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Washington State University Graduate School

Chapter 7B: The Master’s Advisory Committee

The advisory committee guides the student through the master’s program, advises the student on required coursework, oversees the student’s scholarly activities or research, reviews progress toward degree, and conducts the final exam. The master’s advisory committee is nominated on the Program of Study. During the first semester or summer session of enrollment, the chair/director of the major program should, in conjunction with the student, appoint an advisor to serve as chair of the student’s master’s advisory committee until a permanent chair is obtained. Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain a permanent chair and advisory committee members for the graduate program. For additional information on advisory committee requirements determined by a program’s bylaws, see Chapter 1.D. All programs are required to have bylaws. A major function of program bylaws is to define the eligibility of tenure-track and career-track faculty to be appointed as graduate faculty, and the allowed level of participation (e.g., serve on, co-chair or chair an advisory committee).

Master’s advisory committee composition must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • All members of the advisory committee must hold a degree of comparable level to the degree sought by the student (WAC 250-61-100).
  • Each master’s advisory committee must include at least three WSU faculty members, with current appointments


  • 1. Two of the members must be graduate faculty in the student’s program.
  • 2. At least one of these two members must be a tenured/tenure-track faculty.
  • 3. The third member must be WSU faculty, but need not be graduate faculty in any program.


  • If a program is in the process of developing bylaws,at least three advisory committee members must be WSU faculty in the program, and the advisory committee chair and one other member of the student’s advisory committee must be tenured/tenure-track.
  • Advisory committees may have more than three members; however, all members must meet Graduate School policy and program bylaws, and the majority of the advisory committee members must be graduate facultyin the program.
  • Individuals who are not WSU faculty may be considered as additional (beyond three) advisory committee members.
    • Such external advisory committee members must hold a degree comparable to that sought by the student and have special knowledge that is particularly important to the student’s proposed program.
    • Examples of such external advisory committee members would include faculty from another university or individuals from an appropriate government, business,or industry organization.
    • Such an individual must be nominated to serve on an advisory committee by the program chair to the dean of the Graduate School, who makes the final decision. A current curriculum vita must be included with the request.

It is imperative to avoid situations that may constitute, or may be construed as, a conflict of interest when forming a graduate student’s advisory committee.Examples include: 1) a new faculty member, who was a WSU graduate student, serving on the advisory committee of a former graduate peer; and 2) a faculty member, who is the employer/supervisor of a staff member pursuing a degree, also serving on that staff member’s advisory committee.

The student is responsible for establishing and maintaining an advisory committee. WSU faculty have the right to decline to serve on any specific student’s advisory committee. All advisory committee members and the major department chair/director must sign the Program of Study. Once the Program of Study has been filed with the Graduate School, changes may be made to the advisory committee composition by completing the Committee Change form.

The Graduate School dean has the final approval for all advisory committees. The dean also has the authority to remove a faculty member from a student‘s advisory committee after consultation with the program/department chair, the dean of the college,and the provost, when it is in the best interest of the student and the program.


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