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 (please refer to the UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Committee Membership Table document for eligibility questions regarding UC San Diego 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-2 Form).  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-2 Form 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.

Please note:  If an outside professor is chosen to serve as a member of the dissertation committee that professor must be affiliated with a doctoral program in order to be approved by the graduate divisions.  Neither graduate dean will approve professors who are not affiliated, and the student will be required to nominate someone else. Some academic appointment categories may not “count” toward the five member committee requirement. For example, UC San Diego faculty who are in the Health Sciences Clinical Professor series are not permitted to serve as one of the required five members of the committee without  special approval of the UC San Diego Graduate Dean; however, such faculty may serve as a sixth member.  In addition, an adjunct faculty member may not be the sole chair of a dissertation committee; there must always be a co-chair.  The major reason students need to submit JDP-2 Form early is the ensure that a “legal” committee has been nominated.

Processing the JDP-2 Form

For detailed steps on how to initiate/complete the JDP-2 Form – Nomination of the Doctoral Committee, please visit the JDP-2 Form webpage under Student Handbook/JDP Forms.

JDP-2 Form must be approved at least two weeks before the dissertation proposal defense.

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-2 Form, the committee must be resubmitted for approval on JDP-4 Form.   Do not just add a name to the JDP-2 Form after receiving approvals from both Graduate Divisions as it will be rejected and process will have to start all over again.