Advising & Mentoring PhD Students


Guidelines for Students, Faculty and Administrators at the University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Produced by the Office of the Provost
University of Pennsylvania
Spring 2018
Updated July 2022


This publication is intended to provide graduate students, faculty, and graduate groups with guidelines that promote good mentoring relationships between faculty advisors and graduate students. By clarifying expectations and responsibilities, we hope to reduce frustration and conflicts and foster productive research experiences for our doctoral students.

While models of mentoring relationships can vary across graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania, there are general guidelines, policies, and approaches that apply to all graduate programs. These guidelines provide students with direction on choosing an advisor, establishing a dissertation committee and maintaining productive working relationships. Students and faculty can find information about their respective roles and responsibilities in this important relationship as well as advice on conflict resolution and links to important policies.

This publication, based on one produced at the University of Toronto, is intended to promote conversations between faculty and students regarding their mutual expectations. While it focuses almost exclusively on the dissertation stage, recent studies indicate that good advising and mentoring that begin early in the student’s career facilitate expeditious degree completion.  Generally, each graduate program will provide a program-specific handbook detailing course and examination requirements, regulations, procedures and expectations of both students and faculty, from matriculation through graduation. Our hope is that this publication will support that effort and can serve as a starting point for further action. 

Beth A Winkelstein, PhD, Deputy Provost
The Graduate Council of the Faculties

The Council of Graduate Deans

Spring 2018

Sections of this publication are based on “Graduate Supervision Guidelines for Students, Faculty and Administrators” (2002) produced by the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. We are grateful for their willingness to allow us to use and revise this work. 

Comments on this publication may be directed to the Vice Provost for Education at