Utah State University Old Main

Supervisory Committee Requirements

When a student is accepted to a master’s degree program, the department head typically appoints a temporary advisor. In most master’s degree programs, a supervisory committee will be established for each student. During the first semester following matriculation, the student should meet with the temporary advisor to discuss the appointment of a supervisory committee. Supervisory Committee members must be part of the graduate faculty or be approved by the vice provost of graduate studies. A completed Supervisory Committee Approval form should be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies by the end of the student’s second semester. Changes to a supervisory committee must be approved by submitting a Supervisory Committee Revision form, and are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.

A master’s degree supervisory committee must include at least three faculty members who are members of the Graduate Faculty. At least one member must represent the student’s area of specialization, and at least one must be from outside the specialization area. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.

Within School of Graduate Studies and departmental requirements, the supervisory committee determines the courses for the student’s Program of Study; conducts departmental qualifying examinations (if required); supervises the student’s thesis research, Plan B paper, or project; and conducts the defense or final examination. The defense or final examination must be scheduled through the School of Graduate Studies. The major professor, who serves as the chairperson of the committee, usually directs the thesis, paper, or other degree project.

A Program of Study form should be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the end of the second semester in the program. Changes to the Program of Study may be made by submitting a Program of Study Revision form to the School of Graduate Studies.

When a doctoral student is admitted, the department head may appoint a temporary advisor to work with the student until a supervisory committee is established. A Supervisory Committee Approval form (SCAF) must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for approval by the end of the student’s third semester in the program. Committee changes must be documented by submitting a SCAF revision form, and are not to be made during the six weeks prior to the final defense.

A doctoral supervisory committee must include at least five faculty members with doctoral degrees who are members of the Graduate Faculty. Three members must be from within and at least one must be from outside the department or interdepartmental degree-granting program in which the student is enrolled.  Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.

The supervisory committee specifies the student’s Program of Study; supervises the student’s qualifying examination (if there is one) and comprehensive examination, unless some other departmental or program procedure is in place; approves the dissertation proposal; supervises the student’s research and preparation of the dissertation; and conducts the final oral examination. The major professor is the chairperson of the committee and usually directs the student’s research. Continuation in a doctoral program is contingent upon the availability of a major professor.

By the end of the third semester, the student should have submitted a Program of Study to the School of Graduate Studies. Amendments to the Program of Study form may be made by submitting to the School of Graduate Studies a completed Program of Study Revision form. Submission of a new Program of Study is not necessary.

The student and all committee members are required to sign a Data and Copyright form and an Authorship form. The forms are available on the School of Graduate Studies website, and must be approved and submitted prior to School of Graduate Studies review of the student’s dissertation and degree completion.

Graduate faculty status is conferred by each department or program based on criteria that are established by tenured, tenure-eligible, and research faculty in the department or program.

Eligibility of graduate faculty to serve on graduate advisory committees: At the start of each fall semester, each department head or program director should send to the academic dean a list of individuals who have been approved to serve on the graduate faculty of the department or program. That list should indicate the roles (e.g., chair or member of doctoral, master’s, or professional degree committees) for which individual has been approved by a vote of the tenured, tenure-eligible, and research faculty in the department or program. Once approved by the academic dean, the list should be sent to the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies for final approval.

Guidelines for Supervisory Committee Appointments for Graduate Degrees

  1. The chair of a graduate supervisory committee must be a member of the graduate faculty in the department or program in which the student is matriculated, and must have been approved by the tenured, tenure-eligible, and research faculty in the department or program to chair supervisory committees for the degree program in which the student is matriculated.
  2. Graduate faculty in a department or program may serve on supervisory committees of students in that department or program if they have been approved for that level of service by the tenured, tenure-eligible, and research faculty in that department or program.
  3. Graduate faculty may be appointed to a graduate supervisory committee for a student in a different department or program with the approval of the head or director of that department or program.
  4. Individuals who are not members of the graduate faculty in a USU department or program may serve on a graduate advisory committee if they are recommended by the student’s department head or program director and approved by the academic dean and Vice Provost of Graduate Studies.
  5. A majority of the members of each supervisory committee must be members of the graduate faculty in the department or program in which the student is matriculated. For professional master’s degree programs in which an individual substitutes for a supervisory committee, that individual must be a member of the graduate faculty in the department or program in which the student is matriculated.
  6. Upon recommendation of the department head, emeritus faculty may serve on supervisory committees, but may not chair new committees.
  7. A faculty member should not be appointed to a supervisory committee if, for any reason, he or she will not be available for committee meetings. All members should be present for the final defense, and the defense should be scheduled accordingly. Technology-assisted participation in the defense by a faculty member is acceptable, when an absence is unavoidable. The student and the student’s major professor must be present for the defense. No more than one committee member for a master’s defense and no more than two committee members for a doctoral defense may participate from a remote location.

Guidelines for Forms by Plan Type

  • By the end of the second semester
    • Supervisory Committee submitted and approved. If the committee composition is changed, a revision form must be submitted. The committee composition should not be changed within 6 weeks of a defense.
    • Program of Study submitted and approved.
  • By the end of the third semester
    • Application for Candidacy submitted and approved. All regulatory approvals should be in place before this is submitted.
  • Before the end of the degree program
    • Residency Requirement: at least 50% of the credits used to satisfy degree requirements must be from Utah State University
    • Any coursework on the Program of Study (including transfer credits) taken more than 8 years prior to the defense must be revalidated. Revalidation of coursework requires that the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies approve a revalidation plan submitted by the Major Professor.
  • Preparing for Defense
    • The Appointment for Examination form must be submitted to the SGS at least 10 business days before the final examination.
    • The student must be registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
      • If all credit requirements on an approved Program of Study are met, the student may qualify to register for 1 credit in the semester of defense. Registering for 1 credit will not qualify the student for full-time (i.e. they will not qualify for an assistantship).
      • International students should check in with the Office of Global Engagement when making decisions on the number of credits needed.
  • After the Defense
    • Let the student know the outcome of the defense as it concludes.
    • The major professor should let the GPC know the outcome of the defense, and the GPC will submit the Record of Exam through ServiceNow. Once it has been submitted, the committee will approve it (this is in the place of signing the previous paper form).
    • Students are not done at this point! They must meet all degree requirements, including final approval of their dissertation.
  • Dissertation Review Process
    • The student should submit the Format & Style form and the Authorship & Copyright form as soon as the information is available.
    • Once the student’s committee and departmental reviewer (if applicable) have approved all revisions to the dissertation, the GPC should upload it to the student’s Dissertation Review folder in Box and email the SGS dissertation reviewer.
    • The SGS dissertation reviewer will add the dissertation to the queue, and it will be reviewed in the order in which it is received (please note: all required forms must be fully approved before the dissertation is added to the queue).
    • Once the dissertation has been reviewed and approved by the SGS dissertation reviewer, it will be automatically submitted to the Merrill Cazier Library for electronic publication.
  • By the end of the second semester
    • Supervisory Committee submitted and approved. If the committee composition is changed, a revision form must be submitted. The committee composition should not be changed within 6 weeks of a defense.
    • Program of Study submitted and approved.
  • By the end of the third semester
    • Thesis/Project Approval submitted and approved. All regulatory approvals should be in place before this is submitted.
  • Before the end of the degree program
    • Residency Requirement: at least 50% of the credits used to satisfy degree requirements must be from Utah State University
    • Any coursework on the Program of Study (including transfer credits) taken more than 8 years prior to the defense must be revalidated. Revalidation of coursework requires that the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies approve a revalidation plan submitted by the Major Professor.
  • Preparing for Defense
    • The Appointment for Examination form must be submitted to the SGS at least 10 business days before the final examination.
    • The student must be registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
      • If all credit requirements on an approved Program of Study are met, the student may qualify to register for 1 credit in the semester of defense. Registering for 1 credit will not qualify the student for full-time (i.e. they will not qualify for an assistantship).
      • International students should check in with the Office of Global Engagement when making decisions on the number of credits needed.
  • After the Defense
    • Let the student know the outcome of the defense as it concludes.
    • The major professor should let the GPC know the outcome of the defense, and the GPC will submit the Record of Exam through ServiceNow. Once it has been submitted, the committee will approve it (this is in the place of signing the previous paper form).
    • Students are not done at this point! They must meet all degree requirements, including final approval of their thesis.
  • Thesis Review Process
    • The student should submit the Format & Style form and the Authorship & Copyright form as soon as the information is available.
    • Once the student’s committee and departmental reviewer (if applicable) have approved all revisions to the thesis, the GPC should upload it to the student’s Thesis Review folder in Box and email the SGS thesis reviewer.
    • The SGS thesis reviewer will add the thesis to the queue, and it will be reviewed in the order in which it is received (please note: all required forms must be fully approved before the thesis is added to the queue).
    • Once the thesis has been reviewed and approved by the SGS thesis reviewer, it will be automatically submitted to the Merrill Cazier Library for electronic publication.
  • By the end of the second semester
    • Supervisory Committee submitted and approved. If the committee composition is changed, a revision form must be submitted. The committee composition should not be changed within 6 weeks of a defense.
    • Program of Study submitted and approved.
  • By the end of the third semester
    • Thesis/Project Approval submitted and approved. All regulatory approvals should be in place before this is submitted.
  • Preparing for Defense
    • The Appointment for Examination form must be submitted to the SGS at least 10 business days before the final examination.
    • The student must be registered for at least three credit hours the semester of defense.
      • If all credit requirements on an approved Program of Study are met, the student may qualify to register for 1 credit in the semester of defense. Registering for 1 credit will not qualify the student for full-time (i.e. they will not qualify for an assistantship).
      • International students should check in with the Office of Global Engagement when making decisions on the number of credits needed.
  • After the Defense
    • Let the student know the outcome of the defense as it concludes.
    • The major professor should let the GPC know the outcome of the defense, and the GPC will submit the Record of Exam through ServiceNow. Once it has been submitted, the committee will approve it (this is in the place of signing the previous paper form).
    • Students are not done at this point! They must meet all degree requirements, including final submission of their project.
  • Before the end of the degree program
  • Residency Requirement: at least 50% of the credits used to satisfy degree requirements must be from Utah State University
  • Any coursework on the Program of Study (including transfer credits) taken more than 8 years prior to the defense must be revalidated. Revalidation of coursework requires that the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies approve a revalidation plan submitted by the Major Professor.
  • Final Steps
    • Plan B Report/Creative Project approved by Supervisory Committee. These are not reviewed by the Graduate School, but must be submitted to the Merril Cazier Library.

Under construction. For now, please refer to the timeline here.

Resources for Mentoring Students

All University research involving human subjects, animal subjects, radiation materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or certain highly toxic chemicals must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate University committee(s) before the research is started. Graduate students are, with the assistance of their advisors, responsible for obtaining the necessary approval for their research. Verification of approval must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the student’s Master’s Thesis/Project Approval Form or doctoral Application for Candidacy will be approved. For further information, contact the School of Graduate Studies or the Office of Research.

  • Research Involving Human Participants

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the campus organization responsible for protecting the rights and welfare of human participants recruited to participate in studies conducted by researchers affiliated with Utah State University. This office administers the review of human subjects research proposals to ensure compliance with federal regulations and ethical principles, so that scientific funding and activities can continue at Utah State University.

Whenever faculty members or students wish to conduct research involving human participants, they must submit their research proposal for review and approval by the IRB before the research is started. Some research is considered exempt from full-board IRB review and can be approved more quickly. Only the IRB can make this determination.

For more information about the IRB application and approval process, visit the IRB web site.

  • Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research, Teaching, or Training

All faculty, staff, students and cooperators conducting research, teaching, or training with vertebrate animals are required to adhere to all federal, state, and institution regulations and policies, including the federal Animal Welfare Act and the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is the campus organization responsible for ensuring compliance with these standards so that scientific funding and activities can continue at Utah State University.

Prior approval by the IACUC is required before faculty members or students begin research involving live vertebrate animals. All use of animals in research, teaching, or training must be overseen by a faculty member who may submit proposals for review by the IACUC. More information about the application and approval process is available from IACUC.

  • Research Involving Radioactive Materials, Recombinant DNA, or Biohazardous Materials

Research involving radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or certain highly toxic chemicals is also subject to state and federal regulations. All faculty, staff, and students who wish to conduct research with radioactive materials, recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials, or highly toxic chemicals must submit their research proposal to the Institutional Biosafety Committee for review and approval before the research can be started. For more information about the application and approval processes for these types of research projects, contact the USU Environmental Health and Safety Office.

  • Responsible Conduct of Research

All doctoral (PhD, AUD, EdD) students are required to complete the Utah State University Responsible Conduct of Research course that is offered on the CITI website. This course is also required for students who are supported by funding for some federal agencies (NSF, USDA-NIFA). Students who are supported by funding from NIH are required to complete USU 6900.

All Utah State University students are expected to adhere to the requirements of the Graduate Catalog.

All Utah State University Students are required to adhere to the Student Code.

Final Defense and Degree Completion Information

  • Any final defense held without following the proper procedures is invalid
  • All defenses are public
  • Once an Appointment for Exam has been approved by the committee and Graduate School, any changes to the date, time, and/or location require the submission and approval of a new Appointment for Exam.
  • If it is not possible to schedule a time when the student and all committee members can be physically present for the final defense, it is allowed for up to 1 member of a Master’s committee or up to 2 members of a Doctoral committee to participate remotely.
    • Please note: the student and all committee members must be participating at the time of the defense.
  • The student should be informed of the defense results at the conclusion of the defense
  • As soon as possible after the defense (preferably within a day), the Major Professor should communicate the results of the defense to the GPC. The GPC will then submit the Record of Examination in ServiceNow, which will be sent to the committee for verification of the defense results.
  • If the defense is not successful, the student will need to schedule a redefense and will need to be registered for the semester of redefense.
  • If there are any questions about the requirements for defense, please contact your GPC.
  • A student is not finished with their degree after the defense. They must meet all of the degree requirements first, including the final approval of their Plan B project, thesis, or dissertation!

For information about School of Graduate Studies requirements for a student’s final defense, please refer to the Final Defense page.

The semester of defense or re-defense a Plan B report/project, Plan A thesis, or doctoral dissertation, take final oral examinations (or complete all coursework as a Professional/Plan C student), the student must be registered for at least one graduate level credit. The student will be given until the last day of the next semester (Spring, Summer or Fall) to resolve any incomplete grades, degree requirements and final edits to your report/project, thesis or dissertation. This is known as a Grace Semester.

  • If the student successfully defended in the Spring semester, the Grace Semester is the Summer semester.
  • If the student successfully defended in the Summer semester, the Grace Semester is the Fall semester.
  • If the student successfully defended in the Fall semester, the Grace Semester is the Spring semester.

Student Services (library, Box, VPN, BlueZone, etc.) are deactivated 21 days after your last registered semester. See the Library Access/Student Services During Grace Semester section below for information about retaining services.

Domestic Students

  • Domestic students are not required to register for any courses during the Grace Semester. Keep in mind, Students Services will not be available unless it is paid for. See the Library Access/Student Services During Grace Semester section on the Degree Completion page for information about retaining services.
  • If the student’s degree requirements are not completed by the end of the Grace Semester, they will be charged a $100 late completion fee for each semester, including summer semesters following the Grace Semester. This fee is not assessed until all degree requirements are complete. The student will be notified by the Graduate School when the fee is assessed.

International Students

  • International Students are required to maintain registration to meet visa requirements and should contact the Office of Global Engagement to complete a Reduced Course Load Form to register for USU 7777 during the Grace Semester. There is no registration fee or tuition associated to USU 7777.  International Students will still need to maintain insurance and charged the $125 International Student Fee.
  • If degree requirements are not completed by the end of the Grace Semester, per Graduate Catalog, International Students must register as a full-time student each semester until complete. USU 7777 is only used once. Please contact the Office of Global Engagement to review your options.

For information on School of Graduate Studies thesis/dissertation formatting requirements, please see the thesis/dissertation requirements page. In addition to this page, the School of Graduate Studies holds several thesis/dissertation information sessions each academic year which graduate faculty are welcome to attend.

Please note: The Graduate School will not review any Thesis or Dissertations until the requirements below are met.

Submission Requirements

After the student’s defense, they should also submit all of the following documents to their Graduate Program Coordinator/Department Reviewer.

When the student is completely done editing their thesis/dissertation and the committee has approved it by signing the student’s title page, the student should have their GPC or departmental reviewer submit it for review to the School of Graduate Studies.

The student’s paper cannot be checked into the School of Graduate Studies queue for review until all of the required forms are submitted and approved, their GPC has uploaded the completed thesis/dissertation to their review file, and their GPC has emailed the reviewer indicating that everything is in your file. All papers in the queue are processed in the order in which they are added. Please allow at least three weeks for the initial review of the thesis or dissertation once it has been added to the queue (time to the initial review will vary based on the number of papers in the queue).

If thestudent formatted chapters in accordance with a particular journal, they should also submit to the School of Graduate Studies a sample(s) of target journal styles in PDF format.

If the student wants their thesis/dissertation embargoed, their must submit an Embargo form, and a signed physical copy of their final approved paper to the library along with a binding fee once it has passed the School of Graduate Studies review.

Once the student’s thesis or dissertation has passed the School of Graduate Studies review, it will be submitted to the Library for publication. No further edits can be made at this point!

You’ll also want to check out final semester information for other deadlines and requirements. Please note that the completion deadline is the date by which the student’s paper needs to have passed the Graduate School review, is signed by the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies, and accepted by the Library for publication.

Once the student’s thesis or dissertation has been finalized by the School of Graduate Studies and the Library, and the School of Graduate Studies will verify that all degree requirements have been met, and will contact the student to let them know if anything on the Completion Checklist is incomplete.

The student has not completed all degree requirements until the Merril-Cazier Library (DigitalCommons) notifies the Graduate School that the report/project, thesis, or dissertation has been processed and approved. Doctoral dissertations and Plan A theses need to pass an official review by the School of Graduate Studies and receive the Vice Provost’s approval/signature, in addition to clearing the library’s final checks.

Degree Awarded:

  • Successfully defended report/project, thesis, dissertation
  • Approved Program of Study courses/credits match USU transcript courses/credits
  • Correct credit amounts and letter grades (no “incompletes”) are posted to ALL courses on your USU transcript
  • Email notification received from DigitalCommons confirming report/project, thesis, dissertation has cleared library checks
    • Vice Provost reviews and signs thesis/dissertation (Doctoral, Plan A only)
  • Apply for Graduation completed (we strongly recommend that students complete this after they successfully defend)
  • Commencement Information Survey completed (link is provided when Record of Examination is received by Graduate School)
  • $15 Graduation Fee assessed to student account.

The student has not completed all degree requirements until their department’s Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) notifies the Graduate School they are on track to earning your degree and submits final confirmation that the student has met all degree requirements.

Degree Awarded:

  • The student should notify the department’s GPC of their intent to graduate
  • GPC submits the student’s information to the Graduate School
  • The student’s approved Program of Study courses/credits match your USU transcript courses/credits
  • Correct credit amounts and letter grades (no “incompletes”) are posted to ALL courses on the student’s USU transcript
  • Apply for Graduation completed (we strongly recommend that students complete this when the Graduate School instructs them to do so)
  • Commencement Information Survey completed (link is provided towards the end of semester by Graduate School)
  • GPC submits the student’s Letter of Completion to Graduate School
  • $15 Graduation Fee assessed to your student account.