Duties and Responsibilities of the Graduate Adviser

Graduate advisers play a key role in the academic life of students and in the functions of the Graduate Division. When a graduate student enters a department to do graduate work, he or she is assigned a faculty adviser. Some departments have just one graduate adviser who counsels all graduate students; in other departments, some or all faculty members serve as advisers.

The graduate advisers are appointed by the department chair or interdepartmental degree program committee. The chair’s signature is required on some forms; in other cases, the graduate advisers’ signatures are the only departmental signatures, in addition to the chair, recognized as official on various Graduate Division forms and on petitions presented by graduate students. Graduate advisers formally approve students’ programs of study, advise them on advancement to candidacy for higher degrees, consider their petitions to change majors, to add or drop courses, to apply for readmission, etc. In all of these matters, the adviser or the advisement team must judge whether the student’s request is in order, is in his or her own best interest, and is feasible under existing regulations.

The Graduate Division recognizes that departmental staff also play a pivotal role in providing information and advice on policy and procedures to students. In some instances, staff are even recommended by the chair for signature authority for certain petitions and forms (e.g. current drop/add petitions). Therefore, it is essential that staff who have administrative responsibility for serving graduate students become thoroughly familiar with the policies and procedures outlined in all Graduate Division publications available on this web site.

The Graduate Division staff hopes that the information presented on this site will be helpful to all graduate advisers and to departmental staff assistants in the understanding of the many policies, procedures and other matters that are encountered in the counseling of students. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement in the presentation of these materials.