A key aspect to a good experience with your advisor is to keep communications open. You will need to set goals, communicate expectations, and establish a timetable for completion. This may alleviate hard feelings or misunderstandings later on. Be sure to be clear about your expectations and goals. It is important that you and your advisor are in agreement about the progression of your education and its completion.

Questions and ideas that you should consider discussing with your thesis advisor:


What additional coursework would your advisor recommend you take to better prepare you for research? What courses interest you? How should you best complete the course requirements? Should you finish all of your coursework as soon as possible, or is it better to take one or two courses each semester?


Does your advisor expect you to publish your research? Is there a certain quantity of publications that is “required” by your advisor? Do you want to publish while you are here at Rensselaer?


Will your advisor send (or bring) you to a conference to present your research? Does your advisor have connections at other colleges/universitites where you could give presentations on your research?


How often does your advisor plan to meet with you? Will there be a fixed time each week? Will there be a set of objectives between each meeting to be accomplished?

Candidacy and Thesis Timing

When does your advisor expect you will be ready to take your candidacy exam and defend your thesis? By what date would you like to have defended your thesis?

Thesis Committee

After you have worked with your advisor you should discuss who to ask to be on your thesis committee. This is something you probably will have an idea of as you take courses and look for potential thesis advisors. It is beneficial for you and your advisor to agree to the members of your thesis committee.