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PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision: Get started: best practices for finding a committee

Formulate your research idea

It is important to have a very clear idea of your topic as well as a rationale for your proposed study that is grounded in current empirical findings. You will develop a problem statement, which articulates the issue along with the gap in the literature and how the proposed study is pertinent to the profession of counseling or counselor education.  You will establish a purpose statement, related research questions and hypotheses, and a proposed methodology that is appropriate for your study. 

Identifying a committee

You may form a committee up to two quarters prior to when you plan to enroll in dissertation and formally start the process.  You should first develop a dissertation premise.  (insert link to premise guide) to assist you with shopping  for a committee.  Your committee must come from the School of Counseling but may come from any of the MS counseling programs or the CES core or contributing faculty.

When you are ready to search for a committee, you will send your premise along with an email inquiry of their interest and availability to faculty you identify as a potential committee chair.

  • Do not send a mass email to all faculty members and do not ask faculty members more than two quarters in advance as unforeseen commitments may interfere with their ability to serve at a date beyond two quarters.  
  • Write an individually tailored note to each faculty member to whom you are going to send your request for mentorship.
  • Several requests may be sent at the same time instead of sending one request to a prospective faculty member and waiting until you hear back from that faculty to send another request.  Keep track of all the faculty that you contact, including their responses or note the lack of a response.
  • You may send follow up emails if faculty are delayed more than 1 calendar week in responding.
  •  When you contact prospective faculty, emphasize your shared interest area, content and/or methodological match so you can ‘sell’ faculty on your proposed research idea. The more you can describe and articulate your study in-depth (via a scholarly written premise), the more likely it is that faculty will consider being your mentor.
  • Be sure that your writing is of the highest quality. If your email and attached prospectus contain inaccuracies, typos, grammatical errors, etc., faculty will be less likely or unwilling to accept your invitation for mentorship. You may seek assistance from the writing center on this matter prior to sending out your prospectus

Please note that if a faculty member declines your request to participate on your committee, do not take it personally.  Every faculty member must manage a workload and it takes significant time to be a mentor at Walden.  

After securing a chair, you can work with your chair to identify options for a member.  Both your chair and your member will need a specified role on the committee.  One will serve as the content expert and one will serve as the methodologist.  Either member can serve in either role.

 If your efforts to secure faculty are unsuccessful, you may contact the Program Director, Dr. Colleen Logan, to assist in identifying options for potential committee members.  Please have a list of faculty that you have attempted to contact available for reference when you ask for assistance. 

Formalizing your committee

Once you have identified your chair and/or committee member, send them the committee nomination form. 

  • You will complete the top portion of the form and the member s will sign the form and submit it to the research office. 
  • Your proposed committee must be approved by the CES Program Director (or designee).
  •  If the committee is approved, you will be informed via email. 
  • Until you receive formal confirmation of approval, your committee is not official.

Although your design will solidify as you work directly with a committee and become an expert in the literature on your topic of interest, a scholarly content foundation is something that faculty looks for when determining whether they are able or qualified to chair a particular dissertation or sit on a committee. Faculty members are frequently hesitant to agree to chair a dissertation or sit as a committee member if your idea is vague, ill-defined or has questionable feasibility. Please familiarize yourself with the kinds of studies and methodologies that are acceptable at Walden University prior to proposing your design to a faculty member.

Dissertation enrollment

CES students may begin dissertation upon enrollment in COUN 8895 Doctoral Internship.  We recommend that you do not begin until the second quarter of internship as we have learned that many students underestimate the amount of work required for the doctoral internship.  Students that wish to enroll prior to internship must secure formal permission from the CES Program Director.