Thesis Committees

A Thesis Committee composed of the research advisor and at least two other faculty members is appointed at the beginning of the second year for each graduate student in the program.  The role of the Thesis Committee includes monitoring progress toward the PhD degree, participating in oral examinations, and conducting the final evaluation of the doctoral thesis.

As the first step toward selecting a Thesis Committee, second-year students meet with their research advisors early in the fall to discuss which faculty might be appropriate as members of their committee.  Thesis committees must be composed of at least two other MIT faculty besides your advisor. Your thesis committee chair must be from the department and in your area of chemistry (chemical biology, inorganic, organic, or physical). It is required that you propose at least three faculty members as candidates for your committee in addition to your advisor.  The form must be signed by your research advisor to confirm that he or she agrees that the faculty members listed are appropriate.  The nomination form must be submitted to the Chemistry Education Office (6-205) by Friday, September 14, 2018 and are then reviewed by the Chair of the Chemistry Graduate Committee and a faculty advisory group who assign final committees based on the faculty you and your advisor have proposed.  They will also choose one of these faculty members to be your Thesis Committee Chair.  This process is necessary to avoid the past problem of some faculty being assigned to an inordinately large number of committees. 

Thesis Committee Nomination Form

Students wishing subsequently to change their thesis committee, for reasons including significant changes in the direction of their research topic, should email Jennifer Weisman ( with the reason for requesting a change. Students must receive a positive response from the Chemistry Education Office in order for the change in committee to take effect.  Since changes in Thesis Committee membership can only be granted in unusual circumstances, students should contact the members of their committee to schedule the date for their oral defense well in advance of when they expect to complete their dissertation.

In the second year, each student's research progress and intellectual development is evaluated through the Oral Examination, and no other meeting with the full Thesis Committee is normally required.  If a division requires an examination after the second year, thesis committee members also meet then. Students (and research advisors) may arrange an additional meeting of the Thesis Committee in special circumstances by contacting the chair of the committee. Additionally, beginning in the second year of graduate study, each student meets with the Chair of his or her Thesis Committee at least once during the fall semester. More information about this annual meeting is available here.

Please note that if you are conducting research outside the department your thesis committee must be composed of at least two other MIT faculty besides your advisor and both must be from the Department of Chemistry. As noted above, your thesis committee chair must be in your area of chemistry (chemical biology, inorganic, organic, or physical).