Tips For Finding Your Advisor

Transform your graduate school experience by finding the best advisor for you.

  • search

    Search for mutual research interests.

    The most important criteria to consider when deciding on an advisor are the research interests of the faculty members in your department. Ideally, a graduate student should select an advisor who has a successful, active scholarly agenda in the area the student is researching.

  • prep

    Prepare your outreach and become familiar with the faculty's research.

    When you begin reaching out to potential advisors, become familiar with their recent publications, current or ongoing research, conferences, or projects. This information is available on our website's directory or may be found on a professor's social media account.

  • question

    Does the advisor understand your desired career path?

    While having high expectations is great, pursuing tenure-track positions at major institutions may not be your particular goal. You may desire a career at a teaching institution, a leading research and development organization, an administrative position, or an alt-ac career altogether. Your advisor must be clear on your goals and be willing to support you in whatever you decide.

  • time

    Can you see yourself spending the next 3 (or 4, or 5, or 6) years working with this individual?

    It helps tremendously if the personalities of you and your advisor are compatible. You will spend the next few years after completing your exams working closely with your advisor. Consider personality types of potential advisors and ask yourself if you could have a productive working relationship with them.

  • positive

    Don't get discouraged if you do not hear back from faculty quickly.

    They are often busy in the classrooms and labs. If you haven't heard back from an advisor reach out to Kevin Alt, and he'll help follow up.

Student Talking

Questions to Ask a Potential Advisor

  • Does the advisor consider themselves a 'hands-on' or 'hands-off' advisor?
  • What does the advisor generally expect from a student during the quarter?
  • Where does funding typically come from?
  • How often does the advisor meet with students?
  • What are some projects that you and your students are working on?
  • Do you tend to give your students projects or have students select their own? What is your feedback style?