The Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee is composed of the Thesis Advisory Committee with the addition of an external committee member. Once constituted as such, the committee is considered the Dissertation Committee. The external committee member must: 1) hold a PhD, MD, or other appropriate advanced degree from an accredited institution; 2) have sufficient research experience and qualifications in the area of the student’s thesis to ensure an appropriate level of rigor for the examination; 3) be a member of a PhD granting institution and 4) not be a faculty member of ISMMS. Like the committee chair, this member must be someone that does/has not directly collaborated on the project of the student, has no coauthored papers or abstracts with the student, has no financial conflicts of interest with the student or project, and has not supervised any aspect of the work. The external committee member is a voting member of the committee. Prior to naming an external member to the committee, the student and mentor should write a brief summary of why the proposed external examiner is qualified for the role and state that they have no conflicts of interest. This document requires approval by the committee chair. Participation of non-voting members of the advisory committee in the Thesis Dissertation exam is optional; if they are present, they must remain silent.

When the student has completed the written dissertation document, it must be read and approved by the Dissertation Committee. The student should submit the Dissertation to each member of the Committee as early as possible, but no later than two weeks before the Defense. Committee members may reschedule the Examination if not given the appropriate amount of time to prepare for it. The Committee shall meet with the student for an oral Defense of the Dissertation. Before the final scheduling of the Defense, it is wise to obtain the Committee’s approval that the work is complete and appropriately presented. The student must register for the defense with the Registrar using the Dissertation Defense and Seminar Registration form. Once the defense has been registered, the Registrar will provide the Dissertation Defense Voting form. The student must include a Statement of Authorship page with the written document.

Revisions and additional experimental work might be requested by the Dissertation Committee. In either event, the Committee will decide and indicate in writing whether the whole Committee needs to be reconvened to consider the new draft or whether a subcommittee (or just the chair of the Committee) may approve the revised draft.

The mentor may apply to the Graduate School for reimbursement (up to $450) to defray travel expenses for the “outside” examiner. A letter of request, from the dissertation advisor, for the honorarium should be submitted to the Graduate School Office. The letter should include the name of the examiner, his/her/their social security number and mailing address. If the funds are being used to defray the cost of travel, original receipts should be sent with the letter of request. We will prepare and submit the check request. Unless otherwise instructed, the check will be sent directly to the examiner. If the dissertation advisor/department is covering a portion of the travel expenses, the letter of request should be sent with a check request (and original receipts), prepared by the dissertation advisor/department, indicating the amount and fund number (with appropriate signature) for the portion covered by the dissertation advisor/department. The Graduate School will complete the request and forward it to Accounts Payable. Unless otherwise instructed, the check will be sent directly to the examiner.

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