A student who is nearing and/or conducting research in preparation for the thesis or dissertation stage is responsible for forming a thesis or dissertation committee. Members of the committee must review the student’s research proposal and indicate their approval by signing Form II. The committee is official once Form II has been approved by Graduate Student Services. The student must keep the committee informed of the scope, plan, and progress of the thesis or dissertation research and manuscript. Note the following policies regarding committee composition:

Committee Size & Potential Members

  • Thesis — three members or more
  • Dissertation — five members or more

Students may conduct an online search to locate potential committee members. The majority of the committee should be faculty from the student’s graduate program. However, exceptions are possible. Emeriti faculty may serve on a committee at the request of the student and the graduate program. Non-graduate faculty (i.e., ad-hoc member) may serve on a committee under special circumstances. If choosing a non-graduate faculty to serve on the committee, attach a request with justification and the individual’s current CV to Form II or submit the request and CV as soon as the student and this individual start working together. Graduate chairs have the privilege of being ex-officio members of all committees in their program.

Committee Chair

The chair is responsible for directing and guiding the student’s research and writing activities. He or she should possess expertise in the student’s chosen research topic. It is the responsibility of the student to select an appropriate topic and to ensure that a faculty member with expertise in the topic is available and willing to serve as chair.

  • Thesis — Chair must be a level 2 or 3 regular or cooperating graduate faculty member in the student’s graduate program.
  • Dissertation — Chair must be a level 3 regular or cooperating graduate faculty member in the student’s graduate program.

Committee Changes

Committee chair: Should a student’s Committee chair retire or resign from the university, if the student is considered ABT/ABD (i.e., eligible to register for Thesis 700 or Dissertation 800), the Committee chair can continue, if willing, to mentor the student through to graduation. If the student is not yet considered ABT/ ABD a new Committee chair would need to be identified to serve as chair.

Committee member: Should a member of a student’s committee retire or resign from the university, if the student is considered ABT/ABD (i.e., eligible to register for Thesis 700 or Dissertation 800), the member can continue, if willing, to serve on the committee as is for up to one year from the time of their departure from the university. If the student needs more than one year to graduate, the Graduate chair should request for the departed committee member to serve as an ad-hoc member (if the program majority requirement is met without them) or nominate the individual for an Affiliate Graduate
Faculty (AGF) appointment. If the student is not yet ABT/ABD, the departed faculty member would need to be requested to serve as an ad-hoc member, if willing to continue, nominated for an AGF appointment or replaced.

University Representative (Formerly known as Outside Member)

The University Representative (UR) is an optional member of the thesis committee and a required member of the dissertation committee. The UR fulfills the following functions:

  • The UR serves as a liaison between Graduate Division and the student’s committee. S/he is to ensure administration of proper procedures with regard to the comprehensive exam and dissertation, fair treatment of the student throughout this process and that the level of research and integrity are appropriate to the student’s degree objective.
    • The primary responsibility of the UR is ensuring the integrity of the process and appropriate treatment of and participation by the student.

In consultation with his or her committee chair, the student shall identify a faculty member from a different graduate program to serve as the UR. A level 3 cooperating graduate faculty member from another UH campus may not serve as UR. Committee chairs must ensure that the UR is indeed an individual who is at “arm’s length” from themselves and the faculty in the student’s graduate program. Partners and spouses or faculty who may be related or were formerly related, may not serve in roles of chair and UR on the same committee.

Requirements to serve as University Representative:

  • Level 3 member of the graduate faculty on UH Mānoa campus.
  • Experience serving on dissertation committees at UH Mānoa (i.e., completion of service where at least one candidate has graduated).
  • From a different graduate program and at “arm’s length” from the committee chair and faculty in the student’s graduate program.
  • Participation in committee meetings and attendance at the comprehensive exam and dissertation-related presentations (e.g, proposal and defense)
  • Able to clearly communicate issues/concerns to the chair of the committee and work collaboratively to resolve them.
    • If issues and concerns are not resolved with the chair of the committee, the UR should share these issues and concerns with Graduate Division.
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