Academic Advising for Graduate Students

Student’s Responsibility

  • Each student should thoroughly study the Graduate Catalog and become familiar with the organization, policies and regulations of the university.
  • Only the general academic regulations and requirements governing graduate programs are presented in CyberOrientation and CyberAdvising.  Visit departmental websites to obtain specific requirements and for the policy and procedure manual for the academic program.
  • Graduate students are responsible for keeping current on information which may affect their matriculation in graduate school.  Whenever a problem occurs, the student should contact their major advisor, the department chair/graduate program director and/or then the Academic Dean's office.
  • Advisors are required to provide academic assistance in a timely and accurate manner, but meeting requirements for graduation is the responsibility of the student.

The Graduate Faculty

Your academic advisor

Each graduate student pursing a degree is assigned an advisor or mentor within the area in which the student is concentrating.

Your Department Chair/Program Director

The chair is responsible for most of what occurs within the department at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Graduate Program Directors specialize in matters directly related to the graduate education in your program.

Your Academic College Dean or Designee

The Dean of your College is available to assist in advising and counseling students academically.  The Dean is charged with supervising all departments and programs within their College and coordinating various activities.

The Division of Graduate Studies

The  Division of Graduate Studies has a knowledgeable and helpful staff.  The staff will advise you on aspects of the Division of Graduate Studies.  The Division of Graduate Studies sponsors periodic workshops for graduate students, faculty and staff.  The Division of Graduate Studies does not advise students academically. Academic advising falls under the purview of departmental or program advisors.


A mentor should be a trusted counselor or guide.  Usually, your major professor is your mentor, but not always and not exclusively.  You do not have to limit yourself to one mentor.  Studies have shown that graduate students with mentors tend to do better in graduate studies and complete their degrees in a more timely manner.  Other faculty, staff, administrators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students can serve as mentors during your graduate career.
What can a mentor do for you?

  • Help plan your academic program
  • Aid in preparing for your comprehensive examination.
  • Assist in finding a thesis or dissertation topic.
  • Prepare you for your defense.
  • Be a confidant
  • Be an advocate for you within the department/university.
  • Help you find funding for your studies
  • Offer honest and constructive criticism of your work.
  • Help you network in your job search.

 How to spot a good mentor

Talk to fellow graduate students about who to seek out and who to avoid.  Take courses from a variety of professors. Attend departmental seminars, workshops, and informal gatherings.  Find out who the faculty are and let them get to know  you.

Keep this in mind… Some faculty members make good mentors, some do not.  Some graduate students make good mentees, other do not.  The qualities of a good mentee are the ability to listen and respond to suggestions about your work. You should come to sessions prepared, on-time, and making progress towards your degree.

Remember, you are the one earning the degree.