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Advising Expectations

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Stanford's Faculty Senate requires that "within each department or program minimum advising expectations be set for both advisor and advisee." 

Graduate advising expectations are updated and posted annually in each degree program’s Explore Degrees section of the Stanford Bulletin and should be included in Graduate Handbooks and posted on program websites. 

The key questions below provide examples of advising expectations that degree programs have addressed in their statements and handbooks. A list of questions faculty advisors might consider in making their individual expectations explicit for students is also provided below.

Degree Program Expectations

Purpose of advising

  • What is the overall purpose of faculty advising in this program?

Advisor assignment and change

  • How are advisors initially assigned to or selected by incoming graduate students? 
  • What is the process by which students can change advisors and when should this happen?

Communication and meeting expectations

  • How frequently should students meet with their advisors and how are those meetings set up?
  • How does meeting frequency change as the student progresses? 
  • What topics might be discussed at advising or committee meetings?
  • Are there any forms to complete or “deliverables” associated with any of those meetings?

Degree progress and dissertation advising

  • How is degree progress monitored, for example through a departmental annual review process or regular meetings with advisor or thesis committees?
  • How and when does a student select and convene their dissertation reading or “thesis” committee?
  • What is the purpose of the committee; and how often should the committee meet? 
  • How does the department or program, advisor, and student decide when a student is ready to graduate?
  • Who else might a student consult for help or guidance, e.g., department chair, DGS, student services staff?

Individual Faculty Expectations

  • What are your expectations about time off, vacation, holidays, etc.- do you expect the student to request time away and if so, how far in advance?
  • Do you expect your students to consult with you about the courses they take?
  • How will you write together? How polished should drafts be before you see them? How much time do you want to review drafts and how do you want your student to request input?
  • How long in advance should your student make a request for a letter of recommendation (or similar) and what information do you need in advance?
  • What fellowships or research funds do you expect your students to apply for and how will you support their efforts?
  • What funding might you be able to provide (conference travel funds, research funds, etc.)?
  • Do you expect student to present their work, in your research group or department, on campus, at conferences, etc.?
  • Do you expect students to publish their work and if so, will you and/or others co-author with them?
  • How and when do you discuss co-authorship?
  • What might students seek your guidance on beyond their courses and dissertation: i.e., teaching opportunities, career guidance, work-life balance?