Every graduate student must have an advisor and a committee.


Every graduate student must have an advisor who is responsible for monitoring his or her academic progress. The selection of an advisor and the relationship between the advisor and the advisee are critical during the entire process. The Department assigns each student entering the program a temporary, first year advisor, who serves only until the student has become affiliated with a research advisor.

By the end of the first year, the student must have identified a research advisor. The research advisor directs the student in the preparation of the Master’s Paper, guides the student’s doctoral research, and chairs the Examination Committee at the Qualifying Exam, the Candidacy Exam, and the Doctoral Thesis Defense.

The student/advisor relationship is a central aspect of the graduate program. To maintain the effectiveness of this relationship, requires the ongoing consent of both parties – either party can withdraw from the relationship by notifying the Director of Graduate Studies. It is not uncommon for students to change advisors and research areas after finishing their Qualifying Phase.

Students must have a research advisor to stay in good standing in the program. Students who are having difficulty finding an advisor should seek the help of the Director of Graduate Studies or the Department Chair.

Requirements for Advisors

The student’s advisor must meet specific departmental requirements.

Advisors must be a

  1. A tenure-track or tenured member of the CS faculty – Full-time Assistant, Associate or Full Professor in the Department;
  2. Part-time Assistant, Associate or Full Professor in the Department, or or Research Professors at the Associate or Full Professor level in the Department;
  3. Other scientists, approved by the full CS faculty to serve as advisor of a specific student (see below).

Students with an advisor who is not in the first of the categories above (a tenure-track or tenured faculty in the Department) should have a student advocate, a voting member of the faculty who represents the interests of the student within the Department, and provides a liaison between the advisor and the Department. The student advocate must be a member of the student’s committee.

The third category is included for the case when a student finds that their research would be well served by a scientist who is a leader in advancing the intellectual agenda of computing, yet is not a member of the Computer Science Department.

In this case, the student should find a tenure-track or tenured member of the faculty to become their advocate. This student advocate should propose to the faculty approval of the scientist as (research) advisor, and agree to act as an advocate for the student within the Department. The student advocate must also serve in the student’s committee.

The requirement of having a student advocate also applies to advisors who are part-time faculty. Part-time faculty have already been welcomed to the Department, but both them and the student can benefit from an advocate who regularly attends faculty meetings, and is aware of Departmental opportunities and events.

A student may have two research advisors, who share duties equally as co-advisors. In this case it is sufficient for only one of the advisors to be in the first category above (a tenure-track or tenured professor in the Department.)

While advisors will monitor their students’ progress, it is ultimately the students’ responsibility to ensure that they meet the requirements of the program.


Each graduate student will also have an Examination Committee consisting of at least three members, including the student’s advisor(s). The committee must be acceptable to both the student and the advisor, and at least half of the members of the committee must be members of the departmental faculty. Students should form this committee once they have identified an advisor and a master’s paper topic. As with the student/advisor relationship, membership in the Examination Committee requires the ongoing consent of the student and the committee members.

The Graduate Committee shall be notified of all changes in advisor or Examination Committee status.