Supervisor-student relationship

A great supervisor oversees your academic work, is passionate about your subject area and invested in your success. This mentor may work with you to identify research and teaching roles, members of a supervisory committee and career opportunities that will carry you beyond your degree. Ideally, this relationship is the foundation that moves you closer to your goals.

Given the academic stakes involved, this is not always an easy relationship to negotiate. Like any partnership, this one can see bumps in the road. Keep in mind that if you encounter challenges, a range of supports are available to help you work out a mutually agreeable path and, where necessary, to make a change. Your best bet is to take the time to research your options and clarify expectations with a potential supervisor before agreeing to work together.

The policy below is intended to help prepare you for a successful relationship with your supervisor.

When to find or meet your supervisor

There is some variation when it comes to academic supervision at UVic, so be sure to confirm the specific details with your academic unit.

At UVic, you may be assigned a supervisor or be expected to find your own. In some instances, you must identify an available supervisor before you begin your studies. No matter the process, it pays to do your homework up front.

Researching potential supervisors

Learning as much as you can about the faculty members who you will be working with increases your chances for success. A potential supervisor may be more open to you if you:

  • make contact well in advance of your desired academic entry point
  • develop a statement of your research interests and preferred areas of focus
  • spend time exploring their research, publications, funding sources and CVs
  • assess your preferred working style and the potential for compatibility
  • sit in on their classes or visit their research settings
  • consider the mutual investment required

Finding your perfect fit

If you’re responsible for identifying a supervisor, we recommend you talk to several professors before asking one to oversee your work. Where possible, connect with those on your short list to discuss your research goals and their availabilities for your desired study period.

Once you have narrowed your choice, be clear about what you and your prospective supervisor expect of one another: understand your mutual responsibilities.

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