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Advising and Feedback

This page answers common questions that students have asked about advising and feedback.

Until you reach candidacy, your advisor will be a member of the Graduate Studies Committee who is responsible for all students in a given year of study.  Upon reaching candidacy, your advisor will be the chair of your dissertation committee.  It is the student’s responsibility to assemble a dissertation committee as soon as possible after candidacy.  The Chair of Graduate Studies is available to advise you on this process. Please read more about departmental regulations concerning the composition and responsibilities of members of the dissertation committee. Please read more about Rackham’s regulations concerning the composition of the dissertation committee.


Graduate students receive information about how they are doing in the program from 5 main sources: (1) transcripts; (2) instructor comments and grades on individual papers and exams, and possibly on overall performance in a course; (3) the October review of graduate students, as conveyed by their advisor; (4) candidacy decisions; (5) dissertation committee members.  Of all of these sources of feedback, the transcript is by far the least useful.  Qualitative feedback from faculty instructors and advisors regarding a student’s strengths and weaknesses, with advice on steps needed to improve performance, is much more important.  The following questions tell you what you should do to improve the quality of feedback you receive.