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Thesis Advisory Committee

With your thesis proposal, you must submit the Master's Thesis Advisory Committee form. On this form, you'll recommend the members of your Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), a group which will oversee your thesis progress and Final Oral Examination (thesis defense). Your proposed committee must be approved by the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee and Mayo Graduate School.

TAC composition

When developing your Thesis Advisory Committee, consider these points.

  • Your mentor should serve as committee chair.
  • You need a minimum of three additional faculty members from at least two different clinical research disciplines.
  • You are encouraged to have at least one member with expertise in statistics, epidemiology or study design.
  • It's desirable, but not required, that you have a member with basic science or translational laboratory expertise related to your project.

Additional TAC guidelines:

  • None of the members can be a co-investigator or co-author for your research (except for your mentor), unless that member is a statistician or epidemiologist.
  • All members must have graduate faculty privileges in Mayo Graduate School.
  • The chair of the committee and at least one other member must have at least master's level graduate faculty privileges in Mayo Graduate School.
  • No more than two members may have Teaching/Examining graduate faculty privileges in Mayo Graduate School.
  • Current master's or certificate scholars may not serve on another scholar's committee.

TAC responsibilities

You should meet with your TAC at least every six months to review your research progress. A TAC Progress Meeting Report form documenting member attendance, summarizing the progress made to date, and outlining the projected timeline and expectations for the next meeting should be signed by you, your mentor and the other committee members and submitted to the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee.

Different members of your TAC have different responsibilities:

Chair (your research mentor)

  • Meets regularly with you (weekly meetings are strongly recommended)
  • Submits quarterly progress reports to the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee addressing items such as productivity, organizational ability and responsiveness to criticism
  • Guides you as you develop your protocol
  • Critically reviews your protocol (using the protocol review criteria as a resource)
  • Signs the Recommended Action on Thesis Protocol for Master's Degree form
  • Chairs TAC progress meetings every six months, at which you and all committee members should be present (the first meeting should be six months after your protocol is approved by the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee)
  • Submits a progress meeting report form summarizing every TAC meeting
  • Guides you with regard to thesis development
  • Critically reviews your final thesis draft
  • Prepares questions for your Final Oral Examination (see section below)


Note: Failure to attend progress meetings may result in loss of Mayo Graduate School faculty privileges in clinical and translational science.

Scholar (you)

  • Anticipates and meets all due dates and deadlines
  • Schedules TAC progress meetings at least every six months, with the first meeting taking place six months after approval of your thesis protocol
  • Ensures submission of the progress meeting summary within two weeks of every meeting date
  • At least six weeks prior to the anticipated thesis defense date, submits a final thesis draft to the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee for review and approval to proceed to the Final Oral Examination
  • Allows sufficient time prior to the proposed date of the Final Oral Examination for CCaTS review of the final thesis draft and completion of any recommended revisions or additions

TAC progress meetings

Progress meetings enable you and your TAC to collectively monitor your research project, as well as informally evaluate your progress toward achieving the program's core competencies.

Your first TAC meeting should be held six months after your protocol is approved by the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee. Follow-up meetings should be held every six months until completion of a successful Final Oral Examination.

Following each meeting, your TAC chair must complete a progress meeting report form, which must then be signed by you and all your TAC members and submitted to the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee.

This progress report may include, but is not limited to:

  • The names of the TAC members in attendance at the meeting
  • Status of data collection
  • Projected timeline to complete data collection
  • Projected timeline for analysis
  • Any issues that may have arisen
  • The projected date the thesis draft will be ready for CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee review
  • The projected final defense date

Note: Failure to hold progress meetings and submit summaries will result in your being placed on academic probation. If delinquency continues, you may be dismissed from the Postdoctoral Master's Degree Program.

Final Oral Examination (thesis defense)

  • Assesses the scholar's understanding of the science and the methodological issues involved in the research
  • Should include re-evaluation of knowledge in areas of weakness as identified on the Comprehensive Written Examination
  • May include questions on:
    • Study design methodology
    • Statistical methodology
    • Implications of the results on clinical practice
    • Future studies that could be designed
    • Impact that this study has on the scholar's future research career

Read more about the thesis defense.

  • Sep 25, 2013
  • ART237982