Committee and Research Topic

Policy in Catalog:
MS Degree Requirements in the School of Marine Science Graduate Catalog
PhD Degree Requirements in the School of Marine Science Graduate Catalog
Roles and Responsibilities of Students, Advisors, and Committees

Select an Advisory Committee (DocuSign | View Sample)
Select an Advisory Committee (DocuSign, 2 External | View Sample)
Request a Change in Advisory Committee

Note: As soon as the DocuSign PowerForm is initiated by the student, the template will route automatically to committee members and approvers for signatures. Please make sure all committee members have verbally agreed to serve on the committee before the form is circulated. If you have questions about DocuSign, please contact the [[registrar, SMS Registrar]].

General Information:
General Info on Committee Composition, Remote Participation
Committee Composition & Research Topic

The advisory committee is chosen by the student in consultation with the major advisor. A M.S. committee has at least four members and a Ph.D. committee has at least five members. A majority of the committee members must be from the SMS faculty, as published in the current graduate catalog. For a committee of four or five, three members will be from the SMS faculty. For a committee of six, four members will be from the SMS faculty. The committee must include at least one SMS faculty member who is within a different discipline from the student's research discipline. For doctoral students one of the five committee members must be from outside of W&M. If you wish to include a committee member who is not a member of the SMS faculty, the individual must possess a terminal degree in a relevant field and have appropriate experience. If you have any questions, please contact the [[ad-as,Associate Dean for Academic Affairs]] for further information in advance of inviting an individual from outside of the SMS faculty to serve.

Your committee must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. At the time you select your committee you will also declare the topic area for your research. To make it official, formally select your committee and identify your research topic area within 9 months of your program start date. We recommend that you complete the form before the end of the Spring semester at the latest (for students entering in the Fall).

Remote Participation of Committee Members

Committee members are expected to attend the qualifying exam and defense in person. Should a committee member need to participate remotely, however, the advisor should alert the moderator and confirm the availability of adequate means of communications, both at VIMS and at the remote location. The approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is required in the event that more than one committee member participate remotely. When you schedule your qualifying exam or defense, you will be asked to identify which committee members, if any, will participate remotely.

Planning to Bypass the M.S. Degree?

A master's student will initially form a committee with four members, using the above committee composition guidelines. Once the Notification of Intent to Bypass is submitted and approved, a student is required to constitute an examination committee in accordance with the requirements for a Ph.D. program advisory committee prior to the comprehensive exam. Before the comprehensive exam is scheduled, you will need to submit a Request to Change in Advisory Committee form to the [[registrar, SMS Registrar]].

Last Updated: August 21, 2023 by J. Hay