Dissertation advisory committee and prospectus

Dissertation advisory committee

  • The committee consists minimally of four members. If there are co-chairs, the committee consists of five members.
  • At least two committee members must be from the student's home department/program.
  • The committee chair must hold a graduate faculty appointment in the home unit. If there are co-chairs, at least the one from the home unit holds a graduate faculty appointment.
  • At least one member, in addition to the chair, must hold a graduate faculty appointment. (For additional information see Graduate Faculty appointment criteria.)
  • The committee also must have an external member who broadens the dissertation committee beyond the home program to represent a different perspective by virtue of their field, location or knowledge application. The external member cannot hold any salaried or contractual appointment, tenure line or retreat rights in the home unit. And the external member must be familiar with the standards for doctoral research. The member may be from within or outside Wayne State.

The dissertation director and advisory committee should be identified as early as possible and by the time coursework is completed at the latest. The dissertation advisory committee membership must be submitted to the Graduate School as a condition for attaining candidacy. After Graduate School approval of the dissertation prospectus, any changes in committee membership must be documented on a Change in Committee form and turned into the Graduate School for approval. 

Conflict of interest

All doctoral candidates will be required to submit a Conflict of Interest form in concurrence with the Prospectus and Record of Approval Form. The candidate and each member of the dissertation committee must disclose any potential conflicts and sign the form. Given the length of time required in the dissertation process, students will be required to resubmit the Conflict of Interest form prior to the dissertation defense.

Dissertation prospectus and approval

Prior to initiating doctoral research, the Ph.D. student must prepare a prospectus of the proposed dissertation research describing the scope of the problem, the materials or subjects used, method and design of the study, and projected results. If human or animal subjects will be used, please view the Guidelines for research

Review the Wayne State University guidelines for data access, retention and ownership.

When the prospectus is ready for presentation to the advisory committee, the student should complete the Prospectus and Record of Approval form and submit it to the departmental graduate director for verification of graduate faculty appointments.

Prospectus meeting as oral examination

In some departments, the advisory committee members review the prospectus and sign the form, indicating approval of the prospectus. In others, a prospectus meeting is held, and it serves as the oral examination. In such cases, the student should arrange a prospectus presentation meeting with his/her advisor and committee members. Prior to the meeting, the student should complete the Prospectus and Record of Approval form and submit it to the departmental graduate director for verification of graduate faculty appointments. At the meeting, the student orally presents the prospectus to their advisor and committee for discussion and questions. At the conclusion of the meeting, if the advisor and committee approve the prospectus and presentation, they should sign the Prospectus form. Their signatures indicate that the student's prospectus is acceptable and that the student has fulfilled the oral examination requirement. The student should submit the form and the prospectus to the Graduate School.