The doctoral program gives students many choices and opportunities. Students are encouraged to discuss their plans and seek advice from faculty members and other graduate students as they make decisions. While students may consult anyone on questions of curriculum, research methods, and other program aspects, they will establish a more formal relationship with their Advisor.

New students are assigned a faculty member who will serve as their Advisor when they are admitted to the program. Students are free to change their Advisor as they progress through the program and their research interests become more clearly defined. Students consult with their Advisor in order to develop a program of study. All courses, for example, are chosen in consultation with the Advisor. The iSchool office (Penny Ames) and the Doctoral Studies Committee (DSC) must be notified of changes of advisors.

For the dissertation proposal defense and the final dissertation defense, special committees are constituted according to Illinois Graduate College rules. These committees are called the Preliminary Examination Committee and the Dissertation Committee, respectively. The membership of these committees, however, is usually similar.


  • Annual Review Committee: This committee consists of two iSchool faculty members: the student's Advisor, who serves as chair, and one additional faculty member who serves in consultation with the student's Advisor. After the annual review meeting, the Advisor submits the review to Penny Ames and the DSC, and the DSC issues a formal progress letter in early summer.
  • Field Exam Committee: This committee consists of three core iSchool faculty members. At least one of the three members will be an assigned member of the Doctoral Studies Committee (DSC), and the student's Advisor may serve as member of the Field Exam Committee. Field Exam Committee members should be drawn from faculty with expertise in the student's exam field. The DSC member can be from outside of the core field.
  • Preliminary Examination Committee: This committee consists of a minimum of four voting members. At least three members must be members of the UIUC Graduate Faculty and at least two members must be tenured. One faculty member from a department other than the iSchool is strongly recommended. The committee can include one or more qualified members from other institutions who can contribute needed expertise to the committee, as long as there are three other members who are UIUC
    Graduate Faculty.
  • Dissertation Committee: This committee has a minimum of four members. At least three members of the committee must be members of the UIUC Graduate Faculty; at least two members of the committee must be tenured. This committee is usually, but not necessarily, composed of the same members as the Preliminary Examination Committee.


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