I have some exciting news to share! It’s official, I officially have a graduate committee! As some of you may know, I am currently in graduate school working towards my masters degree in Communication Studies. The program I am in usually takes 2-3 years to complete and the “final experience” consists of one of three options: to complete a project, a thesis or a final comprehensive exam. I chose the thesis route ?
In order to complete your culminating experience you need to put together a graduate committee, that is composed of at least 2 faculty in the department in which you are studying and (if you’d like) one faculty from another department or even from outside the university.
Note: These rules are specific to the department and university that I am attending. Each university and department in that university may work differently.
Putting together a graduate school committee was a daunting task! I honestly didn’t know where to begin and I seriously felt like I was falling behind so today I want to share how I did it! How I went from what seemed impossible and made it possible.
Step 1: Meet With Your Graduate Coordinator or Graduate Director
Although I had no idea how the process worked I knew I had to start somewhere. The first logical step in my eyes was to meet with the graduate coordinator in my department. I scheduled a zoom meeting and expressed my concerns and confusion and asked for his advice. Let me just say, this step made all the difference. He gave me tangible steps to follow that were very clear and understandable.
Step 2: Identify your Topic and Areas of Interest
This next step is so important and I didn’t realize it was until I was in the process and that is- choosing a topic! In order to choose your committee members it is super important that you know what you want to research. This seems like common sense but, I was under the impression that you would just choose committee members and then they would help you choose a topic. I was wrong! The reason that it is important that you have an idea of the topic you want to research is because when you are looking for your committee members you have to remember they are going to guide you in this process and what better way than to work with faculty who already have experience researching this area. I didn’t know this, so I want to encourage you to think about your areas of interest from the very beginning of your program.
Step 3: Start Meeting With Faculty
Once you have established your topic and have an idea of what you want to research, it’s time to start meeting with faculty. You’ll want to do some background research first to identify which faculty seem to align the best with your research interests. Once you make that list, you can start scheduling informational meetings.
Step 4: Make Your Selection
Once you have met with a group of faculty (one-on-one), it’s time to make the ask. I’m not going to lie, this was very nerve wracking! Rejection is not fun and let me just share that it will indeed most likely happen! Does it feel good? No! But, good news is that you’re not alone, it’s very common and definitely not personal. Sometimes it’s as simple as the faculty not having enough time to supervise your project and that is ok!
So, how do you make the ask? Well, what I did was draft a nice email stating that I enjoyed our conversation and learning about their research interests and that I thought that they would be an amazing asset to my project and that I felt that I could learn a lot from them and then just asked if they would be part of my committee.
Step 5: Fill Out the Corresponding Paperwork
Once you get the yes, it’s time to fill out the corresponding paperwork to make it official and start the process towards writing your graduate thesis. Congratulations! ?
As for me, who is in my committee? Well, I am fortunate enough to work with two outstanding faculty in the communications department at the university I am attending as well as with my boss and department chair of the department I work for. I am very excited (and scared) to start this journey and can’t wait to share all the details with you here.
As I was trying to navigate this process, which like I mentioned felt daunting, there was one quote that kept coming to mind so I thought I’d end this blog post with it below.