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Graduate Mentoring and Advising

The role of graduate advisor and mentor is critical - not only to our students, our disciplines, and the University, but to all who stand to benefit from the contributions made by those we advise and mentor. Despite its importance, few faculty receive any formal training to meet the demands and challenges of the advising and mentoring role. The resources listed provide a brief
overview of graduate student advising and mentoring by:

  • articulating characteristics of exemplary advisors and mentors;
  • discussing challenges associated with advising and mentoring relationships;
  • suggesting “best practices” for advising and mentoring; and
  • offering the mentoring philosophies of lauded graduate advisors.

Below are some resources to help graduate advisors and mentors navigate their roles.

Online Sources

Mentoring vs. Advising

From the University of Arkansas Graduate School, this source succinctly presents the distinctions of advising and mentoring and offers a brief overview of the qualities and insights of a skilled mentor. This source also lists additional resources for information on graduate student mentoring.

Mentoring and Advising

From the Ph.D. Completion Project of the Council of Graduate Schools, this source recognizes the distinctions among mentoring and advising and serves to identify specific practices and offer step-by-step criteria for faculty to consider during their mentorships with graduate students.

Guidelines for Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Relationships

From Michigan State University, this source outlines the responsibilities of the academic unit, chair, faculty advisor, guidance committee, and graduate student.

The Mentoring of Graduate Students

This module from North Carolina State University outlines the issues that face both mentors and mentees, with emphasis on the ethical implications of the mentor-mentee relationship.

How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty

In addition to providing general suggestions for good mentoring practice, this handbook from Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan explores some of the special challenges and rewards of advising an increasingly diverse graduate student population.

Mentoring: A Guide for Faculty

For both an understanding of the mentoring role and for detailed, case-specific, step-by-step strategies, review the suggestions presented by the University of Washington Graduate School.  Strategy suggestions cover such scenarios as the mentoring of international students and students with disabilities, and the roles of age and experience, race and ethnicity, and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds on student success.

Nature’s Guide for Mentors

Nature’s guide for mentors presents its suggestions in a lively, relatable format. The authors draw from material based on Nature’s awards in creative mentoring as well as from anecdotal evidence of mentoring in order to emphasize the personal characteristics and considerations that made such mentoring successful. The resource also provides a self-assessment for the reader to reflect on his or her mentoring quality.

Mentoring Systems ; Monitoring Graduate Student Progress

The Council of Graduate Schools offers a summary of the qualities of an effective mentoring system. Suggestions aim to support graduate students, familiarize faculty with the mentoring role, and encourage greater dialogue about the importance of mentoring at the departmental level. The successful monitoring of graduate student progress is also instrumental for an effective mentoring system. The Council of Graduate Schools offers general suggestions as to how to foster student success.

Journal Articles and Publications

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (1997). Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a mentor to Students in Science and Engineering. National Academy Press: Washington, DC.

This booklet provides a comprehensive overview of advising and mentoring relationships between faculty and a broad range of students (i.e., undergraduate to post-doctoral). Different mentoring/advising roles are addressed along with tips for being a successful mentor. Issues related to diversity and professional ethics are also examined.

Fine, M.A. and L.A. Kurdek (1993). Reflections on Determining Authorship Credit and Authorship Order on Faculty-Student Collaborations. American Psychologist, 48 (11), 1141-1147.

Fine and Kurdek use a series of case studies to raise issues related to authorship decisions and suggest guidelines for discussing and determining authorship. The authors explore the problems associated with faculty who assign too little – or too much – credit to student contributions. Although the cases involve Psychology faculty and students, the issues and the advice cross disciplinary boundaries.

Fedynich, L. & Bain, S. F. (2011). Mentoring the successful graduate student of tomorrow. Research in Higher Education Journal, 12.

Fedynich and Bain review the changing graduate student population, develop an awareness of the significant impact of faculty mentorship, and offer practical implications for the improvement in quality of faculty mentorship.

National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine. (1997). Adviser, teacher, role model, friend: on being a mentor to students in science and engineering. National Academy Press.

This guide offers insight for teachers, administrators, and career advisors in science and engineering with respect to how they might improve their mentoring. This source also explores such topics as career planning, time management, writing development, and responsible scientific conduct. A list of additional resources on mentoring and related topics is included.


Graduate faculty awards

GPD Resource Center to assist graduate program directors in their roles


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