Materials Science and Engineering

Change of Advisor

Every graduate student coming into the program must have a graduate advisor. The MSE program will assign the Graduate Program director as advisor to students in the non-thesis degree track. An MS or PhD thesis track student will have an advisor from the faculty that assists in meeting educational and research goals. A change of graduate advisor in the MSE program most often occurs when:

  1. a student changes from non-thesis to thesis degree
  2. a student finishes an MS degree and begins a PhD program under a new advisor.

Under these situations, (i) and (ii), the advisor-committee form must be completed.

Please note that all new thesis track students must also complete and submit the advisor-committee form.

A change of advisor in the middle of a research program is rare, but can happen. In most cases in the MSE program, funding for a graduate position on a specific research project is linked to a specific faculty member. This means it is typically impossible to keep the same research project while changing advisor. In these cases, a change of advisor will involve changing to a new funded position on a different project.

In the case of unresolved difficulties with your advisor, please consider all the options listed on the Graduate School’s website for how to address difficulties in the student-advisor relationship.

Once you have decided to attempt to change your graduate advisor due to unresolved conflicts, you must follow the steps listed below.

  1. Meet with your graduate program director to consider the ramifications of changing advisor and what other alternatives for future funding within the MSE department are available in this instance. If meeting with the graduate program director is not feasible or appropriate, meet with the Chair or School Dean of the department or school. If you are in a nondepartmental program, you may meet with the Chair or School Dean of your administrative home department or school.
  2. Discuss the following with the graduate program director (or Chair/School Dean) and, if appropriate, the current advisor:
    • Whether additional resources within or outside the department (such as the Ombuds office) could help resolve the situation.
    • The impact of the change of advisor on your time to complete the degree. Coursework, qualifying exam(s), and the research proposal examination are all factors that could be impacted with a change in advisor.
    • Your current and future funding.
    • Research already conducted. Whether this will be incorporated into the dissertation, thesis, or report, and if so, how.
    • Impact on immigration status (if any). Consult International Programs and Services (IPS), if necessary.
    • Record the agreement from the discussions in writing, including indications of agreement from all affected faculty advisors, and provide copies to the student, the graduate program director, and all affected faculty advisors.
  3. File an updated Advisor and Committee Recommendation Form for approval by the Graduate School.
  4. If the student and the graduate program director are unable to reach agreement on the advisor change, contact the assistant dean of the Graduate School to determine additional steps to resolve the situation.