2.1 Dissertation Committee Composition

The Dissertation Committee provides a Learner with the direction, guidance, support, and feedback needed to complete all phases of the dissertation. The Committee consists of three Northcentral Faculty Mentors (one of whom is designated as the Chair). The required qualifications of the Dissertation Chair and Members are as follows:

Member of Dissertation Committee

  • Terminal degree determined by the discipline and specialization

  • Successful completion of a dissertation from a regionally accredited institution

  • Demonstrated record of research and/or doctoral level teaching and/or practical experience appropriate to the program and degree specialization

Chair of Dissertation Committee

  • Terminal degree determined by the discipline and specialization

  • Successful completion of a dissertation from a regionally accredited institution.

  • Demonstrated record of research and/or doctoral level teaching appropriate to the program and degree specialization

  • Publications in peer reviewed or scholarly journals or books, edited or otherwise

2.2 Selection of Committee Members

Learners consult with Faculty Mentors and their Academic Advisor to propose a Dissertation Committee (consisting of one Chair and two members). Contact your Academic Advisor for more information on when and how to begin to think about your Committee.  Please note that the final determination of the Committee’s composition is the prerogative of your School’s Dean, in consultation with Research Faculty.

Learners are advised to select one Member who is an expert in the research method that will be used in the dissertation, one Member who is an expert in the topic area of the dissertation, and one Member who can review the doctoral work from a fresh perspective (for example, if the topic is substance abuse, it may be helpful to include a Committee Member who does not work in that area). One Member may fulfill more than one role—for example, a Member might be an expert in both research methods and a topic area.

It is important to understand that the availability of Faculty Mentors to participate on Dissertation Committees varies with their course loads, other professional activities, and qualifications. Further, each School has specifics related to the process and approval of the Committee, so be sure you understand these specifics.

2.3 Responsibilities of Committee Members

The ultimate responsibility of the Dissertation Committee is to determine whether the Learner has demonstrated the competencies and the accomplishments requisite to the award of a PhD degree. It is the responsibility of Committee Members to:

2.4 Responsibilities of the Dissertation Chair

In addition to the responsibilities listed above for Committee Members, the Chair:

2.5 Working with a Committee

All communication among Learners and Committee Members must be timely, open, and honest. All concerned should maintain a positive, respectful, and professional relationship.

Learners and their Chairs should communicate regularly via the Northcentral messaging system. Responses to all communications, regardless of sender, should be within 48 hours. Chairs may also choose to communicate with Learners via telephone, teleconference, or videoconference.

2.6 Changes in Committee Assignments

Learners may request to replace a Committee member only in unusual situations and only after consulting with their Academic Advisor. Learners must make the request in writing to their Academic Advisor (who will take the request to the School Dean) and must, as a courtesy, communicate their decision to make the request to the Committee member concerned.

Committee Members may request a change in Committee assignment by writing to the Dean of the School in which their Learner is enrolled and copying the Learner’s Academic Advisor. Committee Members must, as a courtesy, communicate their decision to the Learner concerned. If the School Dean grants the reassignment request, the School’s Research Professor and Dean will endeavor to quickly find an appropriate replacement.

Given the length of time it takes to complete dissertation research and the adjunct nature of Northcentral’s Faculty Mentors, it is not unlikely that a Learner will experience changes to their committee during their program. If such changes do occur, the School will work to make the transition as smooth and possible for the Learner and it is not expected that such changes would negatively impact progress towards the degree.

In all situations involving requests for Committee changes, the decision of the Dean as to what is in the Learner’s best interest is final.