Faculty Handbook

Doctoral Program Guidance Committee, Composition


Each graduate student admitted to a doctoral program has the responsibility to form a guidance committee with the approval and the assistance of the department or school chairperson or director or designated representative. The guidance committee will consist of at least four Michigan State University regular faculty, at least three of whom, including the committee chairperson, possess an earned doctoral degree, preferably of the same type that the student is seeking (for example, Ph.D.). 2  An exception may be granted by the Dean of The Graduate School to allow a non-tenure stream faculty member or an academic specialist to serve on a doctoral student's guidance committee as one of the four required faculty members or as the chairperson of a doctoral student's guidance committee. With the approval of the chairperson or director of the department or school, an exception may be granted to allow an Emeritus faculty member to serve as one of the four required faculty members on a doctoral student's guidance committee; in addition, an Emeritus faculty member may continue to serve as the chairperson of a guidance committee. More than four persons may be members of the guidance committee. Persons who are not MSU regular faculty who can contribute to the student's program may serve as members of the guidance committee and assist in the work of the committee, providing that the number of such persons does not exceed the number of regular faculty on the committee. In consultation with the student, the guidance committee plans the entire program, including examinations, and thereafter supervises it, making modifications as needed until the degree is completed.

The guidance committee shall be formed within the first two semesters of doctoral study, or within two semesters beyond the master's degree or its equivalent. Within one semester after the committee has met, the chairperson of the guidance committee shall file a guidance committee report with the dean of the college, listing all degree requirements. A copy of this guidance committee report shall also be given to the graduate student. This guidance committee report, as changed or amended in full consultation between the graduate student and the committee and approved by the appropriate department or school chairperson or director and the dean of the college, shall be regarded as the statement of program requirements. The program will not be considered binding unless signed by the student.

The guidance committee report includes a statement of the student's proposed program, with a timetable and tentative dissertation topic. In the report, the committee also recommends whether to accept any graduate credit beyond the master's degree level that was taken at other institutions; whether any study may be done in absentia, and under what conditions; what language examinations or alternative program, if any, the student must complete; and which member of the committee should later direct the research that is to form the basis of the student's dissertation.

Once designated, the guidance committee has the responsibility to meet periodically to oversee the graduate student's progress for as long as the graduate student continues in good standing. Any desired or required changes in the membership of the guidance committee may be made by the graduate student with the concurrence of the unit chairperson or director or designated representative, or by the unit with the concurrence of the graduate student in accordance with University, college, and unit policy. The membership of the guidance committee, with the concurrence of the graduate student, may be changed as appropriate to the dissertation topic. Guidance committee chairpersons on leave shall provide for the necessary guidance of their advisees during their absence.

The guidance committee is responsible for insuring the adequacy of the overall program, in keeping with the general policy that three or more academic years of study and research beyond the bachelor's degree are required.


The "regular faculty" of Michigan State University shall consist of all persons appointed under the rules of tenure and holding the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor, and persons appointed as librarians. In addition, the principal administrative officer of each major educational and research unit of the University shall be a member of the "regular faculty."

For the DMA degree, the guidance committee will consist of at least four regular MSU faculty, at least two of whom, including the committee chairperson, possess the DMA degree.

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