Graduate supervision

The supervisor-student relationship is central to the graduate student experience.

  • The Faculty of Graduate Studies has a specific policy on responsibilities in the supervisory relationship.
  • The graduate advisor (and in some cases the associate dean of graduate studies) can answer questions about the supervisory relationship, the role of student, the role of supervisor, the role and involvement of the committee, frequency of meetings or feedback, etc. They can help you problem-solve.
  • See also your program’s graduate handbook or graduate regulations.
  • The ombudsperson can help you confidentially to resolve a supervisory issue or dispute.

Tips for building a healthy relationship with your supervisor

  • Talk to a potential supervisor and to their students before starting to work together.
  • Get to know the person’s work in the field and their working style.
  • Know what your own preferences or needs are in terms of research area, supervision and feedback, and make sure it is going to be a “good fit.”
  • Meet in person to establish expectations about the subject matter, progress, feedback, and deadlines; clarify what is flexible and what isn’t.
  • Discuss how you will communicate and how you will resolve any conflicts.
  • Don’t rely only on email. Use phone and in-person meetings too.
  • Follow in-person meetings with an email or written note to confirm or clarify expectations, deadlines or agreements.
  • Keep your emails and keep notes about your meetings.
  • Make sure you keep in contact and inform your supervisor of circumstances that may affect your performance, such as illness or family emergency.

See the ombudsperson’s graduate guide to find more about

  • other common issues for which graduate students consult the ombudsperson
  • what to do if you face an illness, family or personal difficulty or affliction
  • other important regulations and resources for graduate students at UVic


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