New Students: Forming a Graduate Committee

Please be aware that most of the information on this page is relevant to students enrolled in all graduate programs (M.S, M.P.S, and PhD). However, details specific to a particular program will be noted.

What is a Graduate Committee?


The graduate committee typically consists of 3-5 members including your major professor. Your major professor will be assigned to you upon admission into the EFB program. The graduate committee must also include at least two other qualified persons. (See Members of a Graduate Committee)

NOTE: Students enrolled in an M.P.S Program are only required to have two members on their steering committee. Their major professor and one other individual.

Major duties of the graduate committee, or steering committee, include review of your proposed coursework, research proposal, and thesis or dissertation. However, as a graduate student you are ultimately responsible for your progress. You should meet with your steering committee at least once a year, but frequent informal meetings with your major professor and individual committee members are strongly encouraged.

All students must establish a steering committee by the end of their third semester of graduate study.

Members of a Graduate Committee

In addition to your major professor, you will need at least two other members on your steering committee. You, with the assistance of your major professor, should choose who will be on your steering committee during your first or second semester at ESF. It will be your responsibility to determine which faculty members will be most beneficial to you in the development of your coursework and research. Get to know the other professors in your department and what their interests and specialties are. You may want to include individuals on your committee who share your general research interests or may provide insight into particular areas of your research; e.g. statistical analysis, laboratory procedures, ect. Do not hesitate to meet informally with potential committee members to discuss your research interests and "interview" them to determine whether or not they will be an appropriate committee member. However, keep in mind that faculty members are often very busy and may already be obligated to several other committees and research of their own. It would also be valuable to speak with other graduate students to discuss the positive and negative interactions with potential committee members.

Throughout your time at ESF and while working on your research you may meet other qualified professionals who you would like to include on your steering committee. Great! Committee members do not have to be faculty of ESF. These individuals may include faculty from other institutions or professionals in your area of study. However, as with any potential committee member, it is important that you carefully consider how they will benefit your committee and discuss this candidate with your major professor.

How to Form a Graduate Committee

After 1) speaking with other graduate students, 2) "interviewing" potential committee members, and 3) deliberating with your major professor, you must have your steering committee formally assigned. This is accomplished with form 2A, which has recently been made available online through MyESF. You can find further information on form 2A under the Administration tab of this handbook.

Paper copies of the form are also available at the ESF Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies or you can download the form here: Form 2A: Request for Major Professor/Steering Committee