Student-advisor relationships are established in one of two ways. Either the students become interested in a topic then selects director on the basis of interest and competency in the area, or students first become interested in the work of a particular faculty member, and then decides to write their dissertation in that area. This may also change due to faculty availability. Either approach is acceptable. The important thing is that the students feel free to approach any member of the graduate faculty concerning the question of advising. Program advisors are generally the chair of the dissertation committee. However, students should also feel free to change advisors, although if this is done after the research is underway, it is likely to result in some delay in the completion of the dissertation.
As soon as students have decided on their topic or in general area of study for their dissertation, they should confer with their advisors and the Director of Graduate Study about the membership of their dissertation committee. This will consist of four departmental members and one outside member from another department. In some cases, the committee may consist of three departmental members and two members from other departments, and/or, with the approval from the COMS department and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, faculty members from outside the University.
The degree candidate's preference as to the membership of their dissertation committee members must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies and COGA Advisor when they pass their comprehensive examination. This committee will constitute the nucleus of the final dissertation committee, and will counsel with the student in the writing of the dissertation.