Graduate advisory committees and advisors

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Request an external committee member

Experts outside of the University of Minnesota who do not hold any faculty appointments at the University are eligible to serve on graduate students’ advisory and examination committees, except in the roles of advisor or chair. An outside member must bring scientific expertise to the committee that cannot be found among the faculty at the University of Minnesota. See UMN policy.

Requests for an external committee member follow a formal process.

  1. The student and their advisor email to the program's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC):
  2. The DGS reviews the request and recommends to approve or deny the appointment.
  3. If the DGS approves the request, they sign the External Committee Member Request form and email the whole packet to the CBS Associate Dean for Graduate Students and Postdocs, requesting approval of the appointment, copying the CBS College Coordinator for Graduate Students and Postdocs.
  4. If the Associate Dean supports the appointment, they sign the form and return it to the program’s DGS and GPC, copying the College Coordinator
  5. The program’s GPC works with CBS Human Resources to get the external member set up in the UMN system, so the student can formally add the external member to their committee. (See a template, below, “Email to CBS HR.”)
  6. CBS Human Resources will enter the committee member as a “person of interest” into PeopleSoft, with the external committee member's full name, birth date, and a current mailing address, and notify your GPC of the individual’s UMN ID number and X.500 (i.e., UMN internet ID/email).
  7. The GPC should then contact the external committee member with information on how to claim their UMN internet ID/email account, so they can log in to digitally sign academic process documents, such as the exam forms and the reviewer’s report form. (See a template, below, “Email to the external committee member.”)
    • NOTE! All external committee members MUST claim their UMN email accounts in order to receive communication from UMN systems (i.e., the wfgen and training systems) and access online forms.

NOTE! Any costs associated with traveling to the UMN campus to participate in committee meetings or exams must be borne by the external faculty member or the student’s lab.

Advisor or committee member retires or leaves UMN

If your advisor or a committee member retires or leaves the University of Minnesota, they are eligible to continue serving as your advisor/committee member.

Your advisor or committee member and you must agree to this continuation in writing. 

If your advisor is the one leaving, this agreement should outline:

  • your advisor’s continued responsibility to you;
  • on-campus partners for you (e.g., co-advisor, advisory committee, lab collaborators, DGS);
  • to whom you are accountable;
  • the source and duration of continued funding support; and
  • a timeline for degree completion.

Use a sample memo as a starting point for this agreement.

Submit this agreement to your Graduate Program Coordinator and to CBS College Coordinator for Graduate Programs (Sara Eliason,

See the UMN policy on Eligibility to Serve on Graduate Examination Committees