Doctoral Committee

A student’s doctoral committee should be appointed by the end of the first year of graduate study or, as soon thereafter as possible. The doctoral committee has the responsibility to advise the student during the progress of doctoral research and has the obligation to require high quality research. In addition, the committee conducts the final oral examination and defense of the doctoral dissertation, and determines whether the dissertation meets acceptable standards. The doctoral committee has the authority to require the student to rewrite any portion, or all, of the dissertation.

Members of the doctoral committee are proposed by the student’s major advisor for the approval of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Academic Affairs Committee and the Senior Associate Dean of Research. The committee must consist of at least three faculty members in the School of Pharmacy (at least two of whom must be members of the student’s focus area), and at least one faculty member external to the School of Pharmacy. The majority of committee members, including the committee Chair, must be members of the graduate faculty. The student’s major advisor usually serves as the Chair of the doctoral committee. When the committee has been selected, the student will complete and submit to the Graduate Program Coordinator, and to the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Academic Affairs Committee “Approval of Doctoral Committee Form.” Copies of this form are available here. When the form has been received and approved, the event will be entered into the student’s permanent graduate academic record as a “Milestone.”

A faculty member who has a secondary appointment in the School of Pharmacy, but whose primary or principal appointment is in another school may serve as the external member of the committee. Under special circumstances and with the approval of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Academic Affairs Committee, he or she may serve as the chair of the committee as long as there are two faculty members from the student’s focus area with primary appointments in the School of Pharmacy on the committee.

A faculty member from another department or school of the University who does not have a secondary or joint appointment in the candidate’s department may serve as co-chair of a doctoral committee, but not as the sole chair.

When a committee member leaves the University, he or she is generally replaced unless the dissertation is almost complete or the member plays an essential role on the committee. In the latter case, the Dean’s approval should be obtained. When the chair of a committee leaves, and cannot be conveniently replaced, a co-chair must be appointed from within the department, and the restructured committee requires approval of the chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Academic Affairs Committee and the Dean. If the defense takes place within a few months of the chair’s departure, the requirement of a co-chair is waived.

A retired faculty member may remain as a member or chair of a committee if he or she is spending considerable time in Pittsburgh or its vicinity and is still professionally active. Retired faculty who meet these criteria may also be appointed as a member or as co-chair (but not chair) of a newly formed committee. Retired faculty who leave the Pittsburgh area and/or do not remain professionally active should be replaced on committees and the revised committee approved by the chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Academic Affairs Committee and the Dean.