During the final stages of the required course work, the candidate consults with the PhD thesis advisor regarding the proposed membership of the candidate's doctoral committee. There must be at least four members on the doctoral committee and the membership must satisfy the following criteria:
- at least two members must be tenured faculty in the university
- at least one member must have a primary appointment in a department other than AE
- at least two members must be from the AE Department
- the chair of the doctoral committee must have graduate standing and an appointment in the AE Department
- at least three of members on the committee must be members of the graduate faculty
Once an appropriate membership list has been prepared, the candidate requests each member to serve on the proposed doctoral committee. This committee must be approved by the AE department head and the Graduate College. The candidate in conjunction with the advisor makes arrangements for a suitable time and place for the Preliminary Examination.