The most important decision you will make is choosing a chairperson for your dissertation.

Some universities assign the student to a chairperson, or major advisor; in that case, the student has no decision to make. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most students are free to ask any faculty member to serve as their chairperson.

Many students put too little thought into the choice. Simply liking a certain faculty member is not reason enough to ask him/her to serve as a chairperson; he/she may behave very differently as a chair.

The chairperson should be selected based on the following criteria:

  • excellent rapport with you,
  • superior communication skills,
  • sincere interest in your topic,
  • good mentoring skills,
  • a philosophy of dissertation writing compatible with yours,
  • a genuine belief in your potential,
  • a commitment to your success,
  • availability to you via telephone and/or e-mail, and
  • good quality relationships with the other members of your committee.

Putting serious thought into whom you select as a chair will make a dramatic difference in not only the quality of your completed dissertation but also the time and process to completion.

I hope you find this information helpful. Thank you.


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