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Advising & Mentoring Guidelines & Resources

The Brown University Graduate School is committed to:

  1. Establishing and maintaining training programs of the highest quality with rigorous academic and ethical standards, and
  2. Providing oversight for the length of study, program design, funding, and other matters relevant to the education and training of our graduate students, and the training and professional development of postdoctoral appointees (postdocs).

Advising and mentoring are essential elements needed to ensure the successful education and training of our graduate students and postdocs.

What is advising?
Advising can be defined as offering constructive counsel and guidance to graduate students and postdocs in order to assist them in meeting their academic and professional development goals.  An advisor helps to evaluate graduate student and trainee skills and talents, and assists them in the selection of coursework and other academic and training programs that will help further their academic enrichment and professional development.

What is mentoring?
Mentoring is an active process by which faculty advisors establish and foster structured and trusting relationships with graduate students and postdocs by offering guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing their competence and character.  Mentors are good listeners, people who care, and people who want to help graduate students and postdocs further develop their strengths and achieve academic excellence and professional advancement.

Developing an advising plan does not have to be complicated or time-consuming, as it has two essential elements:

  1. For graduate students and postdocs: A self-assessment by the graduate student and postdoc, potentially using an Individual Development Plan (IDP) as a tool. This form is now required for some students and postdocs, please see the Graduate School policy.
  2. For graduate students only: Regular meetings and honest annual evaluations, with reference to an established Advising Agreement Between Graduate Students and Faculty

The “Advising Agreement Between Graduate Students and Faculty” is based on the “Mentoring Compact” published by the Graduate Research, Education and Training (GREAT) group of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), on the IDP (Individual Development Plan) developed by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), on material developed by the National Postdoctoral Association, and on the Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students, published by the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.  All material is adapted with permission.