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Examinations and Committees

For Master's Students

Details about Master's examinations and completion of theses can be found in the Graduate College Handbook.

Doctoral Committee Resources

Guidelines for Nominating External Members to Doctoral Exam Committees

A justification from the committee chair and CV are required for each voting member who is not a member of the UIUC Graduate Faculty. Voting members must have earned a terminal degree in their field of study and must have demonstrated expertise that qualifies them to judge the quality of the student’s research and its contribution to the field.

Please note that committees including external members require additional review. Please allow additional time when requesting a committee with external members. A committee must be approved before the exam can take place.

In providing a justification on the committee request form, please note the following:

a.    If the nominee’s credentials are similar to those of our Illinois Graduate Faculty (e.g., a faculty member at a peer institution or researcher with a similar scholarly record), then please simply include a 1-2 sentence explanation of how the nominee’s expertise fits with the dissertation topic and complements the expertise of other committee members. Two examples of good, brief justifications are as follows:

  • Ginny’s research focuses on Grimmauldian basket weaving, and Dr. Granger, a professor at UCLA, is a leading national expert on this topic.  
  • Dr. Snape served as Ginny’s research mentor during a visiting fellowship at the National Diagon Academy. His expertise in 13th-century Grimmauldian basket weaving matches Ginny’s research topic and offers a unique contribution to this committee.

b.    If the nominee’s credentials are unlike those of our Illinois Graduate Faculty, then please explain how the nominee’s expertise fits with the dissertation topic and complements the expertise of other committee members. Please also explain how the proposed member is qualified to judge the quality of the student’s research and its contribution to the field.  Requests may refer to the distinctive nature of the degree being sought if other than a Ph.D. (e.g., Ed.D., D.M.A., Au.D., etc.). If a strong justification cannot be made, then the external nominee should be proposed as a non-voting member.

A note about scholarly independence: Each voting committee member must be well-positioned to vote independently and must be free from conflicts of interest. For example, external members should generally not be recent students or current postdocs supervised by the dissertation director, nor should they be funders with an economic interest in the dissertation’s results.  

Although the Graduate College typically reviews committee requests within a few days, committee requests involving external members should be submitted a minimum of one month in advance to allow time to reconstitute the committee if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions: Doctoral Committees

When is the last day for a currently registered doctoral student to take a preliminary or final exam?
For the purpose of taking the doctoral preliminary or final examination, the academic term in which a student is registered extends through the day before the first day of instruction for the following term (Graduate College Handbook, Chap. 6, Sec. B).

How do I find out whether a potential committee member qualifies as Graduate Faculty and/or tenured?
Refer to the Graduate Faculty Database, searching either by name or department. Records of members who may be counted toward the Graduate College's requirement for at least 2 tenured voting members will display "YES" in the "Tenured" column (or will display a tenure-expiration date in the "Tenure Status Through" column). If no record is found, the individual may not be counted as Graduate Faculty. To request that an individual be added to the Graduate Faculty Database, or to request an extension of Graduate Faculty Membership, please refer to the instructions for Graduate Faculty membership.

Where do I find the doctoral final examination deadline?
Upcoming deadlines related to thesis deposit, including the one for the doctoral final examination, are listed on the Graduate College Thesis and Dissertation Calendar.