Role of Dissertation Chair

The responsibilities of the dissertation chair include the following:

  • Recommend committee members to the Graduate College, with the advice and consent of the student. If changes in the committee membership are desired, they must be approved by the dissertation chair and the committee member must be duly notified.
  • Supervise the formulation/writing of the candidate's proposal. The candidate should consult with the committee members for advice on the dimensions of the study; however, it is the responsibility of the dissertation chair, in conjunction with the candidate, to submit to the committee members an approved proposal.
  • Schedule an oral defense of the proposal no earlier than two weeks after the committee members have received a copy of the proposal. The oral defense should not be scheduled until: a) the candidate has passed the comprehensive examination; b) the proposal is in a form acceptable to the dissertation chair; and c) he/she feels the candidate can successfully defend the proposal.
  • Direct the candidate in carrying out the approved study and closely supervise the writing of the dissertation.
  • Schedule a final oral examination to defend the dissertation. This should not be scheduled until: a) the dissertation has been approved by the dissertation chair; i.e., it meets minimum standards (fidelity to the prospectus, conformity to APA style, readability, and accuracy of data presentation and analysis); and, b) he/she feels the candidate is prepared to defend the dissertation.

Note that typically, the dissertation chair will approve the chapters of the proposal (and the dissertation) before it is given to the committee members to read. However, each committee may decide how closely committee members will monitor and provide feedback on the writing of individual chapters and whether the document is read chapter-by-chapter or in its totality. The dissertation chair and committee should agree on this procedure as soon as possible after the formulation of the entire committee.