Return to: Capstone Research: Master’s Thesis
When members of the faculty in a graduate program accept the duty of serving as a committee to advise a student through the thesis requirement to earn a master’s degree, they assume a dual responsibility of high importance. One part is service to the student; the other is service to the academic practice, the discipline, and the professional field to which the thesis is related. For the first part, expectations concerning the faculty service to be performed are determined by the needs of the student and university academic policy pertaining to how these are to be addressed. For the second, expectations are set both by university academic policy and by policies and practice that frame acceptable work in the discipline and professional field at large.
Role of Thesis Supervisory Committee Chairperson
The individual faculty member who serves as chairperson of the thesis committee is the key person in the process of a student’s production of an acceptable thesis. The chairperson has the primary responsibility of assuring that the work of the committee effectively fulfills both the expectations of service to the student and service to the academic discipline or disciplines and professional fields of practice involved. While the thesis must be the student’s work, the committee is expected to offer full support from their experiences and backgrounds and related resources of the university at large. For more information on the specific duties of the Thesis Chair, please consult the Thesis Guidebook.
Nomination of the Thesis Chair
Students begin the thesis phase of their program when they nominate a committee chairperson. Visit the Thesis Process web page and see the Committee Nomination form.
The form must be completed and submitted to the chosen faculty member. The faculty member then submits the form to email@example.com. The Office of Student Research Administration (OSRA) will not accept an approval form for a directly from the student. Approval of the committee and registration will be coordinated by the Graduate Student Services Coordinators and the Academic Advising Team.
Students are responsible for verifying that the Graduate Student Services Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) receives the completed Committee Nomination form and that they are registered for the correct course(s).
Changing a Thesis Chair
The approved thesis chair will serve students until their theses have been completed and approved. Only under special circumstances will the replacement of a chair be considered once work on a thesis has commenced. When circumstances arise that necessitate reconsideration of faculty appointments, the process detailed below will be followed to help minimize disruption of academic service.
If a student is pursuing a change in thesis chair, he or she will need to discuss this issue with the academic advising team to identify potential replacements. Once a potential member is found, the student will be responsible to obtain written assent from this new member to serve on his or her committee.
In requesting a change for one or multiple committee members, a student will need to file a Student Petition form with the college. The petition will be reviewed and a decision will be rendered by the dean or designee of the college. Students should take the following steps in requesting the change:
- Include written approval (e-mail) from the proposed member. Students requesting to change a committee member for another faculty member will need to obtain assent from the proposed member. A petition that fails to include the approval from the new proposed member will not be considered.
- Describe the outcome that the student is seeking. Example: “I would like to change my chairperson from Dr. Smith to Dr. Jones.”
- Provide a detailed rationale that demonstrates the need for the requested change.
Any change in committee formation will become effective at the start of the next term. Additional information about this process can be obtained from the Graduate Services Coordinators of the OSRA at email@example.com.