Advising and Mentoring

Quality first year advising by an assigned faculty member and mentoring by the Supervisory Committee Chair (and other research mentors) in subsequent years are central to doctoral students’ successful performance in the program. This section of the website includes links to documents that are useful for first year advisors and advisees and for mentors and mentees.

First-Year Advising

Advising in Year 1 is different from mentoring later in the program, since it is typically an assigned relationship for first year students for a relatively short finite time.  Although such assignments may take into account mutual areas of scholarly interest, the first year advising role is primarily a starting point to connect students with programmatic information and faculty resources and to address policy and procedural matters and questions. This means a substantive match is less important than a willingness to help guide the student during the transition to graduate school in Year 1 and preparation for Year 2.  Please see the First Year Advising Guidelines.


If the student or advisor should decide that another advisory arrangement is needed during the first year, reassignments can be made. The person initiating the request contacts all parties affected and discusses the reasons for the change with them. The student or advisor then informs the PhD Program Director and Assistant Director via email.

If concerns about student performance arise during the first year, the PhD Program Director will contact the student or advisor or both to initiate discussion and if needed, to formulate a response plan.

Informal Peer Advisors

The incoming first year students are also matched with informal peer advisors (or “buddies”) who are volunteer students in later years of the program. These “buddies” are available for phone and email conversations during the summer before students enter the program and help with transitions during the first year.  They meet with their “buddies” during orientation.

Mentoring for Qualifying Paper, Dissertation and other Scholarly Initiatives

Once a student selects a Supervisory Committee chair (typically early in the second year), the Chair assumes academic advisory responsibilities as part of their ongoing mentoring (or in some instances, co-mentoring). See section on “Selection of Supervisory Committee” for details.

In addition to the Supervisory Committee Chair, any researcher serving as a supervisor (e.g., RA arrangements or research project teams) can have a mentoring relationship with students.  These may be other Supervisory Committee members. However, in all instances it is essential that the primary identified mentor remain pivotal and actively engaged with the student, coordinating and supervising the mentee’s research training experience and available to meet with mentees on a regular basis. Because we see mentoring as crucial to a quality coherent educational experience, to socialization, and to the development of independent researchers who are skilled, insightful and confident, we pay explicit attention to mentoring functions and to the shared responsibility of both the mentor and mentee.  See Link to Mentoring Guidelines for Mentors and Mentoring Guidelines for Mentees

Individual Development Plan (IDP) Overview

The IDP is a process through which students reflect on, plan and discuss their academic and professional goals. IDPs are designed to allow for planning throughout the students’ time in the program and into the early phases of their post-PhD careers.

Year 1

In Year 1, the advisor is to work with their advisee on completing their Individual Development Plan (IDP), beginning in April and submitting it to the Doctoral Program Office by the end of June.  To begin preparing the IDP, download and save the Individual Development Plan (IDP) document.

The advisor also initiates the student’s use of e-Portfolios, which are to be used throughout the program. In addition to submitting the IDP to the Doctoral Program Director and Assistant Director, the IDP is to be uploaded to the e-portfolio annually. 

Year 2 Presentation

In mid-late fall of the second year, students formally present their IDPs to a group of faculty that includes first year advisors, first year instructors, and student peers. This presentation is not evaluative, but rather an opportunity to present ideas and obtain input on plans from faculty in addition to their advisor.  

Each Subsequent Year of Program

After Year 1, the student’s primary mentor works with their mentee to revisit and revise the IDP, to be submitted by the end of June for every subsequent year that the mentee is in the program.  The primary mentor also works with the student to update their e-Portfolio.  In addition, the primary mentor should review mentee’s progress in terms of the Academic Program Milestones and the Writing for Publication Guideposts.

Mentoring Resources

It's Not a Crapshoot: Constructing Mentoring Relationships by Carole Srole (

Graduate School Mentoring Resources for Students and Faculty