How to Ask a Professor to Sit on Your Dissertation Committee

Graduate study is a sequence of challenges. First, you have to get in. Then you need to write your coursework and prepare for comprehensive exams. Once you’ve demonstrated that you’re ready to start working on your dissertation, you’re already a doctoral candidate. At this point, you’re going to realize that, no matter how difficult comprehensive exams and coursework were, it’s nothing compared to a dissertation. Most students agree that writing a dissertation is the most difficult task in graduate school. Now you need to demonstrate that you’re a scholar who can not only analyze and summarize the existing knowledge but also generate new knowledge, and your dissertation committee becomes very important. Check out these tips at blog so that you can successfully go through this process.

Choosing a Dissertation Committee

Prepare for the fact that choosing a helpful dissertation committee will be a difficult process. The committee must include faculty members who are interested in your topic and have useful and diverse areas of expertise. Every member of the committee must be carefully selected based on the specifics of your project. It’s important to understand how each member can contribute. Besides, they should get along with you well. You should also maintain a balance. On the one hand, you don’t need to argue over every detail. On the other hand, you need some objective critique and useful advice. Make sure that the members of your dissertation committee actually care about your best interests. Choose people who you like and who respect you. These people should also have enough time to participate in the committee. Even if not all of the members fulfill all of your professional needs, make sure that each one of them fulfills at least one need.

Talk to Your Mentor

We suggest that you work with your mentor to choose committee members. Ask him or her about different professors and listen to their feedback so that you can find a good candidate. Keep in mind that professors also talk to each other so they are likely to mention your words when talking to the potential members of the committee. Pay your attention to your mentor’s reactions so that you can decide whether you should approach a particular professor.

State Your Intentions Clearly

Perhaps, you think that each professor knows that you’d like to see them in the committee. We recommend that you don’t rely on such assumptions and meet with professors, clearly explaining your intentions. Make sure to explain the reasons why you’ve chosen them for your dissertation committee.


Nobody will agree to participate in your project without knowing the necessary details about it. Get ready to explain your project and to answer various questions. You should be able to explain the main questions and methods of your study. Consider your work in the context of the existing research materials on your topic. Some professors will want to know more about your project, while others may want to know less so pay attention to their demeanor.

Explain Their Role

As we’ve already mentioned above, you should also be able to explain why you’re approaching a particular professor. What do you like about them? What guidance do you need? What kind of expertise is useful for your project? Be ready to explain why you think that professor A is a better choice than professor B. You should also explain how much time they will need to dedicate to your project.

Dealing with Rejection

Some professors will decline your invitation so you should prepare for it. Don’t take it personally and try to consider the situation from the professor’s perspective. They may not be interested in the topic of your study or they may have some issues with other members of the dissertation committee. Besides, participating in the committee takes a lot of time and effort — professors may be too busy to accept your invitation. Be grateful that they are honest with you and keep in mind that it’s not necessarily about you. The success of your dissertation depends not only on you but also on the committee members so make sure that all of them are actually interested in it and are able to help you.

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