• Home
  • Master’s Student Oral Exam Committee Composition

Master’s Student Oral Exam Committee Composition


To establish the requisite configuration of members on the master’s student oral examination committees, which include the master’s comprehensive oral exam and the master’s final oral exam.

Applies to: 

All Lawrence/Edwards Campus graduate students in a master’s program.

Policy Statement: 

The master’s student oral examinations include any culminating or comprehensive oral examination and/or thesis defense required for graduation from a master's program.

  1. Committees are composed of at least three (3) voting members;
  2. All committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty authorized to serve on master's examinations;
  3. The committee chair must also be authorized to chair master's examinations; and
  4. The majority of committee members must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the candidate’s department or program of study. 
    • Tenured and tenure-track faculty who are appointed as courtesy faculty within a program or department are considered to be faculty of that program or department for the purposes of committee composition.
    • Program-level exceptions to allow career/specialty faculty with continuing appointments in the home department to count toward this majority requirement may be requested. Approved exceptions are noted below in Exclusions or Special Circumstances.
    • As long as the majority requirement is met, additional committee members may be, but need not be, members of the candidate’s department or program.

If the conditions above are met, the committee may include more than three (3) members.

While master’s committees are not required to have a co-chair, the student or the committee members may decide to select a co-chair in addition to the chair of record. Co-chairs must be authorized to serve on master’s committees. They need not be authorized to chair.

Substitutions of the committee chair (and/or co-chair) are prohibited after the committee has been approved by the Graduate Division of the school or College. If a committee chair (and/or co-chair) needs to be replaced, the revised committee must be approved by the Graduate Division of the school or College in advance of the exam.

Substitutions of the committee members are permitted as long as the new committee meets the requirements above. Additional members can be added after the committee has been approved by the Graduate Division of the school or College, but these additions must be approved by the Graduate Division of the school or College in advance of the exam.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Graduate Studies will manage any exceptions to the policy outlined above. Program requests for exceptions should be routed through the appropriate school or College for approval and then forwarded to the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies. Requests for exceptions should provide details of the exception requested and the extraordinary circumstances that have prompted the request.

The following master’s programs are approved to utilize career/specialty faculty with continuing appointments to meet the majority requirement outlined in section IV of this policy:

  • Master of Science in Engineering Management;
  • Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology;
  • Master of Science in Geology;
  • Master of Construction Management;
  • Master of Civil Engineering;
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering; 
  • Master of Science in Architectural Engineering; and
  • Master of Arts in Special Education 

Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Effective on: 
Friday, June 1, 2012
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Graduate student exam committee, Graduate degree requirements, Master’s final exam, Thesis defense, Graduate Faculty appointment
Change History: 

09/19/2023: Updated language referring to "non-tenure track faculty" to "career/specialty faculty."
09/12/2023: Added Master of Arts in Special Education to Exclusions or Special Circumstances.
07/27/2023: Changed language to clarify that continuing appointments refer specifically to those within the home department.
10/18/2022: Fixed typo.
07/21/2022: Changed to allow for program-level exceptions to article IV for non-tenure track faculty with continuing appointments.
06/25/2020: Changed Dean of Graduate Studies to Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
02/22/2019: Technical Edit - clarification of the exams to which this policy applies.
11/2014:  Graduate Studies added four programs to the exclusions list.
10/2014: Graduate Studies added a program to the exclusions list.
09/2014: Graduate Studies made minor edits and added a program to the list in the exclusions section.
05/2014: This policy that specifically applies to master’s student exams was developed from the preceding policy titled: Graduate Student Oral Exam Committee Composition. Prior to final approval by the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, this policy was reviewed and endorsed by the academic deans and associate deans, directors of graduate study, school personnel, the Executive Committee of Graduate Faculty, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
12/2012: Updates were made to the policy.
10/2012: Updates were made to the policy.
03/2012: The Office of the Provost approved Graduate Student Oral Exam Committee Composition policy.

Academic Categories: 
Academic Programs
Graduation & Degrees

Can't Find What You're Looking For?
Policy Library Search
New Policies in the last 30 days
KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times