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Thesis Committee & Defense

The student will select three faculty members to serve on the thesis committee, which functions as both an advisory committee and an examining committee. The thesis committee must be formed prior to the submission of a written prospectus for thesis research, i.e. the first part of the Comprehensive Examination.

One faculty member will serve as the student’s principal advisor and will be designated as the chair of the committee.

The committee chair and at least one other member of the committee shall be selected from either the department’s Anthropology Faculty or the program’s Affiliated Faculty from other departments, in addition to which a third faculty member may be approved by the committee.

One committee member must be from outside the department, as required by College bylaws, and all committee members must hold at least a Master’s degree. Affiliated Faculty of the Anthropology program from other departments may be counted as either “internal” or “external” for the purposes of satisfying this rule. All committee members will be voting members of the committee in its assessment of the student’s work.

The thesis committee will receive and approve the student’s written prospectus for thesis research and conduct the oral defense (which together comprise the requirements for the Comprehensive Examination), and supervise the conduct of the student’s research and thesis writing.

NOTE:  If a student’s research involves living human subjects, then Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is required, and the research prospectus must therefore also be approved by the University’s Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects before any data is collected. The student’s committee will certify when the student is ready to defend the thesis. This final thesis defense includes a formal oral presentation of the student’s research findings and must be done before the thesis is approved. The final draft of the thesis must be in the committee’s hands at least one week before the scheduled oral defense. The thesis must be written in English, carefuly proof-read and clearly revised, and all members of the committee must indicate acceptance by their signatures, following the oral defense.


Scheduling the Defense

Students are advised to reach out to their committee the semester before they plan to defend their thesis in order to develop a timeline for writing and revisions of their thesis.

The thesis defense before the committee should be scheduled NO LATER than 14 days prior to the university’s deadline for submission of the thesis


Submitting Required Academic Forms

Students are responsible for notifying the graduate advisor at each step as they advance through the degree program to ensure that they have filed all the required paperwork with the College.

Required Academic Forms are all available on the CLASS website and include the following: 

  1. Committee formation and any changes
  2. Date of the comprehensive examination (prospectus defense)
  3. Date of the thesis defense
  4. Graduation Application – Students must submit this application the semester of graduation by the date indicated in the Academic Calendar.

Additional forms for special circumstances (dropping a class, can be found on the Graduate School webpage under Forms and Procedures.