Committee Composition & Potential Members

A student who has been advanced to the thesis or dissertation stage is responsible for forming a thesis or dissertation committee. Members of the committee must review the student’s research proposal and indicate their approval by signing Form II. The student must keep the committee informed of the scope, plan, and progress of the thesis or dissertation research and manuscript. Note the following policies regarding committee composition:

Committee Size & Potential Members

  • Thesis — three members or more
  • Dissertation — five members or more

Students may conduct an online search to locate potential committee members. The majority of the committee should be faculty from the student’s graduate program. However, exceptions are possible. Emeriti faculty may serve on a committee at the request of the student and the graduate program. Non-graduate faculty may serve on a committee under special circumstances. If choosing a non-graduate faculty to serve on the committee, attach justification and the faculty’s current CV to Form II. Graduate chairs have the privilege of being ex-officio members of all committees in their program.

Committee Chair

The chair is responsible for directing and guiding the student’s research and writing activities. He or she should possess expertise in the student’s chosen research topic. It is the responsibility of the student to select an appropriate topic and to ensure that a faculty member with expertise in the topic is available and willing to serve as chair.

  • Thesis — Chair must be a full or associate faculty member (regular or cooperative) in the student’s graduate program. With approval from the Graduate Division, a full affiliate graduate faculty or an emeritus faculty may serve as chair.
  •  Dissertation — Chair must be a full faculty member (regular or cooperative) in the student’s graduate program. With approval from the Graduate Division, a full affiliate graduate faculty or an emeritus faculty may serve as chair.

It is possible to have co-chairs on a committee. If there are co-chairs, both chairs must attend the final defense and review the manuscript. In order for the student to pass, both co-chairs must indicate their approval on Forms III and IV. On the forms, the word “co-chair” must follow the name of each co-chair. For administrative purposes only, the Graduate Division will treat the first co-chair listed as the chair.

University Representative (Formerly known as Outside Member)

The university representative is an optional member of the thesis committee and a required member of the dissertation committee. He or she should be a full member of the graduate faculty as well as having experience serving as a member on dissertation committees at UHM. Additionally, he or she should possess sufficient familiarity with the student’s research topic to be able to review and comment on the manuscript, but this is not required. The university representative fulfills the following functions:

  1. Represents the Graduate Division on the committee, ensuring administration of proper procedures and fair treatment of the student;
  2. Ensures that the level of research and integrity of the work is indeed appropriate to the student’s degree objective; and
  3. Provides disciplinary expertise and an academic perspective that may or may not be possessed by the other committee members.

In consultation with his or her committee chair, the student shall identify a faculty from a different graduate program to serve as the university representative. In the case of a dissertation committee, the university representative must be a full regular graduate faculty. The committee chair must ascertain that the university representative is indeed an individual who is at “arm’s length” from the faculty in the student’s graduate program.