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Announcement

Rackham Graduate School will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 22. We will return at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 27. During the holiday, there will be no processing of application materials and no updates to your Wolverine Access account. After we reopen, there will be a delay in processing application materials. Thank you for your patience as we process the high volume of materials.

Mentoring & Advising

Research shows that both students and faculty benefit when graduate students are involved in effective mentoring and advising relationships.

  • The student is more productive in terms of research activity, conference presentations, predoctoral publications, instructional development, and grant-writing. The well-mentored students' academic success is evident in higher completion rates and a shorter than average time to degree.
  • Faculty benefit in terms of both personal and professional satisfaction. As these students are more productive, faculty in turn attract better students, extend their professional network of future colleagues, and amplify their own success.

What is mentoring? A straightforward definition provided by the Council of Graduate Schools is that mentors are:

  • Advisors, who have career experience and share their knowledge.
  • Supporters, who give emotional and moral encouragement.
  • Tutors, who provide specific feedback on performance.
  • "Masters," who serve as employers to graduate student "apprentices."
  • Sponsors, who are sources of information and opportunities.
  • Models of identity, who serve as academic role models.

For information about Rackham's Mentoring Others Results in Excellence (MORE) faculty initiative, contact Zana Kwaiser at more-mentoring@umich.edu.

Quick Tips

Examples from the University of Michigan

Applied Physics
This program also has a structured approach to pairing new students with faculty mentors that match student interests and needs. The students have a directed study or lab rotation during the winter term of the first year, the summer term, and then in the fall term of the second year. This gives the student exposure to working with a number of faculty in their areas of likely research. The program chair then provides the students with guidance regarding the faculty member who may be the best match for the student.
Business Administration
Professors, whether inside or outside of the Ross School of Business, are required to complete a confidential report on student progress for all courses, including 995. The confidential report is shared with the area's graduate director and is used as an early warning system to help detect problems. In addition, the doctoral advisor for each area annually reviews the student's self evaluation, confidential reports, and transcript so that he/she can provide the student with advice.
Immunology
Faculty in this department adapted an Individual Development Plan first introduced by a postdoctoral fellow who used the plan as a "contract" for his mentorship. Though its use is not mandatory, graduate students here are encouraged to use the IDP with their mentors.
Macromolecular Science and Engineering
MacroSE 790 (Faculty Activities Research Survey) pairs first-year students with faculty thesis advisors. First, the Director of the Program discusses with the student his/her interests and they agree on at least five faculty members to be interviewed by the student. The student then interviews the faculty members chosen (who sign the form supplied to the student by the Program Office) and chooses two faculty members as potential advisors, reporting the two choices to the Program Director. (Only one of the two chosen faculty members will be selected as the ultimate research supervisor.) A written report is included with the selection form, providing the Program Director with one paragraph on each individual interview with the faculty members. This is part of the grade for the course. After the faculty member has agreed to accept the student formal approval is given by the Director.
Download: MacroSE 790 Example Documents
Medical School
Faculty in in the Medical School use a guide similar to that used in Immunology.
Download: Guiding Principles between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors
Public Policy and the Social Sciences
This joint doctoral program provides a student with $3,500 (equivalent to a 0.25 GSRA) in order to work over a summer for any faculty member at U-M (faculty not required to be associated with the program). This fulfills an internship requirement for the degree program and the faculty member bears no cost for the student's assistance. The practice encourages the joint student to explore his or her area of interest while at the same time fosters mentoring relationships.

Resources at the University of Michigan

Mentoring Others Results in Excellence (MORE)
MORE supports and enhances graduate student mentoring at the University of Michigan with the goal of improving retention, productivity and overall success. This faculty committee, supported by Rackham, provides faculty with effective tools and practices for mentoring graduate students through specialized workshops, information, and consultation. MORE seeks to improve the graduate school experience for all students. The scope of MORE has begun with the STEM fields in the College of Engineering, the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, the Medical School and SNRE. Our activities in the future will expand to include other disciplines and fields.
Visit: Mentoring Others Results in Excellence (MORE)
ADVANCE
"The ADVANCE Program began as a five-year, grant-funded project promoting institutional transformation with respect to women faculty in science and engineering fields. With the University's commitment to continue funding through June 2016, the program is gradually expanding to promote other kinds of diversity among faculty and students in all fields."
Visit: ADVANCE
Getting and Giving Career Advice: A Guide for Junior and Senior Faculty
Source: ADVANCE
Getting and Giving Career Advice: A Guide for Junior and Senior Faculty is an excellent resource developed by ADVANCE.
Visit: Getting and Giving Career Advice: A Guide for Junior and Senior Faculty
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching
Their section on Resources for Faculty Mentoring describes their consultation service and connects the reader to detailed bibliographies and other resources on general mentoring, discipline-specific mentoring, training materials and more.
Visit: Center for Research on Learning and Teaching
Checklist for Dissertation Chairs
Source: University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School
Provides a general set of widely applicable guidelines to assist faculty as they guide the student through the intellectual stages and institutional requirements of doctoral degree work at U-M. There are links to relevant resources and required forms.
Visit: Checklist for Dissertation Chairs
How to Get the Mentoring You Want
Source: University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School
This guide for graduate students is the companion publication to the faculty guide listed above.
Download: How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students at a Diverse University
How to Mentor Graduate Students
Source: University of Michigan, Rackham Graduate School
This popular guide is an overview of the benefits and basics of mentoring, with a particular focus on working with students from diverse backgrounds and identities. It includes a directory of professional counseling resources on campus.
Download: How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty at a Diverse University
Just ASK (Just Alumni Sharing Knowledge)
This resource connects current graduate students with Engineering alumni who have volunteered their time to coach grads on academic and personal issues.
Visit: Just ASK (Just Alumni Sharing Knowledge)
Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative
Source: Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative
Though this site is designed for a student audience, there is a section on how faculty mentors can assist African American graduate students.
Visit: Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative, Mentoring
Provost's Advisory Committee on Faculty Mentoring and Community Building
This committee, formed in 2001, had among their charges the task of "identifying strategies to improve support for faculty, improving awareness and understanding of mentoring, surveying faculty and administrators regarding their experiences with and their needs for mentoring, and identifying ways that central administration can encourage and facilitate mentoring." The report posted here includes appendices with detailed outlines for five different approaches.
Visit: Provost's Advisory Committee on Faculty Mentoring and Community Building
Women in Science and Engineering
Upper level women graduate students serve as trained peer advisors and are available to assist and advise incoming women graduate students. Peer advisors for each department provide information and make referrals.
Visit: Women in Science and Engineering

Resources at Other Universities and Organizations

How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors
Source: Association for Computing Machinery
Crossroads, the student magazine produced by this organization, published this article that "attempts to raise some issues that are important for graduate students to be successful …The intent is not to provide prescriptive advice -- no formulas for finishing a thesis or twelve-step programs for becoming a better advisor are given -- but to raise awareness on both sides of the advisor-student relationship as to what the expectations are and should be for this relationship, what a graduate student should expect to accomplish, common problems, and where to go if the advisor is not forthcoming."
Visit: How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors
Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering
Source: National Academy of Sciences
This short book (available both in print and online) has ample material of use to all who mentor students engaged in graduate study and research. It includes lists of basic tips, samples of poor and good mentoring styles, related facts to provide context, and chapter summaries.
Visit: Advisor, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering
A Resource Guide for Ethnic Minority Graduate Students
Source: American Psychological Association of Graduate Students
This lengthy guide looks at general graduate school issues, those specific to ethnic minority students, describes the essential components of graduate school education, and advice about preparing for life after graduate school.
Visit: A Resource Guide for Ethnic Minority Graduate Students
Choosing a Thesis Lab
Source: Washington University in St. Louis
This is a very detailed article designed for students in the early stages of graduate study. Students are encouraged first to think carefully about their own personality and work style. Then there are sections on academic and other considerations about the PI, the lab in general and department requirements. It includes questions for the student to ask the PI, other students and department staff.
Visit: Choosing a Thesis Lab
Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors
Source: Association of American Medical Colleges
This document "is intended to initiate discussions at the local and national levels about the postdoctoral appointee-mentor relationship and the commitments necessary for a high quality postdoctoral training experience." While the compact was created for use in medical education and training, it is suitable to use as a template for mentoring postdoctoral students in other fields.
Visit: Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors
Mentoring for Graduate Students Tips for Faculty Mentors
Source: The University of Iowa, Graduate College
A succinct list of tips for mentoring for intellectual and career development, and good practices for research mentoring.
Visit: Mentoring for Graduate Students Tips for Faculty Mentors
Mentoring Resources for Graduate Students and Faculty
Source: University of Washington, The Graduate School
This is an adaptation of the Rackham mentoring guide, with substantial material drawn from the Re-envisioning the Ph.D. project, the Responsive Ph.D. Initiative, IGERT, and their own preparing future faculty programs.
Visit: Mentoring Resources for Graduate Students and Faculty
Nature's Guide for Mentors
Source: Nature Publishing Group
This article draws on material from nominations submitted for Nature's competition for their creative mentoring awards as the authors consider the personal characteristics sited. This is followed by a lively set of tips that are not presented as a magic formula but rather as examples of what really worked.
Visit: Nature's Guide for Mentors
Principles and Good Practices Concerning Research Mentoring
Source: University of Iowa, Graduate College
A succinct list of tips for mentoring for intellectual and career development, and good practices for research mentoring.
Visit: Principles and Good Practices Concerning Research Mentoring
Science Mentoring Research
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science
This is a rich site that includes general suggestions, guidelines, resources, information about mentoring awards and more.
Visit: Science Mentoring Research