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Current Students

HCDE Doctoral Committees

Doctoral committees support and oversee student progress through the doctoral program. This includes, at a minimum, participating in doctoral milestones (General Exam, Dissertation Proposal, and Dissertation Defense), and may also include additional committee or individual meetings.

Committee formation and updates

You should form your committee at least four months before your general exam. Typically, the general exam committee, including chairs, carries through to later milestones, but you can also make changes if your focus continues to develop, as faculty availability changes, or as you find you need different or additional support. Use the below form to create or update your committee.

Doctoral Committee Update Form


The Doctoral Supervisory Committee must consist of at least four members: a minimum of three graduate faculty and a fourth faculty member who serves as a Graduate School Representative (GSR).

UW designates some faculty as graduate faculty and graduate faculty with a doctoral endorsement. The majority of committee members must be graduate faculty and at least three–inclusive of chair(s) and GSR–must be graduate faculty with an endorsement to chair. To determine if a faculty member is eligible for a supervisory committee role or to serve as a GSR, please search the Graduate Faculty Locator. Faculty who go by a different name may appear differently than how you are used to addressing them, and so searching by email can sometimes return better results.

  • Chairs(s): The student should choose one or two graduate faculty members to be the chair or co-chairs. At least one co-chair must be a member of the HCDE faculty (with their primary appointment in HCDE department), with a doctoral endorsement, who holds a doctoral degree (PhD, D. Phil, J.D. or equivalent in the specific field of study).

    The other co-chair can be an HCDE adjunct or affiliate faculty member or a faculty member in another department. Appointing a co-chair who is not UW graduate faculty requires a petition to the graduate school.

    See the Graduate School Supervisory Memo for specific information.
  • Members: Committee members can include faculty from HCDE and across the university, as well as people from outside UW (e.g., in industry, at other universities). 
  • Graduate School Representative: The graduate school representative is there to ensure a process that is fair to the student and to ensure university-wide high standards scholarly performance. The GSR must have a doctoral endorsement and must be free of conflicts of interest: they may not have a primary appointment in HCDE or co-chair's department, and should not have budgetary, research or publication, or personal relationships with the student or committee chair(s). See the graduate school's guidance on GSR eligibility.

HCDE requires that at least two members of the doctoral supervisory committee–inclusive of the chair(s)– be HCDE graduate faculty. This supports identifying and promoting opportunities for students within the department and the development of our field.

Reading Committee 

As you prepare for your final exam (dissertation defense), you will need to designate a reading committee of at least three members. At least one of these members must be graduate faculty with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees; typically the reading committee is a subset of your supervisory committee.