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Advising and Mentoring for Graduate Programs

Effective advising is a cornerstone of successful graduate education. It is vital to the intellectual excellence and vitality of any program, to the successful inclusion of historically underrepresented groups in the academy, and to the launching of successful careers both within and beyond higher education.

Though faculty advisors and graduate students form the advising relationship, graduate programs play key roles in cultivating moments for communication between faculty and graduate students, monitoring the advising taking place, and navigating challenges and misunderstandings in advising relationships. Programs provide relevant resources and information to support students and faculty advisors, set the stage for conversations about graduate advising, and develop systems for managing challenges in advising and student progress and addressing student and faculty concerns. In a sense, graduate programs establish the foundation and environment from which positive advising relationships may grow.

This being said, effective graduate advising at Brown is a team effort: faculty, graduate student, graduate program and the Graduate School all play roles. In support of the graduate programs, the Graduate School has developed a brief statement on Best Practices for Graduate Programs

Key elements of that statement include:

  1. Provide an orientation at the beginning of the academic year.
  2. Ensure that faculty and students are well informed about program requirements and expectations as well as relevant University policies.
  3. Foster a culture of talking about advising.
  4. Develop advising and supervision structures that ensure that more than one faculty member is monitoring each student’s progress.
  5. Establish regular processes for reviewing student progress.
  6. Expect that problems will sometimes arise. Have structures in place in advance.
  7. Establish practices that foster communication between the faculty and the graduate students.

Resources for Graduate Programs

General guides for graduate departments and programs (other institutions)

The Graduate School has also developed best practices for advising geared toward faculty and a guide for maximizing advising relationships for graduate students.