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Doctoral Committees

Committee Structure

Initial iSchool Committee: The iSchool will assign each incoming doctoral student a three-member initial committee consisting solely of members of the iSchool’s Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). The committee is chaired by the student's initial committee chair. Students may change any of the committee members at any time, including the committee chair. If a student's research focus changes significantly during coursework then their committee members might also change. With the committee members' help and input, the student may choose new members from among the iSchool faculty.

Dissertation Committee: In applying for candidacy, the student will complete paperwork required by the Graduate School, including naming their final dissertation committee. This committee includes at least three iSchool GSC members and at least one outside committee member, with the option of adding additional committee members (from inside or outside the iSchool) as appropriate. Examples of appropriate outside committee members include:

  • a faculty member in another school/college at The University of Texas at Austin who is not a member of the iSchool’s GSC
  • a faculty member at another university
  • a researcher working in industry or government

Dissertation committees must be approved by the Graduate School, and dissertation committee members can be changed only by application to the Graduate School, so students should carefully consider their choice of members, in consultation with their committee chair. More information on committee composition is available in the Graduate School Catalog.

Annual Review

Each spring, doctoral committees will review the performance of each doctoral student and summarize the student’s progress in a letter reviewed by the GSC. The most important criterion in each annual review is satisfactory progress toward degree completion. The annual review is also intended to help the student plan for the upcoming academic year(s).

The meeting will consist of the following steps:

  1. The student will provide an overview of their progress toward the degree, including coursework, comprehensive qualifying procedure, dissertation topic, other research, teaching, and service.
  2. The committee members will ask questions about the student’s progress.
  3. The student will ask questions of the committee, who will provide feedback.
  4. The student will be asked to leave the room so that the committee can discuss the outcome and next steps from the meeting.
  5. Finally, the committee chair will welcome the student back in the room to learn the preliminary outcome of the review (note, this is not the final outcome; see below).

The letter should be drafted by the committee chair and then circulated to the entire committee for feedback; the final outcome and letter should satisfy all committee members.

The letter should be submitted to the director of doctoral studies prior to the Graduate Studies Committee’s (GSC) doctoral student review meeting. The letter must be shared with the student only after the doctoral student review meeting, to allow for input from the entire GSC prior to determination of the outcome of the review.

Following the conclusion of the doctoral student review meeting, the final letter (including any updates) will be sent by the committee chair to the student, with copies to the director of doctoral studies and the graduate coordinator (who will place a copy of the student’s letter in the student’s official file).

If any student’s progress is deemed unsatisfactory, the committee will recommend means to address their concerns. The committee may also recommend to the GSC that the student’s doctoral study be terminated. If so, the GSC will vote on the recommendation. If the vote supports termination of the student’s program, then the GSC, through the graduate advisor, will make a formal recommendation to the Graduate School to terminate the student’s doctoral study. The student may appeal any such decision.

Fall Review: In addition to the annual review in spring, a smaller number of students may also be reviewed in the fall semester as well. The review process and format largely follow the annual review format, with the intent and effect of serving as an interim, midpoint review between annual reviews when needed. Administrative details regarding which students are reviewed and the notification process are described in a separate document.