After rotations have been completed, students select a thesis mentor (Thesis Affiliation Form). Students are encouraged to gather information from several sources, including consultations with faculty and current students, before choosing a thesis lab. Ph.D. students must be in a thesis laboratory by September 1 of their second year, MSTP students by September 1 of the first year of Ph.D. training. If a student is interested in pursuing their graduate studies with a faculty member who is not affiliated with DBBS, the student must identify a co-mentor who is affiliated with DBBS. Please refer to your program coordinator for more information.
By the fifth semester of graduate study, students establish a thesis committee and present a thesis proposal. The purpose of the thesis committee is to advise the student in his or her thesis research and to provide the student with a readily accessible source of advice and constructive criticism during the dissertation research. Students are not to bring food or drink for faculty during thesis committee meetings and thesis defense. The composition of thesis advisory committee requires approval from the respective Program Director, and the "Thesis Advisory Committee Approval Form" should be filled out (Thesis Advisory Committee Approval Form).
Dissertation Defense Committee Policy
The committee before which the student is examined consists of at least five members, who normally meet two independent criteria:
Four of the five must be tenured or tenure-track Washington University faculty; one of these four may be a member of the Emeritus faculty. The fifth member must have a doctoral degree and an active research program, whether at Washington University, at another university, in government, or in industry.
A minimum of three of the five must come from the student's degree program; at least one of the five must have an appointment outside of the student’s degree programs.
All committees must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School or by their designee, regardless of whether they meet the normal criteria.
Attendance by a minimum of four members of the Dissertation Defense Committee, including the committee chair and a faculty member from outside the student’s degree program, is required for the defense to take place. This provision is designed to permit your defense to proceed in case of a situation that unexpectedly prevents one of the five members from attending. Student’s must not schedule a dissertation defense at a time when only four members will be in attendance; the provision for defending in front of a committee of four will only be permitted if a committee member unexpectedly is unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. Note that the absence of the outside members or of the committee chair will necessitate rescheduling the defense.
Members of the Dissertation Defense Committee normally attend in person, but one of the five (or, in case of an emergency, one of the four) members may attend virtually (e.g., teleconference) instead.
Read individual program guidelines for specific requirements and "Satisfactory Academic Progress" below for detailed information.