Advisor Selection

Your relationship with your advisor is one of the most important aspects of your PhD experience. So, how do you get paired with an advisor? The short answer is that you pick your top choices, and then, the faculty pick from among the students that chose them. Here is the detailed procedure:


1. Educate yourself.

  • Visit faculty websites.
  • Read the research brochure.
  • Read faculty papers and papers related to their research interests.
  • Attend faculty presentations (Required).
    • You will learn about what research projects are available then.
  • Meet with at least six faculty members (Required).
    • This is the time to ask detailed questions about available projects.
    • You will be trying to impress the faculty, but they will also be trying to impress you. They want to find the students who best fit the work they’re doing.
    • Faculty members may suggest that you read a paper to learn more about their research or that you visit their labs. You should do that.
  • Talk to other graduate students to learn about their groups.
    • This is where you will get the inside information.

2. Submit your top six choices.

  • Due by the end of September.
    • So, get started on those meetings and learning about the research projects as soon as possible.

3. Get paired with an advisor.

  • Faculty choose from among the students who listed them as their top choice.
    • The faculty may look at admissions materials when evaluating students, but more often, they focus on what they learned during their interactions with the students. Like most people, they want to work with nice people who are interested in their work.
    • Most students (usually about 70%) are done at this point.
  • For the students who were not paired with their first choice advisors, the process repeats with each successive choice.