What is an Adviser?
The adviser is the faculty member who gets to know the student best. Using his or her knowledge of the student, gained over the course of many conversations and interactions, the adviser seeks to match the student's interests and strengths with opportunities in his or her field of study. Ideally, the adviser's special knowledge of the student's abilities should enable the adviser to be an effective advocate for the student, assuring that the student is not distracted into emphasizing aspects of the program that do not further his or her goals.
In most majors, an important responsibility of the adviser early in the program is to advise the student on the choice of elective courses. For this purpose, the adviser needs to be available to the student during the November and April advising periods, leading up to the submission of the update to the individual study plan. The adviser must sign the plan and the student's registration before the student submits the plan on December 1 and May 1. Because the plan often involves the many decisions that will require consultation and deliberation, the student is asked to seek an appointment with the adviser early in the advising period. Students who miss the December 1 and May 1 deadlines are subject to late fees and may be unable to take some classes.
By helping the student plan all their course work early in the first year and helping the student update the plan each semester, the adviser helps the program as a whole plan its curriculum. The Program Director and the departments can plan ahead for course offerings using the Program Office's file of study plans.
The adviser should make sure that the student is well advised for the research papers they write during the first two summers. Advising for these papers starts well before the summer, usually in January. Often the adviser is the supervisor for these papers, although this is not necessarily the case.
The adviser can also help the student develop their teaching plan. Every student in our program must teach at least one section of an undergraduate course for the Rutgers Business School in order to graduate, and many of our students teach extensively, whether as teaching assistants, as part-time lecturers, or as instructors. During the November advising period each year, those students who have not had teaching experience in the United States before entering the program are asked develop a plan for acquiring the skills needed to teach for the first time. This training plan, which must be approved by the chair of the student’s department, may include working as an assistant for a professor and giving presentations under their supervision. It also normally includes participating in a teacher training seminar on Monday mornings during the spring semester when or just before the student teaches their own section for the first time.
The adviser should also be concerned with making sure that the student develops their writing skills. The adviser should monitor the student's progress towards satisfying the English and Writing Proficiency Requirement, and in cases where the student needs additional work, the adviser may recommend to the Program Director that additional course work in English be required.
The adviser should encourage and help the student in applying for funding. This includes helping the student identify sources of outside fellowships for fifth-year support and mentoring the student in the application process.
When the student takes the qualifying examination, the adviser should make sure that the qualifying examination committee is fully aware of the nature of the course work that the student has taken to prepare for the examination. Students are asked to keep the syllabi from all their courses and to supply copies of these syllabi to the Departmental Coordinator and to the chair of the qualifying examination committee before the examination is scheduled, and the adviser should make sure that this is done. The adviser should also make sure that student completes the first page of the Advancement to Candidacy Form and supplies this form to the chair of the qualifying examination committee before the examination. The form should be returned to the program office, signed by all members of the examination committee, promptly after the examination.
Can I choose my Adviser?
Although the Program Director and the Departmental Coordinator have a responsibility to identify an initial adviser for a student, the student ultimately has the right to choose their own adviser. Students are urged by the program, and should also be urged by their advisers, to acquaint themselves with the interests and abilities of all members of the doctoral faculty for their major. They may do this by studying the curriculum vitae available in the Program Office, by studying the personal web sites of faculty members, and by attending the departmental seminars where faculty members interact with each other and with visiting scholars. The adviser should also help the students understand the strengths and weaknesses of all their colleagues.
The student has the right to change advisers at any time, but it is important, in order to avoid misunderstandings, that the student be completely honest at all times with their adviser about their interests and about the possibilities they are considering. A request to change advisers should never come as a surprise.
After the student passes the qualifying examination, the adviser has the responsibility to help the student identify a dissertation topic. Before a dissertation proposal is defended, the Program Director must appoint a dissertation committee for the student, consisting of at least four members—at least three members of the doctoral faculty and at least one outside member. The Director is responsible for making sure that the committee and the chair are qualified, on the basis of publications and other recognition, to provide first-rate guidance to the student in the area in which the student proposes to work. The student's choice of a chair, as well as the choice of the other members, is therefore contingent on approval by the Director. Once the Committee is appointed, its chair is the student's adviser.
Immediately after the student passes the proposal defense, the written proposal should be deposited in the Program Office, along with a completed Proposal Defense Form, which includes a one-paragraph statement by the adviser explaining (1) what the committee told the student and (2) what needs to be done in order to turn the proposal into an acceptable dissertation.