Choosing your Research Adviser will be one of the most important decisions that you will make during your Graduate career. Who your Adviser will be will have a profound influence on your academic and post-graduate career.
Research Advisers are different than Major Field Advisers (MFAs) who generally represent their research area as a whole (though your Research Adviser and the MFA for your group may be the same person in any given semester). You will normally have a much closer personal relationship to your Research Adviser than to your MFA.
In addition to supervising your research, s/he is your main point of contact for the all of the following:
- Academic Mentoring – S/he will be able to advise you on what Minor courses you should take with regards to research interests and will help shape and expand your interests
- Committee Recommendations – Though it is likely that your Research Adviser will be your Thesis Committee Chair, s/he can recommend other members for various thesis and examination committees.
- Career Mentoring
- Financial Support Issues
It is best that you select your Research Adviser during your first year – the earlier the better. It is a mutual process and it would behoove you meet with faculty in person (at least a few times) to better ensure that s/he matches both your personality and research area before you both make a decision. To get a better idea of a faculty member’s current research and style, you may elect to talk to their current graduate students, to read their recent papers, to go to any seminars they may be offering, and/or visit them during office hours.