Select a Graduate Advisory Committee Chair
The chair or major professor of the committee is an advocate for the student and must have expertise and interest in the student’s area of study. The chair advises, supervises, nurtures, protects, and mentors the student. The chair is leader of the advisory committee and manages the process so that university and graduate school guidelines are adhered to, which facilitates successful proposal and defense.
1. Student suggests a major professor in conjunction with the appropriate graduate program coordinator.
2. The Major Professor Recommendation Form is to be completed by the student’s graduate program coordinator and will be submitted to the Graduate School for approval. This form serves as the basis for appointing a student’s major professor for the duration of the student’s program of study. For students requesting a change in major professor, the recommendation form should be resubmitted through the above channels requesting the change.
3. The Degree Plan is to be submitted to the Graduate School by the student’s major professor before the student begins their graduate coursework. The Change of Degree Plan is to be submitted by a student’s major professor when substitutions or corrections are made to the courses currently listed on the official degree plan.
4. If a change in catalog is necessary, the major professor and student should complete a Request for Change of Catalog and submit the form to the Graduate School for approval.
5. If for any reason a student needs to make a request to register in absentia for a given term, a Request for Registration in Absentia must be submitted to the Graduate School for approval.
6. Occasionally courses listed in the student’s official degree plan will exceed the six-year time limit for coursework towards a graduate degree. If this is the case, a Recommendation for Time Extension to Complete Degree Requirements must be submitted through the Graduate Council for consideration. Please see the Graduate Council webpage for more information about the appeal process.
Graduate Advisory Committee Membership
The advisory committee consists primarily of graduate faculty in the student’s discipline. The committee’s composition is further outlined in the student’s college and degree program policy manual. The advisory committee works with the chair of the committee to determine whether the student’s proposed study is appropriate. The advisory committee members have distinct expertise in content, mechanics, and methodology of the proposed study and guide the student’s progress. The advisory committee facilitates the process and makes certain all university and graduate school policies are followed. The advisory committee reviews student documents as they relate to the proposal or dissertation, and with the leadership of the chair, determines when the document will be approved to move forward. It is expected that the student’s academic college administration is aware and monitors procedures to the benefit of the student and will remain in compliance with Graduate School policy.
1. Advisory committee composition is determined by the student’s program and is further outlined in the student’s college and degree program policy manual.
2. The Graduate Advisory Committee Request Form is to be completed by the student’s major professor and submitted to the Graduate School for approval. If a minor area is included in the student’s program of study, at least one approved member from the graduate faculty of that area should be included on the committee. Changes to the advisory committee must be recommended by the student’s major professor to the Director of the Graduate School.
Vacancies and Replacements
If any committee member anticipates an extended but temporary absence during the time the student is working on the thesis or dissertation, that member should arrange for means of communicating during this leave or designate an appropriate temporary (or permanent) substitute.
The determination to make a change in committee chair or membership must be submitted by memo from the School Director to the Director of the Graduate School. Faculty members who are replaced must be so informed by the School Director.
If the chair is absent unexpectedly due to a planned sabbatical or retirement at the time the student completes the thesis or dissertation, the School Director may act for the chair but must remain in consultation with the absent chair and other committee members.
It is expected that the student’s academic college administration will monitor procedures and will remain in compliance with Graduate School policy.
In the event that a dispute or disagreement arises between a student and a member of the committee, or internally between members of the committee, the committee chair shall call a meeting of the committee with the student for the purpose of resolving the problem.
If the dispute cannot be resolved through this process, or if the proposed solution is unacceptable to the student or one of the committee members, the disagreeing party, school director, or graduate program coordinator may request that the graduate committee of the student’s department or program review the problem and recommend a solution.
If the problem cannot be resolved at the departmental level, the dispute should be appealed to the college or academic school dean. This will be the final level of appeal.
External (non ULM employee) committee members may serve on doctoral committees once recommended by the program and approved by the Graduate Council. Recommending programs must follow the same vetting procedures currently in place for ULM faculty members recommended for Graduate Faculty status. Approved external doctoral committee members may not serve as chairs, but serve as members of the committee only.
Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation
The field study, thesis, or dissertation topic must be selected by the student in consultation with the major professor and must be approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee prior to the beginning of the research process by the student. A student who has satisfied all academic course-related requirements with the exception of the field study, thesis, or dissertation must register for at least one to three semester hours of 5099 or 6099 during any semester/term in which an Application for Graduate Degree has been completed. Additionally, candidates who are participating in a directed study, clinical placement, internship, thesis, or dissertation activities are required to enroll for the appropriate course each semester until graduation.
The subject of the field study, thesis, or dissertation must be connected with the student’s major field. Credit on a student’s degree plan for the field study and thesis may not exceed six semester hours. The field study, thesis, or dissertation should be approved by the graduate advisory committee before credit can be given. A proposal of the thesis/dissertation must be conducted, and written notification of the successful proposal defense sent to the Director of the Graduate School for the student’s records.
Upon a successful defense, the student must submit one pre-approval copy of the field study, thesis, or dissertation to the Graduate School no later than the deadline stated in the University Calendar. A pre-approval copy is the completed work of the student which has been formally reviewed and approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee. The pre-approval copy must include signatures of the graduate advisory committee. The pre-approval copy must be on 8.5 x 11 inch copy paper and of appropriate print quality.
When the pre-approval copy is submitted, an initial review is done by the Graduate School. A manuscript reviewer will then complete an evaluation of the manuscript and the marked pre-approval copy will be returned to the student. At this time, the student will be given a deadline for making all changes and submitting the complete corrected original document, along with the required number of final approval copies accompanied by the appropriate number of original faculty signature title pages, to the Graduate School. These documents are to be formatted as described in the document Guidelines for the Preparation of Field Studies, Theses and Dissertations, which is available on the Graduate School webpage. A review of the final approval copies will then be made.
The guidelines issued by the Graduate School must be followed in writing a field study, thesis, or dissertation.
After the initial defense is made, the committee shall discuss the defense and converse in closed session with the candidate for further discussion. An oral defense of the final thesis/dissertation must be conducted and announced through the Graduate School.
Thesis and dissertation defenses are to be held in an open forum. After the presentation, the student and the committee members will go into a closed hearing to confirm or decline the study approach. After the student has successfully defended their thesis or dissertation, the major professor must submit a memo on department letterhead indicating the successful defense. Documents should be in near publishable format at that point. It is suggested that the student work closely with the graduate committee and Graduate School.
Thesis Submission Guidelines
Year 1: Departmental Responsibilities
Preliminary thesis proposal and presentation deadline:
- Students must have their thesis topic in the form of a written proposal, annotated bibliography, and list of primary and secondary documents approved and signed by their major professor, graduate coordinator, and the department head by the 10th week of their second semester (or one year prior to intended graduation). For students who started in the fall, this will be the spring semester of the first year. This proposal will be placed in the student’s departmental file.
- Student must present to the committee an oral presentation of the proposal (departments are at liberty to have this presentation in an open or closed departmental format).
- Faculty major professor and thesis committee guide for the student in the thesis process. The major professor must assure proper procedures and style are followed by the student. Committee members are directed by the major professor and must ensure student compliance with best practices in writing style and content for their field of study.
Year 2: Departmental, Committee, and Student Responsibilities
Students must have their final formal thesis proposal approved and signed by the Graduate School by the end of the 10th week of the semester they are enrolled in thesis hours.
- Students must have a completed version submitted to their thesis advisors for revisions in the first week of the semester in which they plan to graduate. This will, ideally, be the student’s fourth semester (spring of the second year). The thesis should be a minimum of 70 pages with a suggested maximum of 125 pages.
- Students must have a revised version approved by their committee by week six (four weeks prior to Graduate School deadline) of the semester in which they intend to graduate. The thesis will then be distributed to the student’s entire committee.
- The thesis will then be resubmitted to the advisor for final approval.
- Oral defense and/or exams will be scheduled accordingly.
- Submission to the Graduate School will be the final task.
- The Graduate School will not provide readers for theses/dissertations. Please consult with your department chair for options in this area.
Major Professor and Thesis Committee Responsibilities
- Major professor and thesis committee members are responsible for revisions and guidance to the student. This ensures proper Graduate School format and writing style designated by the program are followed. The document submitted to the Graduate School will be signed as the final version and will be as close to a publishable format as possible. If not, the Graduate School will return the final version to the major professor and student for rewriting.
- If document is not acceptable by the Graduate School, the student’s graduation may be delayed additional semester(s) until the document is presented in a publishable format.
- The Graduate School will not provide readers for thesis/dissertations. Please consult with your department chair on options in this area.
The guidelines in this outline represent the latest possible for on-time graduation. Please keep in mind that the Graduate School requires a certain timetable for thesis completion. Earlier submissions will be accepted at the discretion of the student’s advisor.