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Advising Practices & Resources

Faculty, students, staff, and their departments and programs all help establish a professional and respectful academic advising culture.

In April 2018 the Faculty Senate updated University policy with a requirement that "within each department or program minimum advising expectations be set for both advisor and advisee...These department or program expectations must be distributed to faculty and graduate students on an annual basis at the start of each academic year and must be easily accessible on the web." (see GAP 3.3 Academic Advising and coverage in the Stanford News and Inside Higher Education)

Prior to recommending the above policy, the Committee on Graduate Studies asked graduate programs to share their advising materials to help the Committee understand what is working well and what could be improved. In reviewing these materials, the Committee gained a deeper appreciation for the ways that disciplinary norms and individual styles influence advising. In recommending this policy, the Committee aimed to honor these differences and encourage discussion among faculty, staff, and students about their advising practices.

The suggestions and resources below are intended to provide language and practices to foster advising 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.

Promisng  Practices for Faculty & Students Useful 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

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.
Review progress regularly and discuss future plans

Annual Reviews and Individual Development Plans (IDPs): many departments have processes for faculty and their advisees to discuss and document progress and plans at an annual review meeting; some department faculty also review all students’ progress at an annual meeting. Annual IDPs are required for all postdoctoral scholars and in some graduate degree programs.

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 Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, and at the request of Schools or departments.

Help: tap into and learn from the experience  in your department and School and in the other offices that support graduate students.