Major Professor and Advisory Committee

Major Professor

All graduate students are required to select a Major Professor who acts as the Chair of their Advisory Committee and who agrees to supervise the student’s graduate study, research and thesis preparation, if applicable.

All students are assigned a temporary advisor when admitted to the ME graduate program. Students can consult with their temporary advisor and other faculty to determine a major professor, but should choose a Major Professor before the end of their first semester and identify them on their plan of study (POS).

Those who are employed as a research assistant by ME work under the supervision of the faculty member(s) associated with that project. Major Professors are the faculty members supervising the research. When a student accepts a research assistantship the student also accepts the faculty offering the assistantship as the Major Professor. 

Students may have a Major Professor who serves as the Chair of their Advisory Committee, or they may have two Co-chairs who share equally in the advisory role as Major Professors. Students cannot have a Chair and a Co-chair.

Advisory Committee

Members of the Advisory Committee are to assist the student in the preparation of the POS and to offer advice on graduate work, including research and thesis preparation.  Selection of the Advisory Committee members is done in consultation with the Major Professor, but the student should seek consent of all of the desired faculty members who are requested to serve on the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is formally established when the POS is submitted by the student and approved by the Purdue Graduate School.

All persons serving on the Advisory Committee of students must be regular or special graduate faculty, i.e., certified by the Graduate School to serve on the committees of graduate students.

Students may also include non-Purdue academics (faculty at other Universities), scientists at national labs, or researchers in industry, but they require prior approval from the Graduate School in the form of a certification as special graduate faculty (see below).

Request Approval of a Special Faculty Appointment: The Major Professor (not the outside person) must send the completed Special Faculty Appointment Form, to the ME Grad Office requesting special faculty certification with a clear justification for the specific expertise that the outside member brings to the student’s research, in addition to an electronic version of the complete vita for the outside person being considered. This request must be submitted in one transaction. Do not ask the outside person to submit information directly to the Graduate Office. This should be done by the ME professor.

Master’s Advisory Committee

Thesis Option:  Consists of at least 3 members:

  • Major Professor
  • Another professor who is interested in the student’s major field (usually from ME)
  • 3rd Professor representing a related area (usually, but not necessarily, from outside ME).
  • Students with Co-chairs need to select only one other member to complete the 3-member Advisory Committee.

Non-thesis Option:

  • Consists of at least one faculty member from the school of Mechanical Engineering.

PhD and Direct PhD Advisory Committees

Consists of at least 4 members:

  • Major Professor
  • Two other professors who are interested in the student’s major field (usually from ME)
  • Fourth professor representing a related area and required to be from outside ME.
  • Students with Co-chairs need to select at least two other members to complete the 4-member Advisory Committee.

IUPUI-West Lafayette Cooperative PhD Program Advisory Committee

Consists of at least 4 members:

  • Must be co-chaired by one ME faculty member from Purdue West Lafayette campus and one ME faculty member from IUPUI campus, who serve as Major Professors.
  • At least 2 members of the Advisory Committee (including a Co-Chair must be ME faculty at the Purdue West Lafayette campus.
  • One committee member must be from a department/school outside of ME (can be from Purdue West Lafayette or IUPUI); can be from non-Purdue academics, scientists at national labs, or researchers in industry.  (See special faculty appointment information, above.)

Changing the Advisory Committee

Requests for changes in the Advisory Committee are made electronically through myPurdue, by submitting a change to your POS.  Each request for a change should have a comment added on the POS as to the reason for the change.  The change request will need to be approved by the member(s) whose status is affected by the request, the Major Professor, the POS Coordinator, the Graduate Chair and Grad School.


ME Graduate Office
585 Purdue Mall (Room 1003)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5730