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Dissertation Committee & Defense

When the candidate's dissertation proposal has been submitted and accepted, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the candidate, will review the membership of the Supervisory Committee and the choice of advisor or of two coadvisors. The advisor, or at least one of the co-advisors, must be a full-time ISAW faculty member. Until the dissertation is ready to be defended the Supervisory Committee continues to serve. It will meet with the candidate at least once every academic year, normally toward the end of the second semester, and the advisor will provide a written report of the candidate's progress towards completion to the candidate, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the no later than May 15th each year. The candidate may submit a response to this report.

In the case of a permanent ISAW faculty member who retires or accepts a position elsewhere, ISAW considers the departing faculty member to be qualified as a full-time ISAW faculty member for the purpose of dissertation supervision and examination until the faculty member's advisees have completed their dissertations. If a faculty member is not already on a student’s committee, he or she may be added and counted as a full-time ISAW faculty member within five years from the date the faculty member severs ties with ISAW and serve until the dissertation is completed.

The Dissertation Examination Committee must be formed not later than the beginning of the academic term in which the dissertation will be defended. The advisor, in consultation with the core committee, is responsible for selecting the other members of the Dissertation Examination Committee.

The Dissertation Examination Committee must consist of five members, of whom at least two and no more than three must be ISAW full-time faculty. Normally the advisor or coadvisors will be members of the Committee. A full-time ISAW faculty member other than the advisor will be appointed as Committee Chair by the Director of Graduate Studies. From the whole Committee, three must be designated as core members. The core consists of the Committee Chair, the advisor, and one other member.

The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all members of the Dissertation Examination Committee.  Approval is conferred using this form.

All Dissertation Examination Committee members must have a scholarly record that is germane to the dissertation.

On the advice of the Director of Graduate Studies, the ISAW full-time faculty may remove or add Dissertation Examination Committee members for any reason, subject to the preceding regulations for the composition of the Dissertation Examination Committee.

Authorization to Defend: The distribution of a complete draft of the dissertation to all members of the Dissertation Examination Committee must take place a minimum of one month prior to the date of the defense. In addition, the three core members of the Dissertation Examination Committee must provide official authorization in order for the defense to take placeAuthorization of the defense by the three core members of the committee, however, does not constitute final approval of the dissertation itself.

Successful Defense: After the oral defense, each member of the Dissertation Examination Committee shall cast a single vote of "pass," "fail," or "incomplete" on the dissertation and its defense. An abstention will be counted as a vote of "fail."  The vote is recorded on this form.

If all or all but one members of the Dissertation Examination Committee cast a vote of "pass," the dissertation will be considered to have been accepted. The Committee may stipulate specific minor corrections and modifications of the dissertation, in which case a member of the Committee designated by the Director of Graduate Studies must report before deposit and within 90 days after the defense that these corrections and modifications have been made.

If two or more members cast a vote of ‘incomplete’, or one ‘fail’ and at least one ‘incomplete’, a three-person subcommittee will be selected from the Dissertation Examination Committee by the Director of Graduate Studies, or by the ISAW Director if the Director of Graduate Studies is a member of the dissertation committee, to supervise revisions. At least one person must be a full-time ISAW faculty member, and one person must be a committee member who voted ‘incomplete’. The dissertation will be considered accepted if the three-person subcommittee unanimously so recommends; otherwise it will be changed to a final grade of "fail."

If three or more votes of ‘fail’ are cast, the dissertation will be failed. If there are two votes to fail, the entire ISAW full-time faculty will review the dissertation and render a final decision. Specific minor corrections and modifications may be requested before a final verdict is rendered by either the committee or the ISAW faculty.