Finding academic support

The success of every graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences depends in part upon the role of the student’s advisor. Whether they work together in a lab or a research team, meet in a seminar, or consult periodically in office hours or online, the advisor and the student together establish a plan for the graduate student’s research, work to identify and remove obstacles to success, and ensure that the student has opportunities to develop professional experience. Most of these interactions take place outside the classroom, often in informal interactions. To ensure that these interactions are as productive as possible, the College offers these guidelines.

These guidelines embody many of the best practices used by other institutions and professional societies. They are intended to provide principles for establishing an effective and productive advisor-student relationship that relies on trust, courtesy, clear communications, and shared expectations. These College guidelines provide a general framework for interactions; departments and programs are expected to establish and document more detailed implementation in departmental handbooks and procedures. These guidelines supplement the IU Student Code, which addresses primarily formal academic matters, by attending to the faculty’s role in the student’s research process.


Academic advising at the graduate level happens within your graduate program. Each graduate program has a director of graduate studies (DGS) appointed from its faculty. Until you choose a faculty advisor (a process that varies across programs), the DGS will serve in that capacity. For Ph.D. students, your advisor will likely serve as a member of your advisory committee. You will choose or be assigned an advisory committee (typically by your second year in the program) and eventually you will form a dissertation research committee. The Indiana University Graduate School Bloomington requirements for these committees appear in the IU Graduate School Bloomingon Bulletin.

The DGS is also your primary contact for questions about academic proceduresparental accommodationleaves of absence, and other matters related to your academic program. Most programs also have a staff member (graduate staff or graduate coordinator) who can provide general information about program requirements, policies, and practices.