The supervisory committee is a small group of graduate faculty assigned to advise, monitor and review the research of a student. This committee is chaired by the supervisory professor, ordinarily the faculty member in whose laboratory the student will perform his/her research.
The supervisory committee and particularly the supervisory professor have the responsibility for directing the student's research, ensuring its quality and timely completion, and for supervising the writing of the dissertation or thesis.
Customarily, a student will spend the first year after matriculation becoming acquainted with the faculty of his/her program through course work, laboratory rotations, private interviews, counseling with the program director, etc., and will select a faculty mentor with whom he/she wishes to do the research leading to the doctoral or masters degree. This selection should take place before the qualifying exam. This faculty person effectively becomes the unofficial supervisory professor. As the time approaches for applying to candidacy, the student, the faculty mentor and the program director will develop a suggested membership list for the full supervisory committee.
The application form for admission to candidacy includes a place to list the proposed members of this committee. When the student applies for candidacy, (s)he is responsible for contacting the proposed committee members and obtaining their agreement to serve on the supervisory committee. The final composition of the committee must be approved by the Program Director and the Senior Associate Dean.
For doctoral students the supervisory committee will be composed of at least five members or special members of the graduate faculty, one of whom will be from another institution and one of whom is from a different area than that of the student. The supervisory professor and the supervisory committee shall ensure that the student satisfies all the requirements for the doctoral degree. The on-campus members of the supervisory committee shall meet with the student at least two times per year before the defense of the dissertation. However, the student should take advantage of every opportunity to consult with all members of the supervisory committee.
MD/PhD students shall have a supervisory committee like that for regular PhD students, but in addition, one member of the supervisory committee shall be an MD-degreed faculty person having a primary appointment in a clinical department of the UTMB medical school. This person may be one of the five original supervisory committee members or may be added as a sixth committee member.
MA, MS, MPH
The supervisory committee for MA, MS, and MPH students is composed of at least three regular or special members of the graduate faculty, two of which are from the student's program (one being the supervisory professor) and one of which has a primary focus different from the student's.
For MMS students the supervisory committee is composed of three members, one of whom is the supervisory professor. At least one member of the committee must be from a basic science department and one shall be from clinical department. No more than two members shall be from the department of the student. The supervisory committee for MMS students will meet with the student at least once approximately half-way through the training period and provide a brief written statement to the program steering committee as soon as possible after this meeting describing the progress of the student.
Schedule of Deadlines for Final Copies and Defense of Dissertation
The basic time frame for completing the thesis/dissertation and scheduling the final oral examination applies to all doctoral candidates and to masters degree candidates who will take a final oral examination. Other masters degree candidates should consult sections IV and V of the document for appropriate schedule.
The way to "start" is by finding out from the published GSBS academic calendar what the deadline is for submitting the final approved copies of the thesis/dissertation. Plan everything backward from this date. Schedule the defense of the thesis/dissertation at least two weeks before this deadline. Most students need more than two weeks after the defense to make revisions, duplicate and submit the formal, completed copies. The graduate school requires a two week period to publicize the defense after you submit the "Request for Final Oral Examination" form. Before the supervisory committee signs this form, they must have had adequate time to review the dissertation and determine that the student is prepared to defend it at the final oral examination. The student is required to provide a copy of the thesis/dissertation to each member of the committee at least three weeks before the committee signs this form. The copy of the thesis/dissertation presented should be in reasonably final form so the supervisory committee can thoroughly evaluate the work. Commonly, serious revisions are required by the committee after they have read the thesis/dissertation; prepare the draft very well and make sure to allow adequate time to rewrite. A copy of this document in WORD format must be provided to the program director when it is distributed to the committee after the committee has approved the document it must be sent to the student affairs dean for final changes/updates and approval.
Thus, from the deadline date for submission of the final copies of the thesis/dissertation, the student must have a completed version of the document ready at least six weeks earlier. To facilitate the entire procedure, it is most important that the student and the supervisory committee stay mutually informed and up-to-date on the research and writing progress, and that the student check frequently with the graduate school office for input about deadlines and about proper format and style of the thesis/dissertation.