Graduate Committee

Roles of Advisory Committee Members

The supervision of the general study program of each student, including compliance with all the various Board of Regents, institutional, and Graduate Division policies, is primarily the responsibility of the advisor. In some departments, the advisor and the major professor are the same person. In other departments, one person may be designated as the advisor for all graduate students, freeing other faculty to concentrate on research with the student in the role of the major professor. The Graduate Student Advisory Committee assists in this role. The Student Advisory Committee consists of:

  • a major professor selected from the CSE Faculty,
  • a graduate division representative, (must not be from the CSE faculty),
  •  two additional members from the CSE faculty.

Primary duties of all committee members include:

  • Assistance in formulating the student’s Program of Study, and approval of any Program of Study changes
  • Supervision of thesis research
  • Suggestion of revisions to the thesis
  • Approval of the final draft of the thesis
  • Preparation of and participation in the thesis defense

In summary, committee members are to advise the student throughout his/her graduate study and ensure that the student fulfills all requirements for degree completion.   Note, under some circumstances, the student may select an advisor from outside the CSE faculty. The CSE program coordinator will act as co-advisor to assure that CSE requirements are met.  For details, please contact the CSE program coordinator.

Responsibilities of Individual Committee Members

The specific duties of each individual committee member are outlined briefly below. For more information, all committee members should read the more detailed information found later in this document, which describes the role of the advisory committee as a whole.

Major Professor

The major professor serves as chairperson of the Graduate Advisory Committee and assists the student in selection of other members of the committee. The major professor is primarily responsible for supervision of the graduate student’s research and thesis/dissertation preparation, as well as ensuring that academic standards and requirements are met and satisfied.

To be eligible to serve as a major professor on a student’s advisory committee, the person must be a faculty member at South Dakota Mines with a terminal degree. Individuals without a terminal degree may be granted an exception to this policy if the department notifies the Graduate School of its approval in writing. Off-campus advisors must be appointed as adjunct faculty to be eligible to serve as a major professor. The department/program must notify the graduate office in writing of this appointment and approve the individual to direct research work. In such cases, a co-major professor located on campus should be selected to assist with administrative guidance.

Graduate Division Representative

The graduate division representative must be chosen from outside the major department/program. The primary role of the graduate representative is to act as an intermediary between the advisory committee and the Graduate Office, ensuring that general degree requirements are met and handling approval paperwork. To be eligible to serve as the graduate representative on a student’s advisory committee, the person must be a faculty member with a terminal degree.

Other Committee Members

Each graduate student’s advisory committee will also have from one to three additional members, depending upon the degree being sought by the student. The primary role of these members is to assist the major professor and graduate representative in advising the student throughout his/her graduate study. These committee members will also participate in any and all final examinations and thesis/dissertation defenses.

Detailed Description of Committee Role

The complete role of the advisory committee is outlined below in detail. This summary is laid out in time order, from the beginning of a student’s study to the end.

Program of Study

All members of the student’s advisory committee will assist the student in formulating a “Program of Study” leading to the advanced degree. Members should advise the student so that all degree requirements are met. Committee members may also wish to suggest courses or electives relevant to the student’s chosen research project.

In the event that the student later decides to make changes to their “Program of Study,” new approvals must be sought from all members of the advisory committee before it will be reviewed for final approval by the Dean of Graduate Education.

Thesis Completion and Approval

Although the student’s thesis is written under the direction of the major professor, the student is free to seek guidance from all members of his/her advisory committee. Once the thesis is completed, a final draft will be submitted by the student to each member of his/her advisory committee no later than two full weeks before the student’s scheduled examination. The advisory committee may decide to enforce earlier submission deadlines. Members will then recommend revisions to the student, who will make corrections before the final draft of the thesis is submitted to the graduate office. Only the major professor is required to sign the final draft of the thesis, but additional signatures from other committee members are allowed.

Final Examination and Thesis Defense

All Master of Science degree candidates, thesis and non-thesis, will be given a final examination covering course material. All committee members must be given the opportunity for input and evaluation of this final examination, regardless of form.

Master’s students will also defend their thesis in an oral examination open to the public, with the student’s advisory committee serving as the examining board for the examination. The student shall obtain and complete the graduate office form to schedule the defense and, in conjunction with the major professor, shall seek the approval of all committee members, and shall return the form to the graduate office no less than five working days before the defense date. The major professor will head the session and is responsible for ensuring that a majority of the committee and the graduate representative is present. Following the examination, all committee members will vote to determine the outcome. A negative vote by two or more committee members or a negative vote by the graduate representative will signify failure of the examination.

Following examinations, results will be attested to by all committee members on a form furnished to the graduate representative by the Graduate Office. The original form will be filed with the Graduate Office and a copy with the department/program.

If a student passes with reservation or pending correction, a copy of the form will be filed with both offices. The originals will be filed with both offices, with appropriate affirming signatures, when final corrects have been made and accepted.

If a student fails to satisfy the examiners on any examination, the committee may schedule a re-examination, normally eight to 12 weeks after the date of the first examination. The student may petition to their committee for an earlier re-examination.

While the student’s committee determines the character and length of the examination, sufficient time should be devoted to a consideration of matters relating to the dissertation to test thoroughly the ability of the candidate to defend his/her work. Questions will, in general, be confined to the dissertation and to background material related to it.

Satisfactory completion of the final examination requires a “pass” vote from the graduate office representative and no more than one “fail” vote from the other members of the advisory committee. If the student fails, another examination can be scheduled only with the approval of the student’s advisory committee and the Dean of Graduate Education.