Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Advising Practices & Resources

Main content start

Faculty, students, and staff in each degree program can help establish a professional and respectful academic advising culture.

In 2017, the Committee on Graduate Studies reviewed the advising materials of Stanford graduate programs and identified a number of examples of effective departmental practices in defining expectations, in the context of great variation in disciplinary norms and individual styles that influence advising.

The resources below provide language and practices to foster discussion about advising among faculty and between faculty and their students. Ultimately, effective graduate advising relies on open and honest communication, as well as on mutual respect and professional interactions between individual faculty and their advisees.

Promising PracticesUseful Resources
Discuss shared values, goals, and responsibilities

Guidelines for Faculty-Student Advising at Stanford (PDF): elaborates the role academic advising plays in graduate students’ development and the responsibilities of students, faculty advisors, and departments.

Policies & Best Practices for Advising Relationships at Stanford (PDF): summarizes shared values, goals, and responsibilities and link to policies, resources, and problem-solving support.

Advising Policies: review relevant University policies together, including your departments' or programs' advising expectations. 

Agree on expectations

Advising Expectations: lists of questions for degree programs and individual faculty to consider when establishing and communicating advising expectations

Student-Advisor Expectations Scales: facilitates discussion between students and advisors about their approach to academic advising, particularly designed for doctoral students.

Faculty Expectations Document: faculty may explicitly outline their expectations in a document that they discuss with new students and postdoctoral scholars and in some cases, amend with input from advisees, creating a “living” expectations agreement.

Advising Agreements: departments may ask faculty and students to sign an advising agreement that outlines the responsibilities of each member.

Review progress regularly and discuss future plans

Annual Doctoral Student Degree and Career Progress Meeting Worksheet: students are encouraged to meet annually with their advisors to take stock, set goals, and develop an action plan for the coming year. This customizable worksheet, endorsed by the Committee on Graduate Studies, can help facilitate such conversations.

Biosciences Individual Development Plans: doctoral students in the Biosciences use the appropriate IDP form,  tailored for students in Year 1, Year 2, and Years 3-5. Other students may find these forms useful to guide their own planning and discussions with their faculty advisor.

myIDP: developed by Science Careers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in collaboration with several universities, myIDP is used by many science students and postdoctoral scholars. All Stanford affiliates have free access to this resource by virtue of Stanford's institutional Science journal subscription.

Imagine PhD: based on myIDP,  this tool was developed for students in the humanities and sciences by the Graduate Career Consortium in collaboration with many universities.

Cornell University's Student Progress Review: the Student Progress Review (SPR) requirement was implemented in 2017 at the request of students and faculty to support the regular exchange of constructive, written feedback between advisees and advisors.

Postdoctoral Scholar Individual Development Plan: postdocs are encouraged to initiate a discussion with their faculty mentors around their career and progress using the tools developed by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Seek out guidance and training

Advising Workshops: VPGE offers workshops on effective advising relationships for students as part of our professional development programs as well as for faculty in collaboration with the Office of Faculty Development, Diversity, and Engagement, and at the request of Schools or departments (see VPGE Pop-Ups).

Problem Solving & Crisis Intervention: tap into and learn from the experience  in your degree program and School and in the other offices that support graduate students, including VPGE.