Nominating the Dissertation Committee

Each Ph.D. student is required to complete and defend a doctoral dissertation, ideally before leaving for the fifth year internship.  Once a student and his/her mentor have a good idea of what the dissertation will be, the dissertation committee must be nominated.   Students must nominate a dissertation committee BEFORE the dissertation proposal defense.  The dissertation committee typically consists of the Guidance Committee plus two additional members who can add specialized expertise related to the dissertation topic.  In any case, the committee should include your mentor and at least two additional faculty members from each university who are authorized to be voting members of a dissertation committee.  Please follow these established University policies for creating the Dissertation Committee:

  • It shall include a minimum of five faculty, at least four of whom are tenure-track or in-residence faculty members. There must be at least two faculty members from each university.
  • The chair and at least one faculty member from each campus must be on the Joint Doctoral faculty.
  • An emeritus professor may serve as a committee member or as a committee chair.
  • UC San Diego faculty in the Adjunct series must have a Co-Chair who is in the in-residence or tenure-track series.  Adjunct faculty from SDSU can serve or be Co-Chair of a committee, but they must first be recommended by the SDSU Co-Director to the Dean of the College prior to completing the nomination form (JDP Form 2).  The Dean of the College then sends a letter to the Dean of the Graduate Division recommending they be allowed only to serve or also be allowed to serve as co-chair (an updated vita of the adjunct faculty member must accompany the letter, which can be sent electronically to the Dean of the Graduate Division).  Students who choose an SDSU adjunct faculty member to serve or to co-chair must download the “Agreement for ADJUNCT faculty to serve as thesis/project chair or committee member” form which can be found on the Graduate and Research Affairs web site at  The signed form needs to be submitted with/when the JDP Form 2 is submitted.

Tenure-track, in-residence, clinical, and adjunct are specific university designations and they mean different things at one university versus the other.  It is the student’s responsibility to check with faculty being considered for the committee to be sure they have an appropriate designation for the role that is being proposed on the student’s committee.  Keep in mind that, in order to serve on a dissertation committee, any outside member must be affiliated with a doctoral program in one of the two universities.  Again, time will be saved if the student checks carefully before submitting the nomination form.  A student may wish to consult with a Co-Director prior to nominating the committee to make sure that all faculty being considered have the appropriate academic appointments.

NOTE:  Use the JDP Form 2 to nominate the Dissertation Committee and allow 4-6 weeks for processing, since approval from both Universities are required. For details about how to complete and submit your Dissertation Committee, go to the  JDP Form 2 webpage

In beginning the dissertation there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Students must nominate a dissertation committee BEFORE the dissertation proposal defense.
  • The nomination of the dissertation committee (completion of JDP Form 2) must be approved by all parties, co-directors, and graduate deans.  Allow 4 – 6 weeks.
  • Take JDP Form 3 to the oral proposal defense.  All committee members must sign and indicate if the defense was passed.
  • The research methods and procedures must be reviewed and approved by both universities’ IRB committees, using the procedures developed for joint doctoral programs.  A complete description of those procedures is available at
  • Do not attempt any data collection prior to Committee or IRB approval, as design changes arising from these processes can affect data collection procedures.

Changing the Membership of a Dissertation Committee

Remember that if it becomes necessary to make any changes in the dissertation committee as nominated and approved on JDP Form 2, the committee must be resubmitted for approval on JDP Form 4.   Do not just add a name to JDP Form 2 after receiving approvals from both Graduate Divisions as it will be rejected and process will have to start all over again.