Advisory Committee

An Advisory Committee of five or more tenure-track or tenured faculty members will oversee your graduate education.  During the first year, before an Advisory Committee has been formed and a major professor selected, the First-Year Advisory Committee will serve as your advisor.  The First-Year Advisory Committee will help you select courses, laboratory rotations, and your major professor, and they can assist you with other issues that may arise during the first year.

After you have chosen a lab, your major professor will help you in choosing the other members of your Advisory Committee.  Choose this committee carefully, taking time to discuss potential members with faculty and other students.  Selection of a major professor and the additional four members of the Advisory Committee should be completed by the end of March of the first year.  At least five members of the Committee must be tenure-track or tenured professors at UW-Madison.  At least three members of the Committee should be members of the Program.  To ensure that Advisory Committees reflect a broad perspective, at least three different areas of neuroscience or approaches to neuroscience must be represented on the Committee.  Examples of different areas include behavior/cognition, development, synaptic transmission/membrane excitability.  Examples of different approaches include electrophysiology, genetic/model organisms, biochemistry/pharmacology, human brain imaging, stem cells.  The student is responsible for describing how the proposed committee represents at least three areas/approaches.  The composition of each student’s Advisory Committee will be reviewed and must be approved by the First-Year Advisory Committee.  All changes to the makeup of your Advisory Committee, must be approved by the First-Year Advisory Committee. N&PP students are required to have at least one member of the N&PP Steering Committee represented on their thesis advisory committee.

In order to have your committee approved you must fill out and turn in the NTP Advisory Committee Approval Form which is found on the NTP website ( After you return the form to the NTP office, the First-Year Advisory Committee will review your proposed committee and approve your committee or make suggestions for additional members to ensure a broad perspective.

The Advisory Committee will meet with you once each semester before you become a dissertator (during the first four or five academic semesters) and once each year after you become a dissertator to review your progress.  At least four members of the Committee must be present at each meeting.  Your major professor chairs the Advisory Committee and will write a report that summarizes each meeting.  You should review each report and discuss it with your major professor.  Every report must be signed by you and your major professor and becomes part of your permanent record.  The summary reports are used by the Steering Committee, Program faculty, and Director to monitor progress. If you believe the report does not describe your progress accurately or is in error in some other respect, you should bring these concerns to the attention of your major professor immediately.  If a satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved, you should inform the First-Year Advisory Committee, which will assist you in deciding whether to ask for a review by the Steering Committee.  The First-Year Advisory Committee can handle any issues or problems that arise after the first year and are not resolved by your Advisory Committee.  An Advisory Committee Report form is shown in the appendix of this Handbook and can be found on the NTP website (

Prior to each semester, a student progress report will be sent to all students, major professors, and Advisory Committees.  The report shows the student’s progress in completing the Program’s requirements.

Advisory Committee meetings for all students who are not dissertators are to be held at the beginning of each semester and a summary report of the meeting should be filed in the Program Office no later than the end of the third week of the fall and spring semesters.  Dissertators should meet with their Committees and file a summary report no later than the end of the third week of the fall semester.

A reminder notice to schedule the meeting will be sent to you at least one month prior to the start of the semester.  If an Advisory Committee meeting has not been held and a summary report has not been filed by the end of the third week, one additional reminder will be sent stating that a hold will be placed on your registration by the Program Office and will be removed only after the Committee meeting is held and a report is filed.  No further reminders will be sent.  Failure to register on time will result in the Registrar’s Office assessing a late payment fee.

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