What Makes a Good Graduate Program Advisor?

Publications in journals isn't the only important part of graduate advising. Read on to hear our opinion on what makes a great advisor!

Publications in journals isn’t the only important part of graduate advising. Read on to hear our opinion on what makes a great advisor!

This advice may not be immediately relevant, but today we’re presenting some things we appreciate about graduate program advisors:

  1. Research success: There’s no two ways about it: graduate school is about publications, and advisors with a good history of publishing give you a better chance of being successful as a graduate student. Your advisor doesn’t have to be churning out papers like a Xerox machine, but they should be putting out solid, relevant papers at a good clip. If a professor hasn’t published much recently, perhaps his/her passion or excellence in the field has diminished, so you may want to look elsewhere
  2. Understanding and compassion: A very close second is the compassion your advisor displays. The advisor’s personality dictates the feel of the research group, so make sure you find an advisor who understands and empathizes with the struggles of being a graduate student. You don’t want to work under a slave driver for 6 years, and you certainly don’t want to feel like you have no one to turn to during the inevitable dark times ahead.
  3. Passion for teaching graduate students: Though research is a self-motivated pursuit, you’ll still want an advisor who is there to guide you and teach the things you don’t quite understand. Some researchers have little patience for teaching those below him/her, so try to avoid these! You’re not simply there to produce results, after all. The purpose of graduate studies is to learn, so make sure you have someone who is willing and delighted to facilitate this learning!
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