Mentoring Guidelines

Graduate Council recognizes that the mentoring of graduate students by faculty is an integral part of the graduate experience for both. Faculty mentoring is broader than advising a student about the program of study to fulfill coursework requirements, and is distinct from formal instruction in a given discipline.

Faculty members have a responsibility to mentor graduate students. Mentoring encompasses more than serving as a role model, however. The UC Davis Graduate Council has outlined mentoring roles to clarify the relationship between faculty members and graduate students.

While the major professor serves as the primary mentor throughout a student's career at UC Davis, program faculty other than the major professor may perform many of the mentoring functions defined below. An important corollary to this recognition is that faculty members must realize that much of their interaction with all students has an important mentoring component to it. Graduate students also have responsibilities to insure successful mentoring.

Mentoring has numerous components and can take many forms:

I.  Guiding students through degree requirements. This means:

  1.  Providing a clear map of program requirements from the beginning, articulating the nature of the coursework requirements and qualifying examination, and defining a timeline for their completion.
  2. Providing clear guidelines for starting and finishing dissertation or thesis work, including encouraging the timely initiation of the dissertation or thesis research.

II. Guiding students through thesis or dissertation research. This means:

  1. Evaluating clearly the strengths and weaknesses of the student's research.
  2. Encouraging an open exchange of ideas, including pursuit of the student's ideas. 
  3. Checking regularly on progress.
  4. Critiquing written work.
  5. Providing and discussing clear criteria for authorship of collaborative research.
  6. Assisting in finding sources to support dissertation research, such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships.
  7. Being aware of each student's research needs, and offering assistance in obtaining required resources — for example, serving as the student's advocate for necessary desk and/or laboratory space.

III. Guiding students through professional development. This means:

  1. Providing guidance and serving as a role model for upholding the highest ethical standards.
  2. Treating students respectfully.
  3. Encouraging and critiquing oral and written presentations. 
  4. Encouraging participation in professional meetings of regional groups as well as of learned societies.
  5. Facilitating interactions with other scholars, on campus and in the wider professional community.
  6. Assistance with applications for research funding, fellowship applications and other applications, as appropriate for the respective discipline.
  7. Being the student's advocate in academic and professional communities.
  8. Offering career guidance, specifically assistance in preparation of CV and job interviews, and writing letters of recommendation in a timely manner.
  9. Recognizing and giving value to the idea that a variety of career options are available to the student in her or his field of interest, and accepting that the student's choice of career options is worthy of your support. Examples include guiding the student to teaching opportunities when appropriate for the student's goals.
As partners in the mentoring relationship, graduate students have responsibilities. As mentees, students should:

I.  Be aware of their own mentoring needs and how they change through their graduate tenure. Graduate students should discuss these changing needs with their mentors.

II. Recognize that one faculty member may not be able to satisfy all of a student's mentoring needs. Seek assistance from multiple individuals and organizations to fulfill the mentoring roles described above.

III. Recognize that their mentoring needs must respect their mentor's other responsibilities and time commitments.

IV. Maintain and seek regular communication with their mentors, especially their major professor.


Approved by UC Davis Graduate Council, June 24, 1999