Students in the M.S. program should select a formal Advisor by the end of their second semester of registration. Ph.D. students usually do not choose a formal Advisor until they have completed their third tutorial. To ensure that satisfactory progress is made toward repairing any admission deficiencies and meeting the tutorial and area course requirements, each incoming student will be assigned a Dean's Office Advisor to provide advice until an Advisory Committee is approved by the ASC.
By the end of the third tutorial, the student should select a formal Advisor and an Advisory Committee. The student's Advisor must be a regular member of the GSBS Faculty. There will be no co-advisors or co-chairmen of student committees. The Advisor assists the student in the selection of courses and provides guidance on the selection of a thesis/dissertation topic and on the conduct of research. It is the Advisor's responsibility to ensure that the student is meeting the requirements of GSBS and to provide the required progress reports to the OAA, the members of the Advisory/Supervisory Committee and the student. The student's Advisor will chair the Advisory and Supervisory Committees and, in some cases, will serve on the student's Ph.D. Examining Committee (some GSBS Programs have restrictions regarding the Advisor's participation in the Ph.D. candidacy examination). The Advisor may not serve as chair of the Examining Committee.
A student may select a new Advisor with the approval of the ASC. To request a change the student should submit a letter to the ASC describing the circumstances for the requested change. The current and prospective Advisors must submit letters to the ASC certifying that the student has discussed the proposed change with them, that they have both had the opportunity to review the student's academic record, that they have discussed the proposed change with each other, and providing any other comments they wish to make. The prospective Advisor also should indicate his/her willingness to provide academic guidance and financial support for the student.
In the event that a student wishes to remain under the supervision of an Advisor who becomes ineligible for Regular GSBS Faculty membership, a GSBS faculty member must be appointed as "On-Site Advisor" to serve as Chair of the student's Advisory/Supervisory Committee (the previous Advisor should remain a member). If the advisor no longer has an academic appointment in a UT-H institution, the student may seek permission to complete his/her degree requirements at the university in which the Advisor is affiliated (see Registration and Student Status).
Students who change Advisors are still expected to meet the stated deadlines for completion of degree requirements. If an extension is desired, a written request, including justification for the extension and an estimated date for completion of the requirement in question, must be submitted to the ASC for approval.
- Must be GSBS-approved faculty member"Regular" GSBS member for M.S./Ph.D."Associate" GSBS member for M.S.
- Students can change Advisors with approval of the Academic Standards Committee
- Fourth tutorial allowed if undecided, funded by GSBS or Advisor
- Typical errors with Advisory Committee:Too many non-GSBS faculty membersAll GSBS in the same Program or Department
- Research topics in laboratory: Are you interested in projects?
- Scientific philosophy of laboratory and P.I.
- Lab size: small vs. large; advantages and disadvantages
- Publication record of P.I. (and publication philosophy)
- Funding capability of laboratory P.I.: grants, duration
- Faculty willing to help you grow outside of lab, e.g., internships, scientific meetings
Your Attitude Makes it Work
- Talk with graduate students, including former graduates from the same lab
- Talk with prospective Advisor
- Ask questions
Before Choosing a Thesis Advisor Ask Questions [Source: Matheny, A.; AWIS Magazine 22:17, 1993]
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Where do I want to be in five years? In ten years?
- What is the most important to me - my work environment or my intellectual interest in a field?
- Do I need direction and motivation from an advisor, or do I prefer to work independently?
- Do I need to feel comfortable talking to my advisor?
- Is the field I choose easily adaptable to other fields?
- Do I prefer to work in a group or on my own?
- Do I want to work primarily with computers?
- Will the project be purely theoretical, experimental, or a combination of both?
- Do I want to start a family in the next five years?
Questions to ask members of the group or the prospective advisor
- How stable is the advisor's funding?
- Do students help to write grant proposals?
- Do I get to choose my own project or do I work on the Principal Investigator's (PI) project?
- How involved is the PI in the research?
- Does the PI have favorites? Does the PI neglect or give very little attention to some members of the groups?
- Are students backed by the PI when they run into departmental politics?
- Does the PI treat male and female students with the same respect as far as their intellectual abilities are concerned?
- Does the PI promote your work or claim it as her/his own?
- Does the PI work with you towards your career, or are you on your own?
- Where have previous students gone?
- How long does it typically take to get a Ph.D. in the group?
- What kind of work can I expect to find after graduation if I specialize in this PI's area of research?
- Do students publish and attend conferences all along, or only at the end of their research?
- Does the PI give you tools or are you on your own to develop research capabilities?
- Does the group meet regularly for group meetings or lunches?
- Are the group members competitive or cooperative?
- Does the group collaborate with other groups?
- Will I need to travel to do my research? How will that affect my lifestyle?
- Does the PI have tenure?
- What amount of course work is expected/discouraged after joining the group?
Questions to ask other professors and senior-level graduate students
- What is the advisor's reputation?
- Is the advisor close to retiring, or in poor health?
Suggestion: Do a literature search of the prospective advisor's publications. Do they seem interesting to you? Also find papers from the group's graduate students.
- Choose carefully -- take it very seriously
- Choose after choosing research project
- Choose faculty with expertise in your area (and one outside)
- Choose faculty who will be able to attend Committee meetings
- Choose some faculty with GSBS experience (mixture of junior and senior faculty members)
- Discuss choices with your Advisor and other students
- Members cannot all be from the same Department of GSBS Program
- Maximum of two non-GSBS faculty (NIH biosketch required)
First Advisory Committee meeting:
- Advisory Committee should be formed by the end of the last tutorial
- Must be formed within two months of completion of tutorials
- First meeting should be during the Fall Semester, 2nd year
- Purpose: to get advice on courses, introduce research topic
- Provide committee members with:-Curriculum Vitae-Courses taken-Program affiliation (if any)-Research topic-Specific aims (goals)-Methodologies to be used-Any preliminary data-Next set of experiments
Subsequent Committee meetings:
- You MUST meet with your Committee every six months to avoid academic probation
- Provide members with 1-2 page progress report with hypothesis and aims, data acquired thus far (good or bad)
- Arrange with Committee members in advance, then remind them a few days beforehand
- Identify a room and reserve it well ahead of your meeting
- You may want to meet with the committee members individually
- Begin meetings with course updates, academic issues, new experimental data, techniques attempted, etc.
- Practice the presentation; do not read it
- Be open minded to suggestions; discuss professionally