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Committee Meetings

The Department requires that the student and supervisor will hold progress reviews with the entire Thesis Committee at least once a year. These meetings help to ensure satisfactory progress towards the student’s intended defense and graduation dates by ensuring seamless communication across the entire Thesis Committee on the student’s aims, progress, and any issues encountered during their thesis research trajectory.

Students must present at least four Committee Meetings:

Annual Thesis Committee Meeting

This page details the format and preparation for Annual Thesis Committee Meetings, which is relevant for the Plan to Finish meeting as well.

Students are responsible for scheduling the meeting and reserving a room. The Committee should be scheduled for 1.5 hours. Students can contact the BE Academic Office for help reserving a conference room.

Progress Report Form

Prior to the meeting, students should fill out the Thesis Committee Progress form and bring hard copies for each Committee Member.


The first Annual Committee Meeting must be held within one year of the Thesis Proposal/Oral Exam presentation. Annual Committee Meetings are required once a year or more frequently if the Thesis Committee so requests. More frequent one-on-one meetings are strongly recommended.

While the Department recognizes that there may be extenuating circumstances leading to a delayed Annual Thesis Committee meeting, which do not merit withholding registration, the Department reserves the right to withhold registration if the one-year mark past the regular annual Committee meeting schedule has passed. This circumstance implies that two years have elapsed since the last regular Thesis Committee meeting, all e-mail reminders and meeting attempts have failed to realize a subsequent meeting, and the Graduate Committee has determined that withholding registration is in the best interest of the student.


One week prior to each Committee Meeting, the student is encouraged to share an annotated set of Specific Aims with their Committee Members. The annotated Specific Aims should be approximately one to two pages long (12 pt font), with a few sentences describing the status of each Aim and a Gantt Chart showing the anticipated timelines for their completion.

Students should prepare a presentation outlining the progress they have made towards accomplishing their research aims. Students should also plan to discuss career goals and a timeline to graduation.

Students are encouraged to hand out hardcopies of their presentation slides to their Thesis Committee Members, including a summary of their Specific Aims.

Meeting Format

The Department encourages in-person meetings with all Committee members present whenever possible. Committee meetings are run by the Chair of the Thesis Committee. The specific format of the meeting is described below:

  • Start of meeting:
    • Student leaves room: Committee checks in with advisor(s)
    • Advisor(s) leave room: Committee checks in with student
  •  Body of Meeting:
    • Bullet-point overview of progress toward PhD accomplishments, goals, anticipated timeline
    • Specific issues to be addressed
    • Anticipated career trajectory
    • Detailed scientific progress
      • Including risks and alternate pathways 
      • Publication plan
  •  Close of Meeting:
    • Reiteration of PhD objectives and anticipated timeline