USC Price School of Public Policy

Guidance Committee

In the Price School of Public Policy, students are required to form a guidance committee upon passing the screening exam. The commitee oversees the development of the student’s academic program through the qualifying examination.

» Committee Faculty Members
» Committee Responsibilities
» Changes in Guidance Committee
» Additional Information

Committee Faculty Members
The guidance committee is composed of at least five members; a minimum of three, including at least one tenured member, must be from the student’s home department and one must be a faculty member from outside the student’s home department.

Normally, all members of the guidance-dissertation committee must be regular officers of instruction of the rank of assistant professors or above in departments offering the Ph.D. degree at USC.

The committee member from outside the department is defined as a person from a discipline different from that of the student’s department and whose own department affiliation is different from that of the student. A faculty member who holds a joint appointment in the student’s department may only serve as an outside member when the primary appointment is in an outside department or school. The outside member serves as the representative of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs. As such, the outside member determines if the qualifying examination and dissertation processes are conducted at a level that warrants awarding of the Ph.D. degree. The outside member also ensures that the student is justly and fairly treated by a committee and department. Finally, it is hoped that the outside member will contribute to the student’s preparation as a scholar.

Committee Responsibilities
The guidance committee has the responsibility for supervising the student’s program of studies and preparation for the qualifying examination, and the administration and evaluation of the written and oral parts of the qualifying examination. The committee continues to serve until the qualifying examination has been passed, the dissertation topic approved, and the student is admitted to candidacy.

Changes in Guidance Committee
The Graduate School provides a Change of Committee Form (PDF) which must be completed whenever a changes is made in the guidance committee. All such changes must be made in advance of the qualifying examinations. Informal substitutions for either the written or oral parts of the qualifying examination are not permitted. Changes in the guidance committee are not permitted between the written and oral portions of the examination. The examinations must be scheduled at times when it is possible for all members of the committee, including the outside member, to participate. Changes made without the prior approval of the graduate School are not recognized and may result in the invalidation of the examination.

A student may not change committee members after failing the qualifying examination the first time. The student must be reexamined by the same faculty on the same subject matter. If a faculty member is unable to serve on the committee (for example, due to serious illness, retirement or transfer to another institution), the Graduate School must be notified in writing in advance of the rescheduled exam in order to approve the change. The faculty replacement must be approved by the Graduate School, and the student must file a Change of Committee Form (PDF) well in advance of the exam.

Additional Information
For additional information, please go to the Graduate School Policies and Requirements page in the USC Catalogue.