Questions To Consider In Selecting A Dissertation
These questions have been adapted from a document prepared by the
Graduate School, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
- .....Is the advisor an expert in the area of research
or scholarship that you intend to pursue? Is his/her critical or
theoretical orientation consistent with yours?
- ..... How much freedom will you have in your choice
of dissertation topic with this advisor?
- .....What is the reputation of the advisor wihin the
- .....How responsive is the advisor? How long does it
take him/her to return written material with comments?
- .....How accessible is the advisor for discussion?
- .....Is the advisor likely to remain on the faculty for
the duration of your degree work?
- .....How many students does he/she advise? If none,
why? If a large number, does this affect the attention that he/she pays
to individual students?
- .....How much time does he/she spend away from
campus? Is he/she available during the summer?
- .....How long do students take to complete their
degrees with this advisor?
- .....What proportion of this advisor's students
successfully complete the program?
- .....What is the placement record of this advisor's
students? Where do they get jobs?
- .....Does the advisor publish with his/her students
as first author?
- .....How many publications does the typical student
accumulate with this advisor?
- .....Do the advisor's students go to disciplinary or
- .....Do the advisor's students make presentations of
their own work at conferences? Do they make presentations of joint work
with the advisor?
- .....How much interaction is there with other
advisees of this faculty member? Does he/she direct a research group or
rather a series of individuals?
- .....How much of the research is collaborative with
the advisor and/or other advisees?
- .....How much involvement is expected in
"group"research projects that are not appropriate for inclusion in your
dissertation? How much of this contributes to your professional
development and marketability?
- .....How is credit for collaborative work assigned?
- .....Is the advisor engaged in patentable or saleable
work? If so, how does he/she assign credit to the student? Does this work
get published promptly?
- .....Is the advisor's work funded? What are the
guarantees of funding for the advisor's students? Do the advisor's
students get summer support?
- .....Does the advisor assist his/her students in
obtaining their own funding from outside sources such as fellowship
- .....Does the advisor have good relations with other
faculty in the program?
- .....Does the advisor have a reputation for ethical
- .....Are the advisor's work habits compatible with
Choosing Your Advisor
The Office of the Provost