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Ph.D. adviser or Ph.D. advisor?

I think I have seen it spelled both ways.

Is one spelling more common or formal than the other ? (e.g. in the U.S.)

Amelio Vazquez-Reina's user avatar

3 Answers 3

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary (that I have by default on my Mac :)):

The spellings adviser and advisor are both correct. Adviser is more common, but advisor is also widely used, especially in North America. Adviser may be seen as less formal, while advisor often suggests an official position.

Since it's an official position, I'd rather go for Ph.D. advisor

I grew up learning the spelling as "advisor," which goes along with "supervisor." I've never seen "superviser," either, and "adviser" just looks strange to me.

This may actually be a field-dependent issue: in academia, I've always seen "advisor" as the preferred spelling (and a number of schools agree with that assessment ). However, outside of academic contexts, "adviser" seems to be preferred, both in the UK and the US, as shown here .

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In my high school, my teacher said it is British English Vs American English.

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Advisor vs. Adviser | Definition, Difference & Examples

Published on November 3, 2022 by Tegan George .

Advisor and adviser are different spellings of the same word. Both are considered acceptable spellings, though there is some regional variation.

His vast combat experience made him a sought-after military adviser in the private sector.

Jane had worked as an academic advisor at the local college for many years and was beloved by the students.

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According to AP Style, adviser is the correct spelling. But other sources such as Merriam-Webster list both advisor and adviser as equally correct. Just pick one and be consistent in your writing.

According to sources such as Merriam-Webster, you can use both PhD advisor and PhD adviser. They are both considered to be equally correct. A good rule of thumb is just to pick either advisor and adviser , and be consistent in your writing.

According to sources such as Merriam-Webster, you can use both college advisor and college adviser. They are both considered to be equally correct. A good rule of thumb is just to pick either advisor and adviser , and be consistent in your writing.

According to sources such as Merriam-Webster, you can use both financial advisor and financial adviser. They are both considered to be equally correct. A good rule of thumb is just to pick either advisor and adviser , and be consistent in your writing.

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Advisor vs Adviser

What is the proper spelling: adviser or advisor?  In case both versions are correct, what is the difference between these English nouns?

In fact, there is no crucial difference between the two words. You can use either of them and neither will be a mistake. “Adviser” is more common in Great Britain and is considered more conventional, while “advisor” is a newer version employed mostly by Americans. Both nouns are derived from the verb “to advise” which is also often correlated with “advice”. In the latter case, however, spelling is critical for the meaning.

Nevertheless, let’s get back to the subject. The words “adviser” and “advisor” are used to denote a person or a company that offers professional advice, usually in a particular field.  They can also mean an official who helps a company CEO or a manager as well as a private business or even a country’s president. Dictionaries define the term as follows:

Advisor vs Adviser Usage Examples:

He was employed as a financial adviser by a world-known company when he was rather young.

Today, the National Security Advisor of the USA has presented a foreign policy efficiency enhancement plan.

James Bullock, an art collector, hired a personal art adviser hoping that he would save his time when negotiating with galleries.

If you look through a number documents, newspapers and magazines, you will find both versions. For example, Associated Press, one of the largest international information and news agencies, writes “adviser”; the Forbes’ editors use “advisor”; the United Nations always prefer “Special Advisors” while the US government uses both spellings. Nevertheless, “adviser” is much more common. According to the statistics, in the USA, “adviser” can be found 20 times as frequently as “advisor”, while in Britain it is used 6 times as frequently. Despite this, “adviser” is listed in most British, American, Canadian and Australian dictionaries.

President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, urged Pakistani civilian and military leaders on Sunday to do more to stop militants from using Pakistani territory to stage attacks in neighboring countries. –New York Times

“You don’t just buy your art, you buy your advisor and then your advisor tells you what to do.” – BBC

The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, one of US president George Bush’s most trusted lieutenants and a strong advocate of the invasion of Iraq, made the concession during a series of interviews on major American news programmes. – The Guardian.

Although both forms are acceptable, most dictionaries, writers and scientists prefer the -er spelling, while -or is more common in news headlines and American publications in press, especially those of North America. So, it is up to you to decide which one to use. It is just a matter of taste. However, the use of both spellings in a single text should be avoided. If you are going to write an article, a news report or another kind of text, think about your readers, consider your location and that of your audience, select the version you find suitable and stick to it.

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Faculty: Guide for Thesis Advisors

The following guidelines are provided for faculty who have been asked to serve as thesis advisors for candidates for the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) degree.

This degree is conferred jointly by the David C. Frederick Honors College and the home school of the candidate (e.g., Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, College of General Studies, Swanson School of Engineering, College of Business Administration, School of Nursing, etc.). In most cases the degree title of "Bachelor of Philosophy" replaces the standard bachelor's degree a student would receive, but some schools (e.g., Swanson School of Engineering and School of Nursing) retain the standard degree title jointly conferred by that school and the Frederick Honors College. Specific questions about the degree title should be referred to David Hornyak in the Frederick Honors College.

All candidates for the BPhil degree must satisfy the general degree requirements (curricular requirements) and the special degree requirements (independent scholarship).

General degree requirements

Students must complete the degree requirements of their home school and complete a program of study demonstrating that the student has not only met but also exceeded the requirements for a standard undergraduate departmental degree. This includes maintaining a 3.50 cumulative GPA (successful BPhil degree recipients in recent semesters have had an average GPA of 3.88).

In general, it is expected that the student’s curriculum will reflect significant breadth, depth, or focus around a coherent intellectual theme.

Special degree requirements

These requirements are to be met by the completion of a thesis. A student presents and defends his/her thesis before a faculty examining committee selected in conjunction with the thesis advisor. It is the expectation that the thesis advisor provides the student with the same research/scholarship experience as graduate students at the master's level in the thesis advisor's academic discipline and that the final thesis document be of the same caliber as a master's thesis in the discipline.

The Frederick Honors College divides the progress of a thesis into the following three rough stages:

Development of the project; Research and writing of the thesis; and Presentation and examination of the completed thesis.

Development of the project

During this stage, the thesis advisor should work closely with the student in developing a research topic and a plan for investigating it. Since the thesis will in many cases be the first substantial piece of independent scholarship the student has produced, the thesis advisor may need to provide the student with general assistance in research methods and strategies; in particular, the advisor should help the student to frame a question of reasonable scope. Moreover, the advisor will be invaluable in assuring that the work the student seeks to undertake is truly independent and of similar caliber to that of a graduate student at the master's level within the thesis advisor's academic discipline.

The advisor and student should develop a reasonable chronology, setting a number of short- and long-term deadlines for the completion of various stages of the project. This is an especially important role for the advisor since novice researchers may lack reliable intuitions as to the length of time that any particular part of the project is likely to require.

The advisor should take time to review the courses the student has yet to complete and to recommend other courses (within or outside the advisor’s department) that could be of benefit to the student. The advisor should also recommend other faculty with whom the student might consult as the details of the project become clearer. Once the project plan is in place, the student should submit an application to be admitted into BPhil degree candidacy to the Frederick Honors College.

Research and writing of the thesis

The advisor should be available to meet regularly with the student to evaluate the progress of his or her research, to discuss the problems that inevitably arise, and to provide whatever encouragement or direction proves necessary. These meetings should naturally evolve into regular meetings to review the student’s progress in writing the thesis. At this stage, too, the advisor may suggest that the student pursue additional formal course work in areas where further thought or expertise would be helpful.

It is the advisor’s responsibility to approve the student’s final draft of the thesis as complete prior to review by the examining committee. As previously noted, the thesis should be of similar caliber to that of a graduate thesis (master's level) within the faculty member's academic discipline. If the thesis advisor believes the student will not be able to defend the thesis successfully, the thesis advisor should stop the process at this point and not send a final draft of the thesis document to the examination committee.

Presentation and examination of the completed thesis

Before the student completes the thesis document, the student and advisor should begin to choose an examining committee. The thesis advisor has final authority over the composition of the examining committee. The committee will consist of four faculty members with relevant expertise: the thesis advisor, two University of Pittsburgh examiners, and an additional examiner from another institution within the United States (the external examiner must also be a US citizen). The thesis advisor assumes the role of the committee chair and is responsible for arranging the logistics of the examination.

The Frederick Honors College provides for the travel expenses and lodging of the outside examiner and provides an honorarium. The outside examiner, as a distinguished visitor to the University, should be available to present a lecture to the appropriate department.

(NOTE: For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, external examiners are not permitted to travel to campus for BPhil defenses; external examiners must participate in the defense remotely.)

The format for the presentation and examination is similar to that of a master’s or doctoral defense. The student presents an overview of his or her work in a speech open to the public in addition to the examining committee. Following a brief period during which the public may ask questions, the committee examines the candidate privately. The chair of the committee is responsible for dismissing the public and for convening and ending the examination. The chair also has charge of the ETD Approval Form and must secure the signatures of the committee.

Additional information

Thesis advisors may also find useful information on the this webpage:

Thesis Defense and Graduation Procedures

My Dissertation Editor

Choosing a Thesis Advisor: A Complete Guide

One of the most important choices that you will make about your dissertation or thesis happens before you write a single word. Choosing a thesis advisor or dissertation advisor (often referred to as a dissertation chair) will have a significant impact on your entire dissertation writing experience, and for many years to come. For many doctoral students, their thesis advisor is their single greatest influence in graduate school. 

Selecting a thesis advisor is a big decision with far-reaching implications. The stakes are very high, and it is imperative to choose your thesis advisor wisely. There are many factors to consider when choosing a thesis advisor, from expertise to personality, and it pays to think carefully and weigh your options before approaching a faculty member to chair your dissertation committee . While there are subtle differences between a dissertation chair and a thesis advisor, we’ll focus on the commonalities in this article.

These are commonly asked questions about selecting a thesis advisor: 

college professor explaining stuff to his student on a laptop

Thesis Advisor Responsibilities

While writing a dissertation is a largely solitary pursuit, a good thesis advisor will be with you every step of the way. While you are very much in the driver’s seat, it is your thesis advisor’s job to keep you off the guardrails. And deploy the airbag, if necessary. There are a few purposes that your thesis advisor will serve during your time together. 

Guidance . While the dissertation process is new to you, your thesis advisor will know it very well. She will help you navigate the obstacles and pitfalls that have derailed many projects–department politics, university regulations, funding, research opportunities, etc. Your thesis advisor will also serve as a sounding board as you distill the nebulous concept of your research project into a fully-formed idea that you can move forward with. 

Organization . A good thesis advisor will run a tight ship and keep your dissertation project moving like clockwork. As a researcher, it’s very easy to get lost in the minutiae of the literature, and it’s not difficult to find yourself trapped down a rabbit hole of scholarship. Regular milestones set by your thesis advisor are a great way to stay on track and maintain forward momentum. 

Mentorship. While an effective thesis advisor will ensure that you see your project to fruition, a great one will be with you for decades. Though I graduated with my Ph.D. in 2012 and I’m now an associate professor myself, my thesis advisor remains a guiding light in my career. Your thesis advisor can be a cornerstone of your professional network. 

red haired student explaining stuff in a classroom with her professor looking at her

Choosing a Thesis Advisor

So, how do you select a faculty member to chair your dissertation committee? With extreme care. Once you have set your sights on a dissertation chair or thesis advisor, the next step is the Big Ask. I remember being very nervous to approach the faculty member who became my chair– it seemed like such an imposition, but, as a grad student in her department, I was already on her radar. Keep in mind, your faculty members are expecting to be asked to chair dissertation committees, and they may even be a little flattered that you chose them. 

While chairing and serving on dissertation committees is a requirement for the tenured and senior faculty members in your department, it’s a lot of work. Make no mistake: accepting the role of your dissertation chair makes them nervous, too. As a faculty member, I can say with absolute certainty that a good dissertation chair will be almost as invested in your dissertation as you are. 

What Makes a Strong Thesis Advisor?

There exists a gulf between what many students desire in a dissertation chair or thesis advisor and what they actually need. While there may be a temptation to approach one of your department’s superstar faculty members to chair your committee, this may not serve you in the long term. Faculty members who have made a name for themselves through an abundance of publications, grants, awards, and conference appearances typically have jam-packed schedules, and it may be difficult for them to make you and your dissertation a priority. 

Dissertation Committee Member Mentoring Student

A safer bet that is likely to have a more rewarding outcome is to work with a faculty member who has already shown enthusiasm for your work. Select a thesis advisor who makes time for you, and one who always responds to your emails. This is the person you want in your corner during the sometimes stressful journey of researching and writing a dissertation. Also, it never hurts to spend some time talking to potential dissertation chairs or dissertation advisors. Get all of your questions answered, and then make a decision. 

What If It Doesn’t Work Out?

The possibility that your thesis advisor is a bad fit for your project or is incompatible for some other reason is a worst-case scenario that lurks in the furthest reaches of every graduate student’s mind. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: this is not a good situation to be in, and it can derail dissertations. The soundest strategy for dealing with an internecine conflict with your thesis advisor is prevention. 

This is why it is vital to do your homework and put a lot of thought into choosing your thesis advisor. Find someone you are compatible with and make sure you’re on the same page. Check in with them regularly, and keep them updated. Clear communication is a great way to ensure a solid partnership with your dissertation chair. Don’t forget, your dissertation chair should also be making your success a priority. You should be comfortable enough to ask questions and let them know what’s on your mind. 

The good news is that a bad fit isn’t likely to happen. Most grad students have a completely workable relationship with their dissertation chairs, and for many it turns into a long friendship built on mutual respect and admiration. Personally, every time I serve on a doctoral student’s dissertation committee, I feel a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction when they take their place in the academic world. It’s truly an honor to help them achieve such a major milestone in their academic career, and I’m delighted to be part of it. 

Related posts:

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Courtney Watson, Ph.D.

Courtney Watson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of English at Radford University Carilion, in Roanoke, Virginia. Her areas of expertise include undergraduate and graduate curriculum development for writing courses in the health sciences and American literature with a focus on literary travel, tourism, and heritage economies. Her writing and academic scholarship has been widely published in places that include  Studies in American Culture ,  Dialogue , and  The Virginia Quarterly Review . Her research on the integration of humanities into STEM education will be published by Routledge in an upcoming collection. Dr. Watson has also been nominated by the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Rising Star Award, and she is a past winner of the National Society of Arts & Letters Regional Short Story Prize, as well as institutional awards for scholarly research and excellence in teaching. Throughout her career in higher education, Dr. Watson has served in faculty governance and administration as a frequent committee chair and program chair. As a higher education consultant, she has served as a subject matter expert, an evaluator, and a contributor to white papers exploring program development, enrollment research, and educational mergers and acquisitions.

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thesis adviser or advisor

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How to Choose a Thesis Advisor

Choosing a thesis advisor is the most important decision of your life--perhaps more important than choosing a spouse--because your choice affects everything you will do in your career. Indeed, choosing an advisor is similar to getting married: it is making a long-term commitment. Unlike marriage, however, a good advising relationship should end successfully within a few years. Also, unlike husband and wife, the advisor and student do not start as equals. At first, the relationship is essentially an apprenticeship. But although you start as an apprentice, ideally, you should end as a colleague.

As you consider which professor might serve as an advisor, you should first formulate your goals in undertaking thesis research. A thesis demonstrates your ability to make an original, significant contribution to the corpus of human knowledge. Through your thesis project, you develop skills useful in any career: critical reading of the scholarly or scientific literature, formulation and solution of a problem, clear written and oral communication of the results. Furthermore, you learn the practices of a particular scholarly community: theoretical frameworks and experimental paradigms, publication processes, and standards of professional behavior. You learn how to present a paper at a seminar or a conference, and how to give and receive criticism.

You should seek a thesis advisor who can help you meet your goals, and whose working style is compatible with yours. Here are some specific steps that you can take to find an advisor.

Take a course with a potential advisor, possibly individual study. In an individual study course, you can learn about the professor's working style, with a limited, one semester commitment between you and the professor. The individual study course might involve directed reading, with the goal of producing a survey article that could serve as the basis for a thesis. Or the individual study course might involve a small project in the professor's laboratory.

Ask for copies of grant proposals that describe research projects of possible interest to you. A grant proposal states research problems, explains the importance of the problems in the context of other research, and describes recent progress, including the professor's contributions. Usually, a proposal includes references to journal articles and books that you can look up. You do not need the budget part of the proposal, which contains confidential information about salaries.

Consider working with two advisors. If you are interested in an interdisciplinary project, then you could engage two official advisors, one in each discipline. Even if you choose only one official advisor, you may occasionally seek advice from a second professor, who can provide an alternate perspective. Some departments institutionalize this practice by requiring that the chair of a doctoral committee be different from the thesis advisor. Discuss these arrangements with both professors openly, to minimize possible misunderstandings about each professor's role.

Interview a potential advisor. Before the interview, read some articles written by the professor so that you can ask intelligent questions about the professor's research interests. Prepare several questions such as the following.

What are the professor's standards and expectations for the quality of the thesis, such as the overall length? Will the professor help formulate the research topic?

How quickly will the professor review drafts of manuscripts? Will the professor help you improve writing and speaking skills? Will the professor encourage publication of your work?

Will the professor provide equipment and materials? Will the professor obtain financial support such as funds to travel to conferences or research assistantships? Will the professor help you find appropriate employment? Where have former students gone?

What will your responsibilities be? Will you write proposals or make presentations to research sponsors?

How frequently will you meet with the professor? The most common problem in the humanities and social sciences is insufficiently frequent contact with the advisor. I meet with each of my own thesis students individually for one hour each week, in addition to a weekly group meeting.

What are the obligations to the project funding source? How frequently are reports required? Are deliverables promised? Could publications be delayed by a patent filing? Are there potential conflicts of interest?

How will decisions on co-authorship of papers be made? In engineering and natural sciences, co-authorship is common, but practices vary by discipline. Sometimes, the advisor's name always goes last. Sometimes, the order of names is alphabetical. Sometimes, the first author is the person whose contribution was greatest.

Interview former students. Students who have graduated are more likely to answer your questions candidly than current students. Ask a potential advisor for names and e-mail addresses of former students, whom you can contact.

Was a former student's project unnecessarily prolonged? Did anyone not finish? Why not? Many projects suffer unanticipated delays. Occasionally, for various reasons--not always the advisor's fault--students do not finish theses and dissertations.

How were conflicts resolved? When you work closely with someone else, disagreements are inevitable. The key question is whether conflicts were handled respectfully, with satisfactory resolutions.

If you have a major conflict with your advisor, first attempt to find solutions within you department, consulting another trusted professor, other members of your committee, or the department head. Should you be unable to find a solution by working with people in your department, be assured that we in the Graduate College are available to help mediate conflicts. Fortunately, major conflicts are rare. It is most likely that you will enjoy a successful, intellectually satisfying thesis project.

Choosing a Dissertation Advisor


While some graduate groups may assign an advisor to a student upon admission to the program, in many graduate groups the responsibility for finding a dissertation advisor rests with the student. The choice of a faculty member who will supervise the dissertation work required to fulfill degree requirements is one of the most critical decisions a graduate student will make. A student will spend several years working with the faculty member of choice, and that choice will significantly affect the direction of the student’s career. Choosing a dissertation advisor, therefore, is an extremely important decision for doctoral students, although it is not immutable, as will be discussed later.

A student undertaking dissertation work needs an advisor who will be not only academically competent in a particular area but also willing to act as the student’s advocate when necessary. It is important that the student be able to work and communicate effectively with the advisor and not feel overwhelmed or intimidated in the relationship. Dissertation work can be lonely and isolating, and support from an advisor can be a crucial connection.  Each student requires the guidance of someone who will stimulate thought, who has sufficient interest in the student’s topic to produce new insights jointly, and who will challenge the student to think in a novel manner about the research.

Obtaining Information on Potential Advisors

Advisors generally serve as the dissertation supervisor. Students should be familiar with the University rules about who can supervise dissertation research and serve on a dissertation committee.  Several resources and strategies can help students identify an appropriate faculty advisor, as follows.

The graduate group website or handbook is a valuable source of information on potential advisors. Many graduate groups have developed websites that profile affiliated faculty members, including their areas of research, recent publications, and other academic activities. Literature searches can provide further information on the publications and preferred journals of particular faculty members. The graduate group chair can also provide valuable advice on potential advisors and can help students to become familiar with any specific graduate group policies on supervision.

Students can get to know potential advisors by taking a course, doing a lab rotation, acting as a teaching assistant, and/or attending seminars and other presentations by the faculty member.

Graduate students currently working with the potential advisor are an invaluable source of information. Students who are working or have worked with a particular advisor can be asked about their experience with that advisor and about the advisor’s expectations and working methods. Getting to know these students is also useful because anyone choosing to work with a faculty advisor would likely have close, future interactions with their students. Talking to multiple students is always encouraged given the possibly strong and differing opinions one might hear.

Students should make an appointment to meet potential advisors. Meeting a potential advisor is an essential step in determining whether a faculty member would be a good fit in terms of mentoring and interpersonal style and research interested. The following is a list of issues that might be covered in such a meeting: 

These questions are designed to help the student and the potential advisor determine whether a good match exists. Where appropriate, the student may also want to ask about the order of authorship on publications and intellectual property issues.

For students who are able to pick an advisor, the choice of a dissertation advisor is a decision to be made with a great deal of care and consideration. Discussion of the topics listed above will also give faculty members a sense of what students expect in terms of meetings, feedback, turn-around time on submitted work, etc. Taking time to explore these issues should result in a productive relationship for both student and advisor that culminates in a dissertation of original research, completed within a reasonable period of time.

Changing Advisors

There may be situations in which a student must change advisors. Some situations are beyond the student’s control; for example, when an advisor leaves the University or otherwise becomes unavailable. In other situations, the student may want to choose a different advisor; for example, if the focus of the research project changes to something outside of the current advisor’s expertise, or if work styles do not mesh well.

In these latter situations, students should understand that while there can be risks in changing advisors, it usually can be negotiated in a positive manner. Students deciding to change advisors should be sure to consult the graduate group for any specific policies and procedures that apply and be sure to ascertain if funding may change under a new advisor. Students should always be professional and respectful in interactions with the current advisor and potential new advisor and be certain that the proposed new advisor is willing and able to add them as a new advisee before discussing such a change with the current advisor. Students should focus discussions on interests and goals and not on negative incidents or difficulties. The potential new advisor, as well as leaders or other members of the graduate group, may have advice regarding how to broach this change with the current advisor.

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One of the most common questions the Undergraduate Program Office receives concerns how to find a suitable thesis adviser.

Government theses can be supervised by either faculty members or advanced graduate students in the Department. Often, undergraduates start their adviser search by talking with teachers whose classes they enjoyed. Was there a professor or TF who really inspired you, or with whom you felt you had established a good relationship? If so, you should feel free to reach out to them and ask if they’d be willing to sit down and discuss potential thesis projects.

The Government Department has also created a searchable database of potential thesis advisers. To use this tool, go to the “ People ” page on this website, scroll to the bottom of the right-hand column, and click on “Potential Senior Thesis Adviser.” You’ll now see a list of all thesis advisers in the department, and you can search within this list by subject matter, geographic region of study, methodological approach, and affiliation by clicking on the appropriate keywords. You can choose multiple different keywords to narrow the list, or hit the “-” sign next to a keyword to remove it and bring up a more expansive list of possible advisers. (As this search tool is new, we welcome your feedback on it! ) 

Your concentration adviser is a great resource for guidance about finding a thesis adviser and about the thesis-writing process generally. Feel free to reach out to them at any time to set up a meeting. 

Initial Meetings with Potential Thesis Advisers

It is often helpful to identify several possible thesis advisers and meet with them to discuss your ideas. Keep in mind that just as important as finding someone who is knowledgeable about your topic is finding an adviser with whom you’ll work well. Feel free to ask potential advisers about their availability in the upcoming year, as well as their expectations from advisees.

In your initial meetings, you don’t have to be worried about your topic not yet being fully developed—in fact, it is in the earliest stages of thinking about a research question that such mentoring conversations can often be most helpful. Think of this initial meeting or series of meetings as a fact-finding mission. You’re just talking through a potential topic, and you don’t have to ask the first person you speak with to be your adviser (though it’s always a good idea to ask if they can recommend other people for you to speak with as well).

By the way, don’t worry about writing to either faculty or graduate students “out of the blue”; they are aware juniors will be searching for advisers and won’t be surprised at all to hear from you. In fact, you’ll likely find them to be very happy to chat with you, even if they ultimately don’t end up advising your thesis.

Timeline for Finding an Adviser

You should start trying to identify potential advisers early; the ideal time to begin looking is late in the fall semester or very early in the spring semester of your junior year. Keep in mind that some deadlines for summer research grants are due as early as mid-February of your junior year, and having an adviser on board by this point can simplify the process of applying for funding. 

If you haven’t identified an appropriate thesis adviser by the end of your junior spring, please contact Dr. George Soroka , Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies,  to discuss your situation.

Deciding on an Adviser

As noted above, Government theses can be supervised by either faculty members or advanced graduate students in the Department. Depending on the project, it may even be possible to be advised by someone outside the Department, but you’ll need to talk this through with the DUS or ADUS and receive permission. Please note that joint concentrators typically have an adviser from each of their departments.

One question often asked is whether it’s better to have a faculty member or TF advising you. There is no clear answer; it truly depends on your topic and the person advising you. The one exception is if you know you want to go on for a PhD in the social sciences; in this case, having an established faculty member advise you (and hopefully write a strong letter of recommendation afterwards!) is preferable. Note, however, that many popular professors are forced to turn down advising requests each year, simply because too many students ask them. So again, it is in your interest to get the advising situation sorted as soon as possible.

Once you’ve found an appropriate thesis adviser, you should submit a signed thesis contract to the Government Undergraduate Office. (Note that there are different forms for TF and faculty advisers.) 

The Importance of a Good Working Relationship with your Adviser

Without a doubt, establishing a good working relationship with your thesis adviser is one of the most critical factors for thesis success. The k ey to this is r egular , for thr ight, and clear com m unication— b y both pa r ties. If you read through comments from past Hoopes Prize winners, they invariably talk about how important their advisers were in the thesis writing process. In contrast, poor thesis writing experiences are often linked to poor advising relationships. The best advice we can give you to speak to would-be advisers openly about your expectations and scholarly habits. Do you work best when you can sit with someone and throw ideas at the wall? Or do you need more directed guidance and deadlines to keep you on track? How often do you expect to meet with your adviser (we recommend meeting at least once every two weeks, and preferably even more frequently as the submission deadline approaches)? How available will she or he be in the summer, if you have questions while away from campus? All of these are things to discuss with your prospective adviser before you sign the advising contract.

To reiterate: once you find an adviser, you m ust h a v e r egular meetings, although the fr equency of these meetings will vary o ver the course of the year and fr om student to student. It is almost al w ays a good idea to schedule y our next meeting befor e y ou leave any meeting. Y o u shoul d also b e clea r wit h y ou r advise r f r o m th e v e r y be g innin g an d o v e r th e y ea r abou t y our need s an d expectations . Th e thesi s i s y ou r p r ojec t an d y o u m us t d r i v e it. Y ou r advise r i s a n ally and a r esource , but this is ultimately your pr oject.

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Weather Delay

Pacific University locations will open two hours late Wednesday, March 1, in alignment with local school districts. Campus facilities will open two hours later than their normal operations. Classes scheduled to start before 10 a.m. will be canceled or online at normal times. Check with your programs or faculty. The two hour-delay also applies to Pacific clinics and the Early Learning Community.

Degree Requirements

Thesis, Advisor, and Committee | MS in Vision Science

In consultation with the program director, students work with their advisors to form the thesis committee before taking the proposal exam. The thesis committee provides academic guidance to the student in conducting the thesis project and additional support for the student’s overall professional development. The thesis committee also serves as the examination committee for the student’s proposal examination and final thesis defense. The committee must have a minimum of three members:

All committee members must be members of the graduate faculty at Pacific University . The Director of the VSG Program approves all thesis committees. Changes of committee members must be requested by the student in writing and approved by the VSG Committee.


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