Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee
The doctoral dissertation reading committee consists of the principal dissertation advisor and, typically, two other readers. The doctoral dissertation reading committee must have three members and may not have more than five members. All members of the reading committee approve the dissertation. At least one member must be from the student's major department. Normally, all committee members are members of the Stanford University Academic Council or are emeritus Academic Council members. The student's department chair may, in some cases, approve the appointment of a reader who is not a current or emeritus member of the Academic Council, if that person is particularly well qualified to consult on the dissertation topic and holds a Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree. Former Stanford Academic Council members and non-Academic Council members may thus on occasion serve on a reading committee. A non-Academic Council member (including former Academic Council members) may replace only one of three required members of dissertation reading committees. If the reading committee has four or five members, at least three members (comprising the majority) must be current or emeritus members of the Academic Council.
Any member of the Academic Council may serve as the principal dissertation advisor. If former Academic Council members, emeritus Academic Council members, or non-Academic Council members are to serve as the principal dissertation advisor, the appointment of a co-advisor who is currently on the Academic Council is required. This is to ensure representation for the student in the department by someone playing a major advisor role in completion of the dissertation. However, a co-advisor is not required during the first two years following retirement for emeritus Academic Council members who are recalled to active service.
The reading committee, as proposed by the student and agreed to by the prospective members, is endorsed by the chair of the major department on the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form. This form must be submitted before approval of Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status or before scheduling a University oral examination that is a defense of the dissertation. The reading committee may be appointed earlier, according to the department timetable for doctoral programs. All subsequent changes to the reading committee must be approved by the chair of the major department. The reading committee must conform to University regulations at the time of degree conferral.