Advising relationships are basic to the department’s graduate program. A student’s departmental committee is composed of an Advisor (Sponsor) and two committee members. By the beginning of the second year relationships with these three advisors should be formalized and reported to the Graduate Secretary on the appropriate form with the faculty signatures. Although continuity is desirable in advising relationships, students may change the membership of their committees and faculty members likewise are free to remove themselves from committees. Such changes also must be reported to the Graduate Secretary. Oversight for the advising system is provided by the Director of Graduate Studies.
A committee is expected to provide tailored advice and support concerning such matters as course selection, language training and graduate teaching, together with general intellectual guidance and critical input in preparation for a professional career. Based on their particular interests and objectives, students may be advised concerning possible sources of funding and the gamut of possible careers, ranging from the multi-field generalist to one of the many types of specialization. Committee members also will prepare letters of reference and recommendation in support of advisee applications of the various types.
At the end of each academic year, the annual faculty meeting for the evaluation of students represents the collective effort of the faculty to monitor progress through the graduate program. In advance of this meeting (usually held in late May) students should communicate with their committee members, seek letters of recommendation as necessary, and check their academic records for accuracy.
At Columbia the dissertation defense committee is not the same thing as the student's departmental dissertation committee. A dissertation defense committee consists of three faculty members from within the student's department and two outsiders. The defense committee is convened after the dissertation has been approved for defense by the three members of the departmental committee. Thus, the departmental committee, consisting of three faculty members from within the anthropology department (including the sponsor), is the group with whom you work on your dissertation. You may include faculty from other departments in addition to the three internal committee members as faculty with whom you work on a regular basis, and up to two of these may serve as outside readers on the defense committee.
You may have any full-time faculty member (in anthropology), tenured or non-tenured, as your sponsor. It is advisable that a committee consists of at least one tenured faculty member and includes individuals with relevant areal and theoretical expertise. GSAS rules provide that dissertation sponsors who for some reason leave the University may continue in their role as sponsors. The University will pay airfare for a dissertation sponsor who is no longer employed at the University, but only for the sponsor. Other committee members who have left the University may serve as insiders on the committee but their airfares are not covered.
Students must select the three members of their committee by April of their second academic year. Mandatory meetings of students and their committees will be scheduled for a general review of each student’s progress. The purpose of these meetings is to lay the groundwork for the third year by discussing the viability and development of potential ethnographic projects for dissertation research. Preparations will be made for Advanced Certifying Exams (ACEs) and for writing grant proposals and the prospectus.
See: Forms https://hypercontent.columbia.edu/anthropology/graduate/resources/forms/committee.html?mode=interactive