DAC Meetings

After students complete their Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE), they form a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) in consultation with their thesis advisor. The DAC advises on project scope and timeline, elective courses, career development, mentorship, and any issues that may arise, guiding students toward successful and timely completion of their PhD.

Guidelines for PiN Students

Role of the DAC

DAC members advise on project scope and timeline, course selection, career development, mentorship, and any other issues that may arise and are responsible to the University to ensure that students meet all program requirements. A major role of the DAC is to assist dissertation advisors and students in deciding when to close off further experimentation and to begin writing. If there are major concerns about a student, the DAC can suggest a review with the program director in which they will meet with the student and their thesis advisor to discuss the issues raised and the best plan of action.

Forming Your DAC

The DAC typically comprises the same faculty who served on your PQE Committee, but substitutions may be made in consultation with your advisor and the program director. At least one of your DAC members must be affiliated with PiN. If you would like to invite new faculty to join your DAC, you should get the program director's written approval (through a brief email, no form required) before contacting them and let the program administrator know when your committee has been finalized.


Students are required to schedule their first DAC meeting within 9 months of passing their PQE and successive DAC meetings every 9 months through the end of their G5 year and every 6 months thereafter. Students should start the scheduling process at least 6 weeks before their meeting deadline and are required to share a research progress summary with their committee (and the PiN administrator) at least 48 hours prior to their meeting, typically a two-page summary of scientific background, questions, progress, problems/issues, and future aims. The DAC chair is responsible for sending a DAC report to the program office following the meeting. These two documents become part of the student’s record with DMS.

Meeting Format

DAC meetings typically last two hours. The general format is as follows: 1) the DAC meets with the student while the PI steps out; 2) the DAC meets with the PI while the student steps out; 3) the student gives a presentation on their project to date, including a brief summary of scientific background, problems/challenges, and future aims, everyone discusses, and the DAC makes recommendations. The DAC meeting is NOT an examination. It serves several purposes: (a) to give students and PIs feedback on their research project; (b) to address any mentorship challenges; (c) to make sure students are making timely progress toward graduation; (d) to advise on elective courses and professional development.