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FAQ

Doctoral Committees

May the Outside Field Member and the Outside Unit member be the same person?

The Outside Unit member and Outside Field Member MAY be the same person if that person meets the requirements of both positions.

Does the Outside Field Member requirement still hold?

Yes, the Outside Field Member policy has not changed; however, the Graduate School will be reviewing the Outside Field Member appointment a bit differently, to ensure that the “field” listed for the Outside Field Member does not match the program/major of the student.  For example, a student whose major is Business Administration could have an Outside Field Member from one of that program’s emphasis or specialization areas, such as Accounting or Marketing.  Because “Marketing” does not precisely match the major, “Business Administration”, this is an acceptable Outside Field appointment.

Does the change in policy also change the number of faculty required to serve on a doctoral committee?

No.  All doctoral committees must have a minimum total of four Penn State Graduate Faculty members (one of which must be the dissertation adviser).  Graduate Faculty appointments are maintained in a database and displayed on the Graduate School’s website.   This link provides the most reliable source of information for identifying Penn State Graduate Faculty members.  

1.    Two of these four members must represent the major field (one of which must serve as chair of the committee).

2.    One of these four members must serve as the Outside Field Member.

3.    One of these four members must serve as the Outside Unit Member.

4.    As stated above, the Outside Field Member and the Outside Unit Member may be the same individual as
long as that person meets the requirements of both positions.

What defines an "administrative unit" -- is it the graduate program, or is it the department within which the program is located?


In the case of tenure-line faculty, the administrative unit is the faculty’s tenure home.  The administrative unit is the “administrative area” assigned to the faculty.  This unit/area displays in the LDAP Directory after the “Department” field.  First, look-up the dissertation adviser and note the administrative unit.  Then compare the administrative unit of the dissertation adviser to the administrative unit of the proposed Outside Unit Member.  If the administrative units differ from the adviser's administrative unit, then the individual is acceptable as an Outside Unit Member.