate advisory committee to have a substitute at committee meetings or the exam. The substitution of a committee member on an oral examination must be requested in writing by the DGP and approved by the Graduate School in advance of the examination. It is extremely important to have clear communication between committee members and substitutes so that new expectations or concerns do not arise at the time of the final oral examination. [Recommended by the Administrative Board of the Graduate School and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School on 10/5/89.]

G. Permanent Changes in Committee Members

  • 1. Changes Before Examinations. Should the student, in consultation with his/her advisor, wish to change any of the committee members, he/she must submit a revised Plan of Graduate Work with the new members, indicating that this change has been approved by the advisor and by the DGP. Original signatures of the student, the committee members, and the DGP must be included. The DGP must submit the revised and signed Plan of Work to the Graduate School.
  • Disagreements within the committee or between the student and a committee member over the quality of a student's performance are not grounds for reconstituting the committee. If the student believes that he or she has been unjustly or unfairly treated in efforts to resolve committee conflicts, he or she has the right to grieve this issue, according to the current University Grievance Procedures for Graduate Students.
  • 2. Changes After Preliminary Examinations. Changes in doctoral committee membership after preliminary exams requires signatures of both outgoing and incoming committee members and the student, as well as justification for the committee change. Approval by the Graduate School is required before holding any examinations.