Before presenting herself or himself for the qualifying examinations, a student must select a member of the doctoral program faculty who agrees to chair and supervise the student's doctoral dissertation. The dissertation chair does not necessarily have to be the student's former academic adviser. Except in very exceptional cases, the dissertation chair is a tenured member of the doctoral faculty.
In selecting a dissertation chair, the student should engage in discussion with potential faculty members to identify mutual interests and the likelihood of establishing a compatible working relationship. Since the dissertation chair often becomes the student's principal advocate within the program and an important reference for future endeavors, students should be diligent in their selection.
Upon approval of the thesis topic a candidate, in consultation with the chair of the thesis committee and the doctoral program director, shall form a dissertation committee of four faculty members, including one member from outside of the graduate program in planning and public policy. The members need not be the same as the comprehensive examination committee. Once the committee is constituted, the student should notify the doctoral program director as specified in the program handbook for approval.