4.5 The Program of Study Committee and the POSC Form (PhD)

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PhD students establish their Program of Study Committee and submit the online Graduate College Program of Study and Committee (POSC) Form via their AccessPlus account along with the appropriate Degree Planning Sheet (DPS) and other required POS documentation by the announced deadline in the appropriate semester. The Graduate Program Administrative Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) will post the deadline on our Deadlines website (typically in the 6th week of the semester).

5th semester of coursework for PhD graduate assistants (GAs)

(upon completion of 36 POS credit hours after entry into the graduate program for non-GA PhD graduate students)

4.5.1 Program of Study Committee (PhD)

The PhD Program of Study (POS) committee consists of at least five Graduate Faculty members with a minimum of three of these members (including the major professor) being from within your major. Below are English Department specific requirements for the composition of the committee:

  • It must include three members, including the major professor, from your major area and within the Department of English at ISU.
  • It must include a fourth member, who can be from your major, from another major within the Department of English, or outside the Department of English.
  • It must include a fifth member from outside of your disciplinary area and outside the Department of English.

Other considerations:

  • A faculty member from a major area other than the student’s major may co-chair the committee.
  • The fourth or fifth member may be a non-ISU affiliated faculty member approved for Associate Graduate Faculty status at ISU. If you are interested in having a non-ISU faculty member on your committee, please discuss this option with your major professor early. Approval for a non-ISU faculty member as a committee member is not guaranteed, and doing so requires a formal approval process (through the Department of English and the Graduate College) to appoint that person as an Associate Graduate Faculty member.

Information about English Department Graduate Faculty members, their major areas which they can represent as major professors or as inside the major committee members, and their areas of research and teaching can be found in the Graduate Faculty Members section of this manual.

Selecting a committee

The POS committee is approved in your fifth semester (or equivalent—see above) in the program. Select members of your POS committee by talking to your assigned program advisor, your graduate instructors, and other graduate students to gather information. Your major professor’s primary responsibility will be supervising the development of your dissertation. Talk to prospective major professors and committee members before asking for a commitment. Discuss your research interests, their availability, and their willingness to serve on your committee. If possible, provide a brief written description of your potential research interests.

How the committee works

Your POS committee will assess your educational background, review your professional and educational objectives, and evaluate your research. It will guide you as you complete your coursework and is responsible for approving the coursework in your program of study (POS).

The POS committee meets according to the needs and wishes of you and your major professor. At the PhD level, it is likely that the POS committee will meet once to discuss your POS. The committee will also meet to administer and evaluate the preliminary examinations (both written and oral, to approve your prospectus for the dissertation, and to administer the dissertation defense (final oral examination). The committee may convene on other occasions as necessary or desirable.

4.5.2 Program of Study and Committee Form (POSC) and the Degree Planning Sheet (PhD)

To meet Graduate College requirements and officially establish your committee and program of study coursework, you complete the online Program of Study and Committee Form (POSC) in your AccessPlus account and submit it for approval by your POS committee members, the DOGE, and the Graduate College. This form represents an agreement between you and the Graduate College on your academic preparation for an advanced degree, establishes your POS committee, and documents the courses you have taken and will take for your graduate degree. It is a vital document for your graduation. Therefore, it is important that you, your major professor, POS committee members, and the DOGE catch errors so those errors won’t delay your graduation.

Because this POSC Form has so many components and must be accurate, we require you to complete an internal, departmental tool—the Degree Planning Sheet (DPS)—that will help you prepare to enter an accurate POSC Form.

The Degree Planning Sheet (DPS) essentially serves as a preparatory tool for completing the online POSC Form. The DPS is structured in a table format that follows the outline of course requirements listed in the section for your degree program in this manual. The DPS helps you, your POS committee, and the DOGE ensure that you fulfill each of the required categories in your degree program. On this form, you also list the names of your POS committee members who have agreed to be on your committee.

In addition, you may need to complete other required POS documentation (e.g., transfer credit petition, POS waiver/substitution petition, prerequisite equivalency petition, language requirement form) with the help of your major professor. The first and most important check of the DPS and other POS documentation is the responsibility of your major professor. You should review these forms very carefully with your major professor, checking to be sure that you fill in all the blanks and get all the necessary signatures. If your POSC includes expired courses, you must also complete the online Expired Course Petition.

By the announced deadline, you must submit electronic copies of the DPS and all POS documentation with required signatures (except for the DOGE) to the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) and also complete and submit for approval the online POSC Form (must click the “Validate Form” button at the bottom before the “Submit for Approval” button appears).

Not meeting the announced deadline and/or not checking your documents carefully before turning them in may negatively impact your ability to register on time (see Advising/Registration Holds).

If you have an assistantship, you may receive a notice indicating unsatisfactory progress if you have not submitted your DPS, POS documentation, and POSC Form by the announced deadline in your fourth semester, excluding summers. A Letter of Intent for your next academic term/year will not be issued or your tuition scholarship applied until you have submitted and correctly completed your required forms.

4.5.3 Committee and Program of Study changes (PhD): POSC modifications

Changing committee members

You may need to change the committee’s make-up if your research interests shift later or a committee member is no longer able to serve. Changes will depend upon

  • consent of the faculty member(s) to be added
  • agreement between you and your major professor
  • consent of the faculty member(s) being replaced
  • approval of the English Department’s DOGE

After your major professor and the faculty members to be added and replaced have consented to the change, it is a courtesy for you to make POS committee changes official as soon as you know they are necessary and certainly before faculty have performed large amounts of consulting and editing for you. Making changes promptly allows faculty to shift their time to other students seeking their input.

Changing your coursework

Once the DPS, necessary POS documentation, and the online POSC Form are approved by the DOGE, modifications can be made as necessary using the appropriate form(s) (i.e., transfer credit petitionPOS waiver/substitution petitionexpired course petition). New or revised English Department POS documentation must be submitted to the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant (englgrad@iastate.edu) to be approved by the DOGE. The POSC Form must be modified and resubmitted for approval in order to finalize the approval of any changes. Changes may be required by the Graduate College before you are allowed to graduate if coursework taken/taking does not agree with coursework listed on the most current approved POSC Form.

Changing your official POSC Form

You must make any changes to your approved POSC Form in your AccessPlus account.

  • Login to AccessPlus and go to your Grad Student Status page
  • Click on My POSC Form
  • Make changes as needed (click drop down menu for each item “Approved” for options to select such as “Drop” and “Add”)
  • Click the “Validate Form” button at the very bottom of the form  to see if the system finds any errors you need to fix (message in RED at the top)
  • Once everything is OK and no red message appears at the top, click the “Submit for Approval” button at the very bottom of the form to reroute it for approval of the changes
    (Note: changes must be approved by the Graduate College before a final oral examination is held)