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Guide for Graduate Students

Graduate Committees

Graduate Studies Committee
Master’s program committees
Doctoral program committees

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Ph.D. Program Committees

The form to use for all committee appointments is the one the Graduate School calls the “Thesis/Dissertation Faculty Committee” form, available at (pdf). Every time you change your committee, you must fill this out, get all committee signatures, and submit it to the office and Graduate Coordinator. The office will pass it on to the Graduate School when this is necessary.

Advisory Committee: The Graduate Coordinator advises all students admitted into the history graduate program when they first enroll. During the first semester, or at latest the second semester, you must choose an Advisory Committee composed of a major professor with Full Graduate Faculty status representing the proposed major field and at least two other Graduate Faculty members. representing the proposed minor fields. If at all possible the committee should have as a fourth member a second professor representing the major field. You and your major professor should arrange for the committee to meet shortly after it is formed to assist you in finalizing your fields of study, determining the choice of courses, evaluating the suitability of credits proposed for transfer from other institutions (usually from previous M.A. work) and judging the applicability of earlier coursework to the Ph.D. fields of study. The committee must issue all its decisions in writing, giving copies to you and the Graduate Coordinator. Use the Ph.D. Planning Form for this purpose, which you can get at (MS Word). You should get this form as soon as possible and start keeping track of your progress and plans right away. It is especially important that your committee fill in the box on the second page of the planning form labeled “Please write all Advising Committee recommendations and requirements in this space.” It should itemize all that you must do to advance to the comprehensive exams. The Advisory Committee will continue to advise you about academic matters until you form the Comprehensives Examination Committee, which will normally happen shortly after the Advisory Committee has itemized what you have to do to reach the exam stage.

Comprehensive Examination Committee: This committee succeeds and usually has the same membership as the Advisory Committee. You will consult and work closely with its individual members about what you need to do to prepare for the comprehensive examination. You should think of all you do in the program in terms of this exam, and begin intensive direct preparation for it as soon as possible (see above, under Comprehensive Examination for detailed information). The Comprehensive Examination Committee has four faculty members: the major professor and another member from the dissertation field and one representative from each of the two minor fields. In the case of a special field that spans two or more traditional fields, or for other reasons approved by the committee, it is possible to have more than one professor representing that field on the committee, but the length of the exam that you write for that field does not change. You should provide each field representative with a list of all courses, readings, and papers in the field and thereafter consult with the representative concerning any additional readings, etc., that you need to do to prepare for the exam. You should do this no later than the beginning of the semester in which you sign up for the required Reading for and Writing Comprehensives course in the field, and usually at least one semester before completing the comprehensive examinations. Please note that the Ph.D. comps are over each field, and questions are not necessarily limited to material you have covered in coursework. You may not use any notes or other external materials in the oral parts of the exam. Although field representatives should be willing to discuss your readings and preparation, it is your responsibility to survey the field comprehensively. Any member of this committee who is not University of Memphis faculty must apply for graduate faculty status. See below under Dissertation Committee for directions.

Dissertation Committee: Your major professor chairs the Dissertation Committee and assists you in the choice of other committee members. There must be at least four members of a Dissertation Committee and the membership may be different from that of the Comprehensive Examination Committee. All Dissertation Committee members must be Graduate Faculty, and the major professor/chair and at least two other members must hold Full Graduate Faculty status. Generally the committee consists of faculty members whose expertise is related to the subject matter of the dissertation, although it sometimes helps to include at least one person from outside the area. It is also often beneficial to have a member from outside the department, or even outside the university. Any member from outside the university must apply for Adjunct Graduate Faculty status, but this is a simple matter of filling out a short form (to show that the person has a Ph.D. and a record of accomplishment in the field) and attaching a Curriculum vitae. The form for this at, and if the Graduate Coordinator judges such members to meet the additional qualifications for Full Graduate Faculty, they may be counted toward the number of three members with Full Graduate Faculty status required. In addition, it is now possible for a University of Memphis faculty member to share the direction of a dissertation with someone outside the university, who serves as a “Adjunct Research Co-Mentor.”

You should form the Dissertation Committee immediately after you pass the comprehensive examination. Its first duty will be to help you refine or choose your dissertation topic, then to help you plan and write your dissertation prospectus. When you present this in a public forum within a semester of passing the exam, it may suggest revisions, and then will formally approve it Afterwards, it continues to advise you on the writing of the dissertation, and, eventually, conducts the dissertation defense. Normally, all members of the committee are available to help you throughout the dissertation process, especially to give advice and read and critique chapters as they are written. In all cases, you must provide all committee members with a draft of the dissertation far enough in advance of the defense to enable them to make recommendations for further research or substantial revisions.

You should still direct technical questions about department and university requirements and policies and requests for registration clearance to the Graduate Coordinator. Do not ask anyone else to clear you; only the Graduate Coordinator can do this.

University of Memphis faculty in a post-retirement program retain their graduate faculty status and can continue to serve as committee chair. After full retirement they must apply for adjunct graduate faculty status, and so cannot chair, except as an Adjunct Research Co-Mentor, but it is possible to apply for an exception when graduation is near or under special circumstances.

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