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Research and Dissertation Advising

Each newly admitted graduate student is assigned an initial faculty adviser based on research interests expressed in the graduate application. The faculty advisor works together with the Director of Graduate Studies to provide initial research and curricular consultation. Within the first quarter of the academic year, all first-year graduate students should familiarize themselves with the research activities of departmental faculty - students are encouraged to contact different faculty members about their research. 

During the first year, students should identify faculty advisors for their (two) qualifier propositions (usually, but not always, the initial faculty advisor remains the lead dissertation mentor). By the end of the first year, the Director of Graduate Studies will appoint a qualifying exam committee consisting of the two qualifier advisors and one additional faculty member from the department. Students meet regularly with their lead advisor, and meetings of the entire committee to review coursework and research activity are scheduled for the Spring and Fall quarters. Based on these meetings, summaries of student progress are filed with the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students are encouraged to make progress in research work as soon as possible and to choose a curriculum that provides needed training for their research.  However, coursework work should also expand one’s knowledge beyond their subdisciplines. Advisory committees will assist in guiding each student’s selection of courses.

If a student decides to change their research specialization during the first year, he or she may switch research advisors by submitting a written request to the graduate advisor; approval for such a change must also be obtained in writing.


Students should formally identify the research topic to the Ph.D. dissertation as soon as practically possible, but no later than 3 months after having passed the Qualifying Examination. By that time the Ph.D. candidate should prepare and give to the Director of Graduate Studies a brief statement identifying the subject matter of the thesis, the name of the lead thesis advisor, and an outline of the research involved. The statement is not binding on the student as far as the field and nature of the upcoming research are concerned, but any substantive changes in topic or any change of thesis advisor(s) must be submitted in writing to the Graduate Advisorr as soon as such changes occur.

At the end of the sixth year since matriculation, each doctoral student must submit to the Graduate School a statement of progress and timetable for completion of the dissertation, signed by the student and endorsed by the dissertation advisor.