Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee Composition
To establish the requisite configuration of members on doctoral student oral examination committees, which include the doctoral comprehensive oral exam and the doctoral final oral exam.
All Lawrence/Edwards Campus Graduate students
Committee Composition Requirements
Doctoral student oral examinations include the doctoral comprehensive oral exam and the doctoral final oral exam (e.g., dissertation defense).
- Doctoral committees are composed of at least four (4) voting members. This is the minimum requirement. Individual schools, the College, or individual units and programs may set a higher minimum.
- While committee membership should be determined in consultation with the student, graduate units have the final determination on questions of committee membership.
- All committee members must be members of the Graduate Faculty authorized to serve on doctoral exams.
- The committee chair must be authorized to chair doctoral examinations.
- On a four-member (4-member) committee, at least two (2) of four (4) committee members must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the candidate's unit or program of study. For larger committees, a majority of committee members must be tenured or tenure-track.
Tenured and tenure-track faculty who are appointed as courtesy faculty within a program or unit are considered to be faculty of that program or unit for the purposes of committee composition.
As long as the majority requirement is met, additional committee members may be, but need not be, a member of the candidate’s unit or program.
- One (1) member must meet the requirements for serving as the Graduate Studies Representative (GSR), as outlined in the GSR policy.
As long as the conditions above are met, the committee may include more than four (4) members.
While committees are not required to have a co-chair, the student or the committee members may recommend a co-chair in addition to the chair of record. Co-chairs must be authorized to serve on doctoral committees. They need not be authorized to chair. Please see the Graduate Faculty Appointment policy for more information on the co-chair role.
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 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. Additions and substitutions must be approved by the Graduate Division in advance of the exam.
- Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) programs
10/10/2023: Corrected typos, updated language defining committee majorities.
09/19/2023: Updated language referring to "non-tenure track faculty" to "career/specialty faculty."
08/10/2023: Modified requirements for minimum committee number and clarified options for program-level exceptions. Refers to Graduate Faculty Appointment policy for more information on co-chair role.
07/13/2020: Changed Dean's Letter to the Graduate Studies Representatives to the Vice Provost's Letter to the Graduate Representatives.
02/14/2020: Policy change approved by Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and Provost Lejuez -- allows enumerated programs to appoint non-tenure-track faculty as internal majority committee members.
10/17/2019: Technical edit to align the language here with recent changes to the Graduate Faculty Appointments policy.
08/09/2018: Updated link to Dean's Letter to the Graduate Studies Representatives.
01/27/2015: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
10/21/2014: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
09/2014: This policy that specifically applies to doctoral 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.