Graduate Student–Faculty Adviser Relationship Guidelines

The University of California, Santa Cruz, expects professional, fair, and frequent communication between graduate students and their advisers. Open communication and mutual respect should be the foundation of the relationship between a graduate student and faculty adviser. The graduate adviser and the graduate student should discuss their student-adviser relationship early, and clearly communicate mutual and agreeable expectations from the beginning. Regular interactions, especially face-to-face meetings, are essential in ensuring that expectations and goals are met.

In an optimal learning environment, the faculty adviser should provide timely and constructive feedback on performance and expectations; timely and sufficient warning of inadequate performance; appropriate recognition of a student’s intellectual contributions; and academic and professional advice on all stages of the graduate career. The graduate student should be an active participant in seeking advice and getting feedback on progress, keeping the faculty adviser informed of plans, progress, and obstacles, and contributing during regular progress assessments. The faculty adviser and the student each have the duty and responsibility to initiate meetings as necessary to foster and protect the success of the relationship.

Professionalism and fairness should guide the graduate student–faculty adviser relationship. Graduate students and faculty should avoid relationships that conflict with their particular roles and responsibilities. Faculty advisers and graduate students are bound by policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment. Graduate students may be entitled to accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (See Appendix E: Policies and Regulations and Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policies.) When concerns and conflicts arise, they should be raised and attended to professionally, honestly, and promptly. Retaliation and discrimination against students for raising concerns are prohibited.

If something happens that upsets the faculty adviser–graduate student relationship and cannot be resolved either by direct or indirect discussion, a graduate student can seek assistance from a trusted faculty member, the dean of graduate studies, the graduate director, the department chair, conflict resolution, counseling and psychological services, and/or the Title IX Office. Graduate students may request confidentiality. Many departments have developed processes to address a range of potential concerns. For information about grievance and appeal procedures, see Appendix E: Policies and Regulations and Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policies. For a description of additional informal and formal grievance and appeal processes available to UCSC graduate students, please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook.