The Role of the Adviser

Your adviser or Major Professor helps you plan your course of study and monitors your progress in the program. Your adviser helps you choose courses, develop the topic of your master’s thesis or prepare the reading list for your comprehensive examination. Your adviser should be knowledgeable about your area of interest and be someone with whom you can work productively and professionally. Talk to your adviser at least twice a semester about your progress. Your adviser also conducts your Academic Review.

Keep in mind that faculty members must focus on preparing and teaching courses, conducting research, publishing, and guiding students in their own research. They may also serve as advisers for multiple students at the same time. When you have specific questions about requirements or procedures, contact the Director of Graduate Studies first. She or he should be able to answer routine inquiries and provide you with information or forms that will answer most of your questions, thereby saving valuable time for you and your adviser to discuss research problems and intellectual issues pertaining to your area of study.

Choosing an Adviser

The Director of Graduate Studies provides initial advising in selecting courses and assists in selecting a Major Professor for long-term advising; the Director may assign a provisional graduate adviser before students select a Major Professor.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you choose an adviser:

  • Select an adviser who publishes in the field of history you are most interested in and with whom you have a good collaborative relation.
  • Select someone who is enthusiastic about your work and readily offers help.
  • Approach on someone you respect as a scholar/teacher.

As your interests become more focused and you progress through your program, you may find that you want to change advisers, which is not uncommon. If you want to change advisers, ask the faculty member you want to work with if he or she is willing to be your adviser. Explain the reason for your request. If the faculty member agrees, tell the Director of Graduate Studies. You also need to let your former adviser know about the change.