Choosing a Faculty Advisor

Applicants applying to the Ecosystem Sustainability or Watershed Science programs are required to identify potential advisors when they apply. Students are only admitted to the program if a faculty member chooses to accept them as an advisee due to the research-focused nature of our degrees.

(Applicants to the Professional Science Master’s in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability do not need to identify a faculty advisor.)

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What is the role of a faculty advisor?

A faculty advisor encourages professional development in your chosen field of graduate study. Most critically, they will advise you on how to develop and carry out your research. Advisors additionally provide advice on your course selection, so that you can gain the skills and background needed for your research topic. Faculty advisors also help expand your professional network and provide career guidance.

How to find an advisor:

  1. Peruse faculty profiles and research being done in the department.  Identify faculty members whose interests align with yours.  Read their recent publications for further information about their research.
  2. Contact potential advisors with a brief email. More information is available in this helpful article, but your email should include:
    • Your name
    • Your interest in joining their research lab
    • An inquiry as to whether they are accepting new graduate students
  3. If they are accepting students, arrange a meeting, either in-person or via phone or video conference call.

Questions to ask a potential advisor (in no particular order):

  1. What are your active projects and what would my role be if I joined your lab?
  2. What kind of funding is available for my position (teaching assistantships, research assistantships)?
  3. Will my summer salary be covered?
  4. What meetings/conferences will I attend?
  5. How will I receive feedback?
  6. Do you have additional requirements of your students (ie. attending working groups, additional coursework, etc.)?
  7. What skills (programming with R, additional courses, etc.) should I acquire before I apply/begin the program?