Special Certification for Outside Committee Members

Doctoral students are required to have four committee members for the dissertation committee. One of these four committee members must be from outside the department. Outside members bring a unique and different perspective to the student's specialization and thus are members of other departments, usually (but not always) within Purdue University.

Faculty who are, or who have previously been, members of the HDFS department may serve as departmental representatives on committees, but not as outside members for a period of three years after leaving the department. After three years, such faculty may serve on a student's committee as an outside member. Advisors who leave Purdue for any reason can no longer serve as committee chair. However, they can serve as co-chair of the PhD, for up to two years, as long as the other co-chair is a current faculty member in the student's specialization area.

Committee members (doctoral and master's) from outside the University must document that they are active scholars and thus qualified for committee membership. A copy of their vita plus a "Request for Special Certification" form must be submitted to the Graduate School. Special certification must be granted prior to service on a committee. Therefore, the student must provide the graduate secretary with:

  • a copy of their person's vita as early as possible (as an email attachment)
  • a statement indicating why the person should serve on their committee and what unique contributions this person can bring to the committee
  • contact information (address, phone, fax, email) for this person

Students need to be aware that 50 percent of their advisory committee and thesis/dissertation committee must have regular (as opposed to special) certification. All Purdue HDFS graduate faculty have regular certification.

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