Graduate advising is a delicate and most important issue that graduate students need to deal with. The following describes answers to frequently asked questions about graduate
advising and course selection. If more specific information is needed, or you have a question that cannot be answered
using the information listed, please contact the graduate program director of your department, the The Graduate School, New Brunswick
, or the Office of Graduate Education
in the School of Engineering.
How do I select my academic advisor?
For most non-thesis M.S. and part-time students, the graduate director serves as the academic
advisor for the first term.
Graduate Assistants are assigned to the faculty member who obtained the research grant supporting the assistantship.
For Graduate Fellows, Teaching Assistants and other full-time students, the procedure for finding an advisor is as follows. During the first semester at Rutgers students should inquire about the research currently being conducted by the faculty of the department to determine research areas of interest. To do this, first the student meets with the graduate director and identifies a general area of interest. The graduate director then gives the student a list of faculty members conducting research in areas of interest of the student. The student is asked to speak with these faculty members. In some graduate programs faculty present their
research topics at the beginning of the academic year during a series of seminars.
After the students speaks wih all of the faculty members in the student's area the student should meet with his/her graduate director and the two discuss the available options. An advisor selection is made after that. Of course, the faculty
member has to agree to guide the thesis/dissertation of the student.
Students should determine an area of interest and select an advisor before the end of their first semester, or no later than the beginning of their second semester. Not selecting an advisor in a timely fashion will most likely prolong the graduate student's stay in graduate school.
In determining the courses you plan to take please note that only a subset of the graduate courses listed in the catalogue is taught every year. Some courses are offered every other year and some are offered even less frequently. The list of courses offered in a particular semester are posted in the University Schedule of Classes web site
. Courses may be cancelled if the enrollment is low. Students who are particularly interested in a given course should register for it as early as possible.
Please make sure that the courses you take satisfy the course requirements of your graduate program.
Can I change my advisor(s)?
A related question that sometimes is asked is: How do I change advisors? The question arises, for example, when a student finds that he/she is more interested in a research topic in an area different from the one initially selected or when advisor and student do not get along. In such cases, the student should contact the graduate director as soon as possible for advice and help. The graduate director will describe the options available to the student. In most cases, all the student has to do is find a faculty member in the desired area who is willing to serve as an advisor. Some cases may become stickier.
There are two major problems associated with changing advisors. One is loss of research time --
both on the part of the advisor and the student. Another is the possible loss of support a student who is a GA. Neither loss is desirable. Hence, students are encouraged to make their initial advisor selections as carefully as possible.