Choosing a Faculty Advisor / Advisory Committee

The Academic Advisor and the Advisory Committee play a significant role in shaping each student’s graduate experience. The academic advisor is a member of the Advisory Committee and serves as its chair. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to support each student in achieving his or her goals of study through working with the student to design and approve a Plan of Study, providing advice, conducting required examinations, and regularly assessing the student's progress and accomplishments. Advisory Committee members indicate their commitment by signing the student’s Plan of Study.

  • At the M.S. level, a student’s choice of track (Industry or Research) determines who will serve on their Advisory Committee and the role of the committee in working with the student.
    • Industry Track students are advised by a standing faculty committee. of the Gradaute Guidebook.
    • Research Track students select and recruit a committee customized to support their specific research interests.

Specific requirements for either track can be found under the following section of the Graduate Guidebook:

MS Industry Track Advisory Committee

MS Research Track Advisory Committee

  • At the Ph.D. level, students are paired with a faculty champion who commits to serve as their advisor during the admissions process. The advisor and the student then work together to identify and recruit members of the Advisory Committee to support the student’s choice of topic and research methods. Specific requirements can be found in the Ph.D. Policy section of the Graduate Guidebook:

Doctoral Advisory Committee

Committee Selection Requirements and Conflicts of Interest

  • Members of the Advisory Committee may be from any academic unit at Virginia Tech, other universities, or industry. At least two of the faculty members on a student’s committee should be CAUS or COE faculty who are  approved to serve on advisory committees.
  • Please note that advisory committee composition must be reviewed and approved by the program chair.
  • Members of the Advisory Committee should be selected to provide subject matter or methodological expertise to support the student’s independent research and degree goals. The major advisor will work with each student to identify a strategy for choosing an advisory committee after defining the student’s independent research in greater detail.
  • Faculty are not permitted to serve as major advisor or committee member for individuals with whom they have a personal or professional conflict of interest (e.g., spouse, son, daughter, business associate, etc.).
  • Non­faculty personnel may be recommended for inclusion on a graduate student committees, but not as committee chairs. Such personnel should meet the standards of academic training and research experience expected of faculty members serving on such committees. Approval of the inclusion of non­faculty committee members is requested by the student's major advisor to the dean of the Graduate School. Graduate School approval is required of all non­faculty committee members, and particular advantages of such a nomination should be cited in the request to the Graduate School.
  • Non­faculty personnel shall make up no more than one­third of the total committee membership, may share thesis/dissertation supervision responsibilities, and enjoy voting rights and privileges. Non­faculty committee members will be listed by their professional titles and affiliations.
  • Graduate students may not serve on an advisory and/or examining committee.