Advising Practices

February, 2014 Graduate Advising Policies and Practices

In an effort to promote the best possible advising practices and outcomes for the graduate students in the English Department, to ease the responsibilities of those members of the graduate faculty who do a disproportionate amount of advising as well as to encourage other members of the graduate faculty to share these responsibilities, the English Department Graduate Executive Committee recommends the following:

  • That members of the graduate faculty serve as a major advisor for no more than 6 MA / PhD and / or PhD students at any given time. This suggestion is made in recognition of the time it takes responsibly to advise a student at the time of the doctoral examinations, the prospectus, the writing of the dissertation, and the job search


  • That members of the graduate faculty serve as an advisor, either major or associate, for a total of no more than 10 MA / PhD and / or PhD students at any given time.


  • That members of the graduate faculty consult with the Director of Graduate Studies in the event that they are deliberating whether or not to take on additional advisees.


  • That tenured members of the graduate faculty be willing to serve as an advisor, either major or associate, to 4-6 graduate students.


  • That members of the graduate faculty within a given period or concentration (however defined) equitably share the responsibilities of graduate advising.


  • That members of the graduate faculty do not compete with one another for advisees but respect the integrity of the choices made by individual graduate students in choosing their major and associate advisors.


  • That initial advising assignments take into consideration not only the stated preferences of the incoming students but also the distribution of advisees among the graduate faculty.


  • That initial advising assignments be made for one year, in order that the students and advisors can either reconfirm or rearrange their advisor-advisee relationship during the student’s third semester.


  • That graduate advisors are cognizant that the strength of the advising relationship is an important determinant of our students’ professional success in the academy.


  • That positive advising relationships involve (in addition to the attached criteria) personal as well as professional rapport, respectful resolution of conflict, timely progress through the graduate program, and advice as to how to succeed within the profession.


Responsibilities of Faculty and Students vis-à-vis Graduate Advising:

In an effort to clarify the roles of major advisors, associate advisors, and graduate students in the professional relationships that pertain between advisors and advisees, the Graduate Executive Committee here sets forth the following responsibilities:

A. Major Advisors and Associate Advisors.

  • Participation in the construction of the advisee’s reading lists for the doctoral examination.


  • Participation in the creation of the questions for the doctoral examination.


  • Evaluation of the doctoral examination.


  • Participation in the doctoral examination colloquium.


  • Consultation during the drafting of the dissertation prospectus.


  • Participation in the dissertation prospectus colloquium.


  • Consultation during the drafting of the first chapter of the dissertation.


  • Participation in the first chapter conference.


  • Evaluation of drafts of subsequent chapters (as they are completed).


  • Reading and evaluation of the entire dissertation.


  • Participation in the dissertation defense.


  • Availability during summers and semesters on leave.


  • Professional advice for the advisee (e.g., articles, conference proposals, grants, support on the

job market).


  • Observations of teaching (feedback and letters of recommendation).


  • Letters of recommendation for the advisee.



  1. Major Advisors. In addition to the above, the major advisor should:


  • Serve as a mediator between the student and the members of the committee.


  • Consult with advisees regarding course selection.


  • Return written work in a timely fashion.


  • Be aware of and keep the advisee on track with regard to program deadlines.


  • Be systematically as well as occasionally available to meet with advisees.


  • Offer advice on professionalization.


  • Be simultaneously critical and sympathetic regarding work-in-progress.


  • Offer assistance with non-FE teaching and teaching dossier.



  1. Graduate Students.


  • Communicate regularly with advisors during and after coursework.


  • Make timely and systematic progress toward completion of work: seminar papers, doctoral

examination, language examination, prospectus, dissertation chapters.


  • Demonstrate respect for mutually agreed upon deadlines: students should contact and consult

with advisors in the event that deadlines may need to be extended.


  • Make timely and systematic progress in the writing of the dissertation.


  • Engage with constructive criticism from members of the advisory committee.


  • Engage in active and ongoing professionalization.


  • Understand that ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to fulfill all the requirements for

the degree.

If a graduate student is experiencing a problem with their advisor and would like the mediation of the Director of Graduate Studies, please fill out and submit the “Report of Advising Concerns.”