Baylor University
Department of Physics
College of Arts and Sciences

Baylor > Physics > Graduate Programs > Dissertation Committee Formation Policy
Dissertation Committee Formation Policy

Department of Physics Dissertation Committee Policy

By the second year in the Physics program at Baylor, a graduate student should be attending the research group meetings of a Physics department faculty member who the graduate student is considering as a potential Ph.D. research advisor. Then, by the end of the first semester following passing of all sections of the Ph.D. Preliminary Exam, a graduate student should chose his or her dissertation research advisor and be accepted as (or under consideration to become) a research student by that advisor. It then becomes the joint responsibility of the graduate student and the dissertation advisor to determine by the end of the next semester who will be three additional physics department members (or two department members and one external member) of the graduate student’s dissertation committee. (Committee members may be changed between initial appointment and the Oral Defense if anyone becomes unavailable.) A month prior to each anniversary of the appointment of a defense committee, both the graduate student and the advisor shall prepare and submit to these committee members separate letters (of around 1 to 2 pages each) describing: (i) the graduate student’s long-term research plans/goals for dissertation research, and any revisions to these that may have developed in the past year; (ii) the graduate student’s research accomplishments of the past year and progress towards dissertation goals; (iii) research plans and goals for the next year; and (iv) any concerns of the advisor or of the graduate student about the project, the past year’s accomplishments, and/or graduate student-advisor interactions. (Note: the graduate student may consult the research advisor in preparation of the student’s report, if the student so wishes.) The dissertation committee members, including the advisor, shall then meet within one month after receipt of both letters to discuss the two reports and any significant concerns. If it is felt necessary, the committee shall meet with the student to discuss any concerns. The student will be expected to resolve any issues that the committee deems the student’s responsibility by the time of the next committee review in one year, or sooner, as determined by the committee. If ongoing concerns of the dissertation committee regarding the graduate student’s research progress still exist after one year, the committee may consider as one possible recourse a vote for dismissal of the student from the advisor’s research group. If a vote from the committee (including the advisor) for dismissal is unanimous, the student will be dismissed from the advisor’s research group prior to the beginning of the next semester. It will then be the responsibility of the graduate student to find another research advisor, if possible, and to be accepted into the advisor’s research group. Alternately, if the dissertation committee, not including the advisor, expresses concerns about advisor—graduate student interaction issues and a majority recommends the graduate student transfer to another research group, the graduate student may seek research under another advisor. (Note that this is always the right of the graduate student, independent of dissertation committee recommendation).

It will also be the duty of a dissertation committee to assist the graduate student in his or her search for post-graduation employment. Specifically, for at least a year prior to the planned dissertation defense, the dissertation committee should provide assistance, as is realistically possible, with the graduate student’s job search.