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Supervisory Committees

What is a supervisory committee?

A supervisory committee guides and assists a student in working toward a graduate degree.

Master’s supervisory committees consist of three faculty members. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the student’s department.

Doctoral supervisory committees consist of five faculty members. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the student’s department. One member of the supervisory committee must be from another department.

What does a supervisory committee do?

The supervisory committee is responsible for

  • approving the student’s academic program,
  • preparing and judging the qualifying examinations subject to departmental policy,
  • approving the thesis or dissertation subject,
  • reading and approving the thesis or dissertation,
  • and administering and judging the final oral examination (thesis or dissertation defense).

The chair of the supervisory committee directs the student’s research and writing of the thesis or dissertation.

Other Responsibilities

  • The final oral examination may be chaired by any member of the supervisory committee consistent with departmental policy.
  • If a graduate student’s preliminary work is deficient, the supervisory committee may require supplementary undergraduate courses for which no graduate credit is granted.
  • Decisions concerning program requirements, examinations, and the thesis or dissertation are made by majority vote of the supervisory committee.

Who can serve on a supervisory committee?

  • All University of Utah faculty members including tenure-line, career-line, adjunct, visiting and emeritus are eligible to serve as supervisory committee members. 
    • The faculty member must hold an academic or professional doctorate, the terminal degree in the relevant field, and/or must have demonstrated competence to do research and scholarly or artistic work in the student’s general field.
    • Committee chairs must be selected from tenure-line faculty.
  • The director of graduate studies is required to review and approve an outside the University of Utah committee member;  this requires an updated CV and a brief justification letter from the director of graduate studies.  These documents must be uploaded to the graduate student's file.  The brief justification can also be entered in the committee comments.
  • Immediate family members are not eligible to serve on a student’s supervisory committee.

To see a list of all faculty, their home department, tenure status, rank and education credentials, visit the University Analytics and Institutional Reporting website.

When do I need to form a supervisory committee?

The supervisory committee is usually formed in the first year of graduate work.

It is the responsibility of the student to approach prospective committee members with a view to their willingness and availability to serve in such a capacity. Faculty have the right, however, for justifiable academic reasons, to refuse to serve on a student’s supervisory committee. The department chair or director of graduate studies, depending on departmental policy, appoints the chair and committee members.

The supervisory committee is entered into your Graduate Student Summary by your department. 

Individual Exception Petition to Supervisory Committee Policy

Students seeking an exception must submit a letter from the department chair or director of graduate studies recommending and justifying the individual exception to a supervisory committee policy, along with an updated CV for all proposed committee member(s) requiring the exception to policy.

  • Address the letter to the dean of the Graduate School
  • Include the full proposed supervisory committee listed with faculty titles, departments/colleges and tenure-line status indicated
  • Send letter and CV to the Graduate Records Office
Last Updated: 4/4/24