The Graduate School Advance to a Higher Degree

Mentoring, Advising, and Reporting

Mentoring: The Graduate Student-Faculty Relationship

One of the most important parts of the graduate student experience is the mentoring they receive from their major professor, as well as the numerous other individuals that can positively impact them. Purdue University and the Graduate School want every graduate student to have a rich and meaningful graduate experience. For that to happen, students need effective mentors. This page provides Purdue University’s guidelines for graduate student mentoring and advising. Additionally, the section at the bottom of the page provide numerous links for faculty and students to learn more about effective mentoring practices and mentoring relationships.

Purdue University Guiding Principles for Mentoring

As explained in the Guidelines for Graduate Student Mentoring and Advising:

A good student-advisor relationship is an important ingredient in helping students to be productive in their research and requires establishing reasonable expectations. While it is difficult to define “reasonable expectations” in a broad sense, the following principles and practices can be helpful in achieving a positive climate for discovery in which graduate students can thrive.

  1. Major professors should take care in not overburdening their graduate students: there should be realistic expectations, recognizing that students have the right to a personal and social life outside of work and time off, periodically, to rest and relax. Major professors should avoid working conditions that preclude their students from having a manageable work-life balance, as this is not in the best interest of Purdue’s graduate students.
  2. The best major professors are understanding, supportive, and empowering. They provide enough guidance to allow students to explore and discover without over directing or micromanaging. Students should be encouraged by their major professors to interact with their advisory and examining committees, as these committee members can provide multiple perspectives that can be beneficial. They should also encourage other types of mentoring relationships where appropriate.
  3. The best major professors put their students first amid competing priorities.
  4. Students should be given opportunities to attend and participate in professional development activities, as these are important to prepare them for the competitive job market.
  5. Projects in which faculty members involve students should be appropriate and consistent with providing a valuable educational, work or research experience.
  6. There should be clear expectations and differentiation of the work related to the assistantship duties versus work toward the graduate degree.

Reporting Detrimental/Questionable Graduate Mentoring Practices

Graduate students who are experiencing mentoring relationships that are not aligned with these guiding principles should either report these behaviors to the chair of the department or head of the graduate departmental program OR anonymously report contradictory behaviors to the University Hotline at 1-866-818-2620 or via the web at

Additional Materials on Graduate Mentoring

Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 170 | 155  S. Grant Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114 | 765-494-2600

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