Graduate Faculty Policies and Procedures

The graduate faculty represents the intersection of research active faculty and those eligible to serve on the committees of students pursing doctoral degrees. They are essential to the research mission of the University of Oregon.

The university further recognizes that, in addition to research faculty, other faculty are essential participants in graduate education by serving as instructors, advisors, and members of the advisory and thesis committees of students pursuing the wide range of specializations, certificates, and applied and research master’s degrees available at the university.

In order to ensure the excellence of graduate education at the University of Oregon, the Graduate Council provides the following policies for:


Part 1. Graduate Faculty Membership Policies

All tenured or tenure-track faculty members in academic departments, as well as career non-tenure track faculty in the category of lecturer and research professor, are automatically appointed to the graduate faculty.

Tenured and tenure-related faculty are, by their appointment, presumed to be research active faculty members.

Other career non-tenure track faculty, including professors of practice, may be appointed to the graduate faculty through a process of nomination, review, and approval.

Faculty will be nominated and approved by the graduate degree-granting academic department, the dean of the school or college overseeing that department, and the Graduate School for a five year term.

Each member of the graduate faculty is appointed to serve in one or more academic departments based on primary appointment (and nominating department if applicable).

Graduate faculty may also be affiliated with one or more research institutes.


Part 2. Graduate Committee Service

Dissertation Committees

The dissertation committee consists of a minimum of four members, each with a particular role:

Some committees also include the role of advisor separate from the chair. The dissertation committee supervises a student’s dissertation work, determines the acceptability of the dissertation, and serves as the final examining committee.

The dissertation committee must be proposed to and approved by the Graduate School via the degree-awarding department no later than six months before the date the student expects to hold their final oral defense.

Each department or program determines its own internal dissertation committee approval procedures.

After the dissertation committee is approved by the department, the departmental graduate secretary/coordinator recommends members of the dissertation committee to the Graduate School by entering this information into GradWeb.

Departmental policies for membership of doctoral committees should be guided by Graduate School policy, but may be more restrictive than Graduate School policy.

Additionally, petitions for exception to Graduate School policies may be submitted for final approval to the Graduate School.

Chair(s)

The chair(s) of a committee must be able and willing to assume principal responsibility for advising the student. In addition, the chair(s) should have adequate time available for this work and should expect to be accessible to the student.

The following requirements apply:

  • The chair must be a tenure-related member of the graduate faculty who holds a doctoral degree.

  • In the case of a tenure-related member of the graduate faculty with an appointment in a department other than the student’s degree-granting department, the department must have authorized that faculty member to serve as a dissertation chair (or co-chair) in the student’s degree-granting department using the dissertation committee service nomination form.

  • If co-chairs are appointed, both co-chairs share the responsibility for the student's progress.

Once a faculty member is authorized to chair in another department, they remain authorized to chair in that department indefinitely, or until the department asks to change the faculty member’s status.

Once authorized to serve in that capacity for a department, the faculty member can no longer serve as institutional representative for the department on future committees.

Advisor(s)

In those departments in which dissertation committees have both a chair and an advisor, the advisor(s) of a committee must be able and willing to assume principal responsibility for advising the student.

In addition, the advisor(s) should have adequate time available for this work and should expect to be accessible to the student.

In addition, the following requirements apply:

  • The faculty member must be a member of the graduate faculty with authorization to serve as doctoral advisor.

  • Tenured or tenure-track faculty members in departments that award doctoral degrees are automatically given authorization to serve as advisor.

  • In departments in which the role of chair and advisor are separate, professors of practice may be appointed to the graduate faculty and granted authorization to serve as a dissertation advisor (or co-advisor) in the student’s degree-granting department.

In the case of a member of the graduate faculty who has a primary appointment in a department other than the student’s degree-granting department, the department must have granted authorization for that faculty member to serve as a dissertation advisor (or co-advisor) in the student’s degree-granting department. If co-advisors are appointed, both co-advisors share the responsibility for the student's progress.

In order to receive authorization to serve as advisor on a committee outside of their primary department, a faculty member must be nominated by the student’s degree granting department using the dissertation committee service nomination form.

Once a faculty member is authorized, they remain authorized to advise in that department indefinitely, or until the department asks to change the faculty member’s status.

Once authorized to serve in that capacity for a department the faculty member can no longer serve as institutional representative for that department on future committees.

This policy does not apply to the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and physics, where the role of chair and advisor are separate. In these departments, if the advisor is not a member of the degree-granting department the institutional representative must be from a different department or research institute than the advisor.

Institutional Representative

The institutional representative serves in the role of impartial, “outside” committee member who ensures that all rules and standard practices governing committee procedures are followed.

The institutional representative typically also offers substantive expertise related to the dissertation, although that is not required.

The institutional representative must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a tenure-related member of the graduate faculty.

  • Must be from a University of Oregon department other than the student’s degree-granting department.

  • In the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and physics, where there the role of chair and advisor are separate, if the advisor is not a member of the degree-granting department, the institutional representative must be from a different department or research institute than the advisor.

Core Members (dissertation committee members other than the chair and institutional representative)

At least one core member must be a member of the graduate faculty (including non-tenure-related members) from the student’s degree-granting department.

The remaining member may be a:

Additional Core Members (optional)

Additional members may be appointed to the dissertation committee, at the discretion of the student’s degree-granting department.

An additional core nember may be a:

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Degree Programs

Each interdisciplinary degree program shall maintain a list of faculty members appointed to the program for purposes of graduate faculty membership and designated by the department as eligible to serve as chairs/advisors and core members or as core members only.

If a faculty member is appointed to serve as chairs/advisors or core members, they may not serve as institutional representatives for committees in that program.

Master’s Advisory/Thesis Committees

The master's candidate's advisory/thesis committee, appointed by the department, determines the work to be completed in light of the student's academic background and objectives.

The number of committee members is determined by the department.

The advisor is typically a tenure-related member of the graduate faculty, though non-tenure-track faculty members may be appointed if appropriate and within departmental guidelines.


Part 3. Procedure for Appointment of NTTF to the Graduate Faculty

Non-tenure track faculty members (NTTFs) who hold a PhD, an equivalent doctoral degree, or the terminal graduate degree in their field (e.g., MFA, MA, MBA, JD, MD, etc.) may be nominated to become members of the graduate faculty on a five-year cycle.

The nomination of eligible NTTFs to the graduate faculty begins in the degree-granting department.

An eligible NTTF submits a letter of interest and a current curriculum vita to the head of the department in which he or she wishes to serve.

  • The department head, in consultation with the graduate faculty in the degree-granting department, shall determine if the NTFF fits the criteria listed above for NTTF appointment to the graduate faculty.

    The department head and graduate faculty also determine at that time if the candidate complies with any internal department procedures and criteria developed for nomination.

    If the department approves this nomination, the dissertation committee service nomination form and required attachments are forwarded to the dean of the relevant school or college.

  • Upon approval by the dean of the relevant school or college the nomination form and required attachments are forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval.

  • Appointments of NTTF to the graduate faculty will be granted for a five-year term. Every five years, to maintain graduate faculty status, the degree-granting department must request renewal of graduate faculty status for the NTFF.

    If approved for renewal by the faculty of the degree-granting department, the department head will fill out a Dissertation Committee Service nomination form indicating renewal and provide an updated CV to the Graduate School.

  • Faculty on the Tenure Reduction Program (TRP) can continue to be members of the graduate faculty and serve on dissertation committees without approval of the Graduate School as long as the degree-granting department approves this service.


Part 4. Procedures for Appointing Faculty who are not Members of the Graduate Faculty to a Particular Dissertation Committee

Under certain circumstances it may serve doctoral students to have committee members from one of the following categories serve on their dissertation committees:

  • A UO non-tenure track faculty who is not a member of the graduate faculty

    • Research-active non-tenure-track faculty members (NTTFs) may be approved to serve as core member on a particular committee.

    • At a minimum, the faculty member must hold a PhD, an equivalent doctoral degree, or the terminal graduate degree in their field (e.g., MFA, MA, MBA, JD, MD, etc.).

  • A faculty member from another college or university

  • A qualified practicing professional or community member

In such cases, the following procedure will apply:

  • The department head, in consultation with the graduate faculty in a graduate-degree granting department, shall determine if the individual’s scholarly record and/or expertise qualifies him/her to serve on a dissertation committee.

    If the department approves this nomination (based on procedures determined by the department), the dissertation committee service nomination form and any required attachments are forwarded to the dean of the relevant school or college.

  • Upon approval by the dean of the relevant school or college, the nomination form and any required attachments are forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval.

  • Approval of appointment will only be for a particular committee.

Faculty Who Leave the University

Faculty members who leave the university may continue to serve as the chair, co-chair, advisor, or core member of a dissertation committee for one year beyond their departure at the discretion of the department and without Graduate School exception, on students’ committees for which they were chair, co-chair, advisor, or core member before leaving the university.

Service beyond one year must be approved by both the degree-granting department and the Graduate School.

To request service beyond one year after leaving the UO, the department should submit the dissertation committee service nomination form along with a memo (by campus mail or by email) to the Graduate School from the department head confirming the value of this service to both the student and the degree program.

Retired Faculty

Members of the Graduate Faculty who retire may continue to serve as the chair, co-chair, advisor, or core member of a dissertation committee for one year beyond their retirement on student committees which the faculty member was chair or core member and in which the committee was Graduate School approved (through GradWeb) before retirement at the discretion of the department and without Graduate School exception.

Additional years will be granted, with Graduate School exception, on a yearly basis depending on the faculty member’s current research and/or teaching activities within the discipline or department.

To request service beyond one year after retirement, the department should submit the dissertation committee service nomination form along with a memo from the department head confirming the value of this service to both the student and the degree program.

Faculty on tenure reduction plans (TRP) are considered faculty, not retired faculty, for the purposes of this policy.

Graduate School approval is required for retired faculty to begin chairing or serving on committees after they have retired.

Departments are asked submit the dissertation committee service nomination form along with a memo from the department head requesting approval for a three-year term (or for a particular committee) and confirming the value of this service to both the student and the degree program.

Qualified Practicing Professionals and Community Members

Under certain circumstances it may serve doctoral students to have non-UO professionals/dxperts (who are not current faculty members of another college or university) serve on their dissertation committees as a core member or additional core member.

Generally, the non-UO professional or expert will meet the following criteria:

  • Must hold a PhD, an equivalent doctoral degree, or the terminal graduate degree in their field (e.g., MFA, MA, MBA, JD, MD, etc.)

  • If the non-UO professional or expert does not hold a terminal graduate degree, the department must present a compelling argument about how the individual’s substantive knowledge is uniquely valuable for the student’s research.

  • The department must be able to certify that there is no conflict of interest that could interfere with the fair judgment of the student’s scholarly work.

  • In order to be appointed to a dissertation committee, qualified practicing professionals and community members must be nominated by the student’s degree granting department using the dissertation committee service nomination form.


Part 5. Graduate Teaching Eligibility

Membership in the graduate faculty is not a requirement to teach graduate-level courses (those numbered 500-599, 600-699, and 700-799). However, faculty teaching these courses must hold a graduate degree in a field relevant to the course.

Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the academic unit offering the course in cases where the faculty member is otherwise qualified to teach the particular material offered. Exceptions are granted for up to three years and may be renewed.

Academic units are required to record the rationale for the exception and provide the faculty member's CV to the Graduate School.

The Graduate School maintains the record of exceptions which will be eligible for review by the Graduate Council and which will be made available to be part of decennial program and accreditation reviews.

Exceptions must be documented through the Graduate School.