Graduate Student Resources

Doctoral Supervisory Committee

All doctoral students are required to choose a Major Professor and form a Supervisory Committee consisting of COEDU faculty members who share their primary research interests. The Doctoral Supervisory Committee assists students with their dissertation research and will conduct each step of the dissertation defense process. Doctoral students must complete the Advanced Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Form, which names their (Co-) Major Professor(s) and committee members. All doctoral committees are comprised of at least four (4) members: a minimum of three supporting committee members in addition to the student's Major Professor, or two Co-Major Professors with two additional members. Doctoral students must have a Major Professor and Supervisory Committee to be cleared for all doctoral program milestones, such as completing the Qualifying Exam, applying to Doctoral Candidacy, and beginning their dissertation research.

Committee members must be formally credentialed as Associate or Full Members of the College of Education's graduate faculty. In special cases, faculty outside of the College with special expertise in the student's area of research and whose academic record meets the criteria for credentialing may serve on a doctoral committee. If you wish to add a faculty member to your committee who is not on the Credentialed Faculty List, please contact your Major Professor and Department Chair for the required Special Credentialing forms and procedures.

Major Professor

During the first year of their program, doctoral students will need to meet with their Graduate Program Coordinator or other program advisors to select a Major Professor. The Major Professor will lead the student's supervisory committee and serve as the student's direct advisor and mentor throughout the entire dissertation process. The Major Professor must be a fully credentialed faculty member of the College of Education who has knowledge and interest in the area of study chosen by the student. Doctoral students must identify a Major Professor from their academic area and receive their formal agreement to serve on the supervisory committee. The Major Professor should be selected as early as possible, preferably by the end of the student's first year in their program. 

If students cannot easily choose a Major Professor, or in the event a Major Professor is unable or unwilling to continue serving on their committee, the student is responsible for finding another professor from their program or department. Students who are unable to find a replacement Major Professor should confer with the Graduate Director for available options.

Major Professors must meet the following requirements:

  • Be graduate faculty*, as defined by the University, from the student's home academic area
  • Be engaged in current and sustained scholarly, creative, or research activities and have met departmental requirements
  • Be active in scholarly pursuits as evidenced by at least one refereed publication in the last three years 
  • Have been approved by the student's Department Chair (or equivalent) to serve as a Major Professor or Co-Major Professor.

*Affiliate Members of Graduate Faculty (special credentialed instructors) may serve as a Co-Major Professor with another fully credentialed Graduate Faculty member from the student’s program/department. Co-Major Professors may be two graduate faculty or one graduate faculty and one approved Affiliate Member of Graduate Faculty.

Some of the primary responsibilities of the Major Professor include:

  • Reviewing and approving the Supervisory Committee Appointment Form with the student and submitting the form to the Graduate Support Office for final College approval
  • Convening and chairing the doctoral committee meetings and conducting committee affairs consistent with COEDU and University policies
  • Supervising the design and evaluation of the Doctoral Qualifying Examination
  • Approving and submitting the student's Admission to Doctoral Candidacy application along with any supporting materials (Verification of Qualifying Exam Results, approved Committee Appointment form, etc.)
  • Specifying the style manual and formatting requirements to be used for the dissertation manuscript (COEDU typically uses APA formatting)
  • Conducting the student’s proposal and final dissertation defense sessions and signing the Successful Defense Form to confirm that the student successfully defended their dissertation research
  • Reading the final copy of the dissertation for content and format prior to signing the Certificate of Approval form
  • Signing the Certificate of Approval form to verify that the student’s dissertation is ready to be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for final review and publication. 

Committee Members

Doctoral committees must consist of at least four members. In all doctoral committees, at least two (2) committee members including the Major Professor must be fully credentialed by the College of Education. At least three (3) of the committee members should come from the student's major or general academic area. A faculty member from one of the COEDU foundational areas (Psychological & Social Foundations, Educational Measurement & Research, and Curriculum & Instruction) may be counted toward the three-member minimum requirement. The committee must also have one (1) member external to the student’s discipline; the outside member may be chosen from an external USF College, or from the College of Education as long as they are outside of the student’s major. This external committee member may serve as the Outside Chair during the dissertation defense process.

Please see below for a list of USF Credentialed Faculty eligible to serve on doctoral committees. Additionally, you may contact your program and/or department throughout the semester for updates on newly credentialed faculty in your area of study.

Credentialed Graduate Faculty List

  • Note: this list includes faculty across all USF Colleges. College of Education faculty are listed under the "EU" college code. The list of Credentialed Faculty will change throughout the year as new faculty members receive credentialing. Please contact advisors in your program for the most up-to-date list of credentialed COEDU instructors.

Once a student has determined who will serve on their committee, they must complete an Advanced Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Form and submit it to all committee members for original signatures. Credentialed faculty members in the College of Education do not need to include a Curriculum Vitae (CV); only special-credentialed committee members will need to submit a CV along with the committee appointment form. Students must submit the fully signed Supervisory Committee form and any supporting paperwork to the Graduate Support Office for review and approval. All doctoral students must have an approved and current committee form on file to be cleared for the Qualifying Exam and both the proposal and final dissertation defense sessions. Doctoral committee forms need to be processed and approved as early as possible, preferably before the student has completed 50% of their program’s required coursework.

Any changes made to the doctoral committee must be recorded on a Change of Committee Form and submitted to the Graduate Support Office. Changes to the committee include adding or removing members, as well as a member changing their role (e.g., a Major Professor changing to a standard committee member due to a change in research direction). The form must be signed by the (Co-) Major Professor(s), all committee members, and the Department Chair. Any non-faculty being added to a committee must submit a CV for approval. Change of Committee Forms should be submitted for approval as soon as the change takes place, and any changes are official only once approved and filed by the College.

  • Please note that no changes can be made to a doctoral committee within six (6) weeks of the final dissertation defense, except in extenuating circumstances where a committee member can no longer serve.

If you want to learn more about Doctoral Committees and the entire dissertation defense process, please review the Graduate Student Handbooks located on the general Graduate Student Resources page.