Briefing Paper

Mentors and Supervisors: Doctoral Advising of Foreign and U.S. Graduate Students

Download the Research Report (6.4 MB, PDF)

Evidence has accumulated over the past several decades indicating that the highest hurdle of the doctoral program is the completion of the thesis or dissertation. However, little is known about the period of graduate or professional education during which the student, having completed course and examination requirements, is engaged in the process of writing the thesis or dissertation. This period in the life of the graduate student, which may take a minimum of two years but more often extends over four or more years, is a virtual unknown but for anecdotal accounts. 

The focus of this report, accordingly, is on the advisor-advisee relationship at the doctoral level with particular emphasis on how this relationship works for the foreign student, in the hope that illumination of the advising process will be helpful to all participants by creating greater awareness of potential problems and pitfalls. It is particularly hoped that identifying the special implications for foreign graduate students will make it possible to provide informed and realistic guidance to these students as they prepare to embark on doctoral study.