Step 3: Identify Committee Chair


  • To select full-time counseling faculty member who agrees to sit as your dissertation committee chair.


  • Investigate counseling faculty research interests via the Faculty and Staff website on the School of Psychology & Counseling web pages, or by reviewing the Faculty Research Interests table handed out during residency, or by talking to faculty either in person at residency or telephone, or communicate by email. Information can also be easily found on each professor's biography page
  • Make an appointment to talk with several faculty who have similar interests as yours and discuss your dissertation topic ideas with them.
  • Decide who would be the best faculty person for your dissertation topic and ask that faculty person to sit as your chair.


John's Experience:

John has been in contact with several professors about his topic area. He has talked with Dr. Jim Sells already and knows he is very interested in his topic. He asks him to be his committee chair. John also asks Dr. George Jefferson and Dr. Parker to be on his dissertation committee. He was glad he had talked to fellow students and others during his first year of the program about possible dissertation topics. Now he could articulate his ideas in an organized way to the faculty and be able to make a slight shift in his topic to match something that Dr. Sells was already doing research in.

Pitfalls to Avoid:

  • Don't wait too late to select your chair. Faculty have limitations on the number of committees they can chair (no more than 5 at a time), so secure your committee chair early.
  • Don't pick a topic that no faculty member has a research interest in. Talk to faculty early about their research interests to determine who has a general area of interest that coincides with your own and set an appointment (at residency or by telephone, email, or in person) to discuss possible topics.
  • Don't expect a faculty member to come up with a dissertation topic for you. Be prepared to discuss your research and ideas with faculty from an informed standpoint.