Faculty members provide advice and guidance to students throughout their graduate career. Each student is paired initially with a faculty member who meets with the student on an as-needed basis. Faculty committees also provide advice, guidance and support to graduate students. In the pre-dissertation period, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee meets with students at the beginning and end of each semester to offer guidance on choices related to courses, laboratory rotations and potential dissertation advisors. This committee also works in conjunction with the Preliminary Examining Committee to oversee the Preliminary Qualifying Exams (PQE), in which students prepare and defend a research proposal before faculty experts in the field.
Following the successful PQE, in December of year 2, the student and dissertation advisor select a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC), which meets at least once every twelve months to assess progress on dissertation research and to provide advice. A list of proposed DAC members should be submitted for approval to the Program Chair before invitations are extended to sit on the committee. The Dissertation Advisory Committee and the dissertation advisor decide when the student should write and defend the dissertation. One member of the Dissertation Advisory Committee, usually the chair, sits on the Dissertation Defense Committee, which examines the student on the contents of the dissertation.