Dec 07, 2022  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Graduate Student Advisory Committees


Advisor

What is a Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)?

Graduate Advisory Committee Composition and Guidelines

Changes to the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)

 

 

Advisor

Students are assigned a pro tem advisor by their graduate program at the time of admission into the Graduate College. The advisor is typically the graduate coordinator or another graduate faculty member selected by the department.

Some degree programs (all thesis and dissertation tracks, and some others) require students to convene a GAC. Once admitted into the program, it is the responsibility of the student to personally select an advisor to serve as chair of their GAC and to find appropriate faculty members to fulfill the other required roles on the GAC.

 

What is a Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)?

GACs are mandatory for master’s theses, professional doctoral projects, and doctoral dissertations. Programs with other culminating experiences may opt to require a GAC, and if so, this information must be in the Graduate Catalog and program handbook to inform students of this requirement. 

The GAC is responsible for guiding the student through the graduate program; assisting the student with their professional paper, projects, thesis, or dissertation; and administering the final examination or culminating experience. 

The primary purpose of the GAC is to train, support, socialize, and educate graduate students via the mentorship model; to promote excellence in research/scholarship/creative activity; ensure full compliance with the norms of the discipline and ethical conduct of research/scholarship and creative activity; elevate students to the successful completion of their culminating experience in a timely manner; and to prepare them for career success. 

Not all graduate degree programs require the appointment of an advisory committee. Students should consult with their advisor to determine whether or not an advisory committee is necessary. All departmental members of the committee should have expertise in the student’s research area. Master’s and doctoral students must submit the Appointment of Advisory Committee form to the Graduate College before establishing the degree program and before submitting their Prospectus Approval or Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy forms

The Graduate College must approve the GCR, and all advisory committee members on the Appointment of Advisory Committee form, before students proceed to work with their advisory committee, sit for exams, defend a prospectus, or otherwise participate in any milestone event involving their advisory committee. ​

 

 

Graduate Advisory Committee Composition and Guidelines

The following guidelines explain GAC requirements and ensure graduate program rigor and ongoing regional accreditation:

  • The GAC is always composed of a minimum of four graduate faculty filling specific committee roles and responsibilities. These mandatory GAC positions are one chair, two department/school members, and one GCR as described below.
    • Chair: Chairs must have GFS with appropriately approved chair privileges in the student’s home department/school. This person is the primary advisor and mentor for the student and guarantor of quality and excellence in the final document and defense. This includes but is not limited to:
      • maintaining high standards of disciplinary excellence;
      • providing strategic advisement and mentorship to students to help them progress in a timely and successful manner through their graduate programs;
      • overseeing high-quality, original, rigorous and ethical research;
      • making sure that the student is aware of, prepared for, and meets all required program milestones and university requirements over their student lifecycle;
      • advising students on critical professional development skills and opportunities that align with their career goals and pathways;
      • serving as the Principal Investigator in IRB applications for thesis/dissertation studies per UNLV policies; also see information Policies and Procedures on the Protection of Research Subjects in Safety and Emergency Information;
      • and preparing students to successfully defend a well-written and appropriately formatted final document.
    • Two department/school committee members: Department/school committee members must have GFS with committee rights in the student’s home department/school. GAC members are also responsible for:
      • maintaining high standards of disciplinary excellence;
      • supporting the GAC chair to provide strategic advisement and mentorship to students to help them progress in a timely and successful manner through their graduate programs;
      • overseeing high-quality, original, rigorous and ethical research;
      • coordinating with the GAC chair to make sure that the student is aware of, prepared for, and meets all required program milestones and university requirements over their student lifecycle;
      • advising students on critical professional development skills and opportunities that align with their career goals and pathways; 
      • and helping to prepare students to successfully defend a well-written and appropriately formatted final document.
    • GCR: Must have GFS with approved GCR rights at UNLV. Faculty holding GFS in the student’s home department/school may also serve as GCR ONLY IF the faculty’s primary GFS affiliation is outside of the students’ home department. See  GFS Privileges Table and Graduate College Representative section for additional guidelines regarding the role of the GCR. The Graduate College must approve the GCR, and all advisory committee members on the Appointment of Advisory Committee form before students proceed to work with their advisory committee, sit for exams, defend a prospectus, or otherwise participate in any milestone event involving their advisory committee.
  • In addition to the above, students may opt to add extra members to their GAC:
    • Co-Chair: Must have GFS at UNLV (with chair privileges designation- GFS Privileges Table). This person shares advising responsibilities with the other co-chair (see The Graduate Faculty ).
    • Additional Committee Member to a Full GAC: Must hold GFS at UNLV. An additional committee member added to a full GAC may be a faculty/staff/postdoc, lecturer, part-time instructor (PTI), FIR, or PIR in any graduate/professional program at UNLV; may be an academic faculty member at another university; or may be a highly esteemed and accomplished community member with documented expertise in the student’s area of study. Additional members solely holding “Extra GAC Member-only” designation (Level 7 in GFS Privileges Table) are non-voting members on the GAC (see The Graduate Faculty ).
  • Faculty must hold a terminal degree from the same or a very closely related discipline in which they chair or serve as a department/school committee member for master’s or doctoral students.
    • Case-by-case exceptions may be permitted depending on context (e.g. a DDS chairing an oral biology master’s degree, law professor serving on a Criminal Justice Ph.D., committee, etc.).
    • Graduate faculty with non-research-based terminal degrees may not solo chair committees for students earning research degrees; they must co-chair with a faculty member holding a Ph.D. or Ed.D. 
  • The GAC chair and department/school committee members must be active researchers/scholars/performers and have some experience or demonstrated capacity to successfully advise graduate students.
  • Graduate faculty who have never chaired a GAC before should have a faculty mentor in their department who consults with them to ensure full and successful execution of GAC chair duties and strong student mentorship.
  • GAC chairs and department/school committee members are responsible for ensuring that the student is well-advised, progresses at an appropriate pace, and completes their degree after successful defense of a rigorous, original, high-quality thesis, project, or dissertation. The GAC must ensure student compliance with university requirements and appropriate, ethical, disciplinary standards, and practices. Final documents must be formatted correctly and consistently using the conventional format common to the student’s field of study and should conform to the discipline’s standard publishing format (e.g., APA, ASA, MLA, Chicago style, etc.), and also must reflect Graduate College thesis/dissertation formatting requirements.
  • GCRs on the GAC must have GCR privileges in order to serve in this capacity.
    • GCR privileges require that the faculty member have a terminal degree in their field, be employed full-time in a tenured/tenure-track faculty position or a multi-year contract at UNLV, knowledgeable about all policies and procedures, and hold GFS in a graduate degree-granting department/school at UNLV.
    • The role of the GCR is to be a representative of the Graduate College on the committee, and fully up-to-date on all the policies, procedures, and best practices of student mentorship. The GCR represents the university on committees, and as such must:
      • mediate as necessary to ensure appropriate, fair, and equitable treatment of students and graduate faculty on the GAC;
      • ensure appropriate standards of scholarly conduct and research ethics are upheld;
      • Attest, to the best of their ability, that the final document is:
        • original;
        • academically rigorous;
        • publication-quality, particularly if serving on a doctoral GAC;
        • well-written;
        • and appropriately formatted (per both the applicable style guide, e.g. APA or other conventions per student’s area of study and UNLV thesis/dissertation formatting requirements).
    • GCRs may have substantive expertise related to some or all of the student’s projects, but this is not required because their role on the GAC is to ensure general rigor, quality of writing, propriety, fairness, and compliance with all university policies and processes.
  • Any concerns witnessed by anyone on a GAC should be reported to the Graduate College dean or associate dean, and if necessary, also simultaneously to the appropriate office on campus (e.g. Compliance, IRB, Student Conduct, Risk Management, Disability Resources, etc.).

 

 

Changes to the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)

It is not uncommon for GAC membership to change for a variety of reasons, including faculty leaving UNLV. If a student needs to replace any members of a GAC, this can be done easily with the Change of Advisory Committee Form in the Grad Rebel Gateway. Please see more information here. (see also: Student Forms )

Students who have an approved Appointment of Advisory Committee Form on file with a need to change the composition of the committee must complete and submit the Change of Advisory Committee Form. Change requests must still adhere to all GAC requirements.

Students have a right to change their committees as they see fit, however, all ethical and professional rules and guidelines governing research data, creative activities, funded projects, must be considered and followed. Also, please note that when a student requests a change of advisory committee immediately after a failed exam or defense, and prior to the retaking of said exam or defense, the department and/or academic dean and Graduate College dean may not allow the committee change until the current milestone exam or defense is completed, or the student may need to start the process over with their new committee.

 

 

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