Thesis/Project Graduate Advisory Committees

Forming your graduate advisory committee

Regardless of whether you choose the thesis or project option, you will conduct research under the direction of the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC). Composition of the committee consists of a chair, a second reader, and a third reader. You will choose the committee members from among faculty members whom you have had in courses throughout your program of study, including those who have taught MALS core courses. Remember, faculty members must be members of the ETSU graduate faculty to serve on a student’s committee. Be sure to confirm with potential committee members that they are eligible to serve on your committee.

Following the ideal of an interdisciplinary thesis or project, you must choose GAC members from at least two different academic departments. The MALS director and MALS faculty members may serve on a student’s GAC.

If you request assistance, the MALS director will provide help and advice on committee composition. It is a good idea in any case to schedule a meeting with the MALS director as soon as you have a good idea for a thesis or project topic and are ready to draft a project or thesis proposal. She can offer guidance for choosing a committee and prompt you to think about the types of sources you will consult and methods you will use in approaching your research.

When you are ready to form your GAC, you must fill out and have each committee member sign a “Committee Form – Master’s Degree,” which is available from the Graduate School Web site, or by clicking here. The GAC form is also available in the MALS office in the Division of Cross-Disciplinary Studies building.

working with your Committee

It is crucial to make wise choices of GAC members, especially who will chair the committee. You will be working closely with your committee chair, so it is essential to choose someone who is knowledgeable in the field of study pertaining to your thesis/project and who is willing to provide the guidance necessary for the successful and timely completion of the thesis or project. The second and third readers also provide valuable assistance and guidance in subject field, organizational, and compositional matters.

Please be aware that your work is subject to revisions, as suggested by your GAC. Each member of the committee must see the project or thesis as you are working on it. The committee chair is the person who is most responsible for setting the direction of your work, and for suggesting revisions of your work. But other committee members play a vital role, too, in helping you complete your work. Therefore it is important to maintain a strong level of communication with your committee. Obviously they cannot give you feedback and guidance if you are not keeping them updated on your progress.

In the rare instance that a student needs to change a committee member, he or she must complete a “Change of Committee” form, also available from the Graduate School Web site.

All MALS students must submit a project proposal to their GAC chair and to the MALS director. (At times, the GAC Chair and the MALS director will be the same person.) The proposal needs to outline in fairly detailed form the nature and intent of the project, and the sources the student will use to accomplish the goal of the project. The proposal must be approved by the GAC chair before the student can proceed with the project. Projects and theses often change, so it is not uncommon for a student to shift course while working on the thesis or project. Still, you will need to be sure to get approval from your chair before making any changes to your project or thesis. (For more on writing proposals, click here)

For more information about Graduate Advisory Committees, please see the Student Handbook

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