The mentoring committee is a source of advice and feedback for the student, in addition to the research advisor. The committee comprises 3 members: the research advisor and a minimum of 2 other faculty members chosen by the student. The research advisor is not the chair of the mentoring committee.
The student gets advice and feedback from the mentoring committee, which administers the second-year exam (Thesis Background Exam), third-year exam (Original Research Proposal), 4th year meeting (5th year meeting, if necessary) and makes up part of the Ph.D. dissertation committee.
The faculty members on the mentoring committee also are an important resource for the graduate student for scientific and professional advice and second opinions. When a student is applying for fellowships and for future employment, the student typically needs 2-3 recommendation letters; developing a mutual familiarity with the faculty on the student’s mentoring committee is a good way to build these relationships, resulting in more detailed, informed recommendations.
The student chooses the mentoring committee by November 1 of the fall semester of their second year. Each student rank orders 3 – 5 faculty to be on their mentoring committee. Faculty from outside of the department can be on the mentoring committee (e.g., someone possessing expertise relevant to the research), but must be pre-approved by the research advisor. The Graduate Program Office makes the mentoring committee assignments based on the student preferences with the approval of the faculty by mid-November.