Q: How is this committee structure different from our past practices?

A: This table highlights the major changes …

 

Old Committee Structure
(pre-July 2023)

New Committee Structure
(post-July 2023)

Minimal Size

6

4

Composition

 

All of the required minimum four members must be tenure track or tenured faculty members employed by Syracuse University

Same

Dissertation Advisor

Dissertation Advisor

Minimum of two committee members

A minimum of two committee members with relevant expertise, typically from within student’s program.

The Oral Defense Chair joins the committee before final oral defense

The Oral Defense Chair joins the committee before final oral defense

New

The Oral Defense Chair must be from outside SOE

The Oral Defense Chair must be from outside the student’s program of enrollment

A minimum of two external readers must be from outside the student’s program

·       No external readers

·       No Dissertation Registry

·       No hard copies required in the Office of the Dean

·       No written feedback 48 hours prior to exam

Request for Exam

Fill out the request at shorturl.at/mrJOX

1.     Fill out the request: shorturl.at/mrJOX

2.     Signed by Advisor and Faculty Director of Graduate Studies

3.     Submit to Degree Certification: degreecert@syr.edu

Voting

Six voting members—the majority voting members must vote favorably in the oral defense examination

Minimum of four voting members—he majority voting members must vote favorably in the oral examination

Summary & Rationale for Changes

This new policy reduces the minimal size of the dissertation defense committee from six to four members, does not require outside readers, does not require students to register their dissertation in the dissertation registry, and does not require hard copies of their dissertation to be submitted to the Dean’s office. All of the required minimum of four committee members must be tenured or tenure-track faculty members at Syracuse University.

The new policy ensures that students are guided and evaluated by a group of scholars knowledgeable in their field of inquiry. It should also reduce the time required to set up the oral defense. All four committee members comprise the voting members of the Oral Exam Committee.

The policy does allow additional committee members (beyond the four-person minimum) at the discretion of your dissertation advisor. The graduate school policy is found under Section 32 of the academic rules. In this section you also will find a more detailed description of the oral defense chair’s roles and responsibilities, the changes in composition size, eligibility, and roles.

Q: What is the role of the Oral Defense Chair?

A: The oral exam chair must be a Syracuse University tenured or tenure track faculty member from outside of the student’s program of enrollment. The chair will preside over the exam and ensure that the regulations and declared policies of the Graduate School and academic unit are followed.

Q: Who can serve on the four-person committee?

A: The Graduate School requires that all four committee members of the required minimum of four must be tenured or tenure track faculty members employed by Syracuse University.

Q: Will any petitions be considered?

A: Petitions to include one non-tenure track faculty member to be part of the minimum four-person committee will be considered, but should be proposed only in rare circumstances when there are no relevant tenured or tenure track faculty available to serve. The petition can only be for Syracuse University non-tenure track faculty who are integral to the research training of the student’s doctoral program. The petitions should include a strong rationale, the names of the other committee members and their role, and the non-tenure track SU faculty member’s CV. The petitions must be reviewed and approved by the Graduate School. Note that no petition is needed if an additional non-tenure track faculty member or person with a Ph.D. and relevant expertise outside of Syracuse University is added as an additional committee member beyond the required minimum of four.

Q: What should students do who are past the dissertation proposal phase and currently have a committee of three members, not four?

A: The answer varies depending on the specific composition of the current committee. Below are a few scenarios:

  • If all three members are tenured or tenure track SU faculty members, then the student must identify a fourth member to serve as Oral Defense Chair. This member must be tenured or tenure track SU faculty outside of the student’s program.
  • If the three-person committee includes one individual who is a non-tenure track faculty member at SU, then a petition to include the non-tenure track faculty member to be part of the minimum four-person committee must be submitted to the Graduate School.

Petitions should be proposed only in rare circumstances when there are no relevant tenured or tenure track faculty available to serve. The petition can only be for Syracuse University non-tenure track faculty who are integral to the research training of the student’s doctoral program. The petitions should include a strong rationale, the names of the other committee members and their role, and the non-tenure track SU faculty member’s CV. The petitions must be reviewed and approved by the Graduate School.

  • If the three-person committee includes one member who is external to SU, then the student must identify a third committee member who is a tenured or tenure track SU faculty member, and a fourth member to serve as Oral Defense Chair. The Oral Defense Chair must be tenured or tenure track SU faculty outside of your program. The member who is external to SU can serve as a fifth member of the committee.

Q: Can you ever have a committee larger than four members?

A: If additional committee members—beyond the required four members—are desired by the student or dissertation advisor to add critical expertise that the other members cannot, these members can include: SU non-tenure track faculty members with a Ph.D., Ed.D., or comparable doctoral degree (e.g., teaching assistant professor) and/or an individual who is external to SU with appropriate subject matter expertise. Note that no petition is needed if an additional non tenure track faculty member or person with a Ph.D. and relevant expertise outside of Syracuse University is added as an additional committee member beyond the required minimum of four.

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