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Thesis Advisory Committee

The Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) oversees your thesis progress and final oral exam (thesis defense).

TAC composition

When developing your TAC, consider the following:

  • Your mentor serves as committee chair.
  • Identify three additional faculty members from at least two different clinical research disciplines.
  • Identify one member with expertise in statistics, epidemiology or study design.
  • It is desirable to have a member with basic science or translational laboratory expertise related to your project.

Additional TAC guidelines:

  • Members may not be co-investigator or co-author for your research except your mentor and statistician/epidemiologist.
  • All members, including ex-officio members, must have graduate faculty privileges in Mayo Graduate School. See Graduate Faculty Membership for details and Mayo Graduate School Forms (must be logged in to the Mayo network) for an updated list of faculty with privileges. CCaTS will assist in nominating qualified members.
  • 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.
  • Ex-officio members are non-voting members, therefore, may be co-investigator or co-author for your research.

TAC responsibilities

You are expected to meet with your TAC at least every six months after your proposal is approved to review your research progress. Submit a TAC progress report to the education specialist within one week following each meeting. This report summarizes the progress made to date and outlines the projected timeline and expectations for the next meeting.

Chair (your research mentor)

  • Meets regularly with you (weekly meetings are strongly recommended)
  • Guides you as you develop your protocol
  • Critically reviews your protocol (using the protocol review criteria)
  • Chairs TAC progress meetings every six months — these meetings include all committee members, with the first meeting scheduled six months after your protocol is approved by the CCaTS Postdoctoral Programs Committee
  • Reviews and approves TAC progress report after each TAC meeting
  • Guides you with your thesis development
  • Critically reviews your final thesis draft
  • Prepares questions for your Final Oral Examination (see section below)


  • Critically review your protocol (using the protocol review criteria as a resource)
  • Attend all TAC progress meetings
  • Sign progress meeting report forms
  • Critically review your final thesis draft
  • Assist the TAC chair in preparing oral examination 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 (your first meeting is scheduled within six months after approval of your thesis protocol)
  • Submits TAC progress report within one week of every meeting
  • Submits your thesis draft to your TAC six to eight weeks before your Final Oral Examination, allowing sufficient time for reviewing as well as time for any recommended revisions or additions
  • Submits your final thesis draft to CCaTS at least four weeks before your scheduled thesis defense date

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.

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

Following each meeting, complete a progress meeting report form within one week of the meeting. Once the form has been reviewed by all members, submit to the education specialist. The form is sent back to all TAC members and you (the scholar) for electronic signatures via DocuSign.

Note: Failure to hold progress meetings and submit summaries may result in your being placed on academic probation or recommended for dismissal.

Final Oral Examination (thesis defense)

  • Assesses the scholar's understanding of the science and the methodological issues involved in the research
  • Includes re-evaluation of knowledge in areas of weakness as identified on the Written Comprehensive 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.

  • Feb 2, 2015
  • ART237982