A doctoral guidance committee is to be selected by the student no later than the eighth quarter of his/her studies. Composed of a committee chair, normally in the proposed period of specialization, and at least one or more faculty members in the department, this committee is in charge of directing the student up to the doctoral qualifying examinations and of administering these examinations. When established, the doctoral guidance committee will hold a meeting at which the student will propose a general topic for the dissertation. The student will follow the guidance committee's suggestions for possible additional coursework.

Prior to administering the doctoral qualifying examinations, the doctoral guidance committee is joined by at least one or more professors from the department in addition to one professor from another department. This group then becomes the doctoral examination committee.