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The Advising System

Faculty Advisors and Academic Advising


Students will have two types of faculty advisors during the course of their studies. The most important of these is the Research Advisor who will guide the student through the original research that leads to the Ph.D. The Research Advisor is chosen through a process of negotiation between the student and a faculty member with whom the student wishes to study. The student should approach a variety of faculty and explore the various options during the first and second year of graduate studies. Students are expected to have found a research advisor by the end of the second or the beginning of the third year of graduate studies. Depending on the students' preparation, a student may find advisors and begin research earlier. See the departmental research page for a description of some of the research activities underway in the department.

The second advisor is the Academic Advisor. New graduate students are assigned an academic advisor to help them choose appropriate coursework, to consult on various issues, and to allow them to form a personal relationship with one of the faculty. The academic advisor will follow the student's progress and assist if difficulties arise. Academic advisors may or may not have expertise in the particular field in which the student wishes to study, but should be able to help the student make contacts with those who do. A student's academic advisor typically does not become their research advisor, although this may happen from time to time.

Research Advisors


As described above, this is a negotiated process between the student and the potential advisor. The student should take responsibility for this process and actively seek out potential advisors. Faculty are happy to talk to students about available positions and opportunities long before any firm commitments need to be made. Although some students may not enter into a formal relationship with an advisor until the beginning of their third year, students should begin exploring the various possibilities soon after their arrival in Syracuse. When exploring research groups, most students find it beneficial to speak to other graduate students and/or postdocs working with the group in addition to talking with the faculty member directly. An independent study, graduate lab, or summer research assistantship are good ways for a student and potential advisor to get to know each other before either commits officially to a long term relationship. Feel free to ask faculty members about such opportunities at any time. It is a good idea to explore a number of fields, as students often discover a new field that they find more appealing than their original declared interest. Students are in no way restricted to the fields declared as initial interests during the application process.