Advisory System

Degree programs are planned by the advisory committee after consultation with the student, unless a field of study has established a uniform curriculum. There is considerable flexibility in meeting special needs insofar as these are consistent with the regulations of the Graduate School. A degree program may entail coursework in more than one field of study, but each program must include a coherent emphasis within one existing field of study and area of concentration, if applicable.

A major advisor must be appointed at the appropriate level by the Dean of the Graduate School, by authorization of the President of the University, to advise in a particular field of study or area of concentration. In applying for admission, an applicant may indicate a preference for a particular major advisor. If at the time of admission an applicant expresses no preference, or if the preferred advisor is unable to accept, another advisor may be appointed. Since consistency of direction is important, a durable relationship between the student and advisor should be formed as early as possible. Occasionally, it may be desirable or appropriate for a student’s degree program to be directed by co-major advisors (not more than two). Each co-major advisor must hold an appropriate Graduate Faculty appointment in the student’s field of study and area of concentration (if applicable).

If a change of major advisor becomes necessary for any reason, the student must file a special form, bearing the signature of the new advisor, with the Graduate School. The Change of Major Advisor form can be found on the Registrar’s website at

If a major advisor decides that it is not possible to continue as a student’s major advisor and wishes to resign, the Graduate School must be notified in writing as soon as possible. The student is then provided with a reasonable opportunity to arrange for a new major advisor. If a new major advisor is not identified within 30 business days of the resignation of the former major advisor, the student’s graduate degree program status is terminated. When the resignation occurs during a summer session or winter session, then the 30 business days begin on the first day of classes of the next fall or spring semester. A student whose status has been terminated may request a hearing by filing a written request within 30 days of receipt of the letter of termination.

Unless a field of study has established another advisory system, the advisory committee of a master’s degree student is formed after consultation between the major advisor and the student.  The advisory committee, if an advisory committee is required, must include at least two associate advisors, one of whom must hold a current appointment to the Graduate Faculty. An associate advisor must possess suitable academic or scientific credentials in the student’s field of study. The advisory committee should be formed before the student has completed 12 credits of degree program coursework and shall then supervise the remainder of the student’s degree program.

Unless a field of study has established another advisory system, the advisory committee of a doctoral degree student is formed after consultation between the student and the major advisor and shall consist of at least two associate advisors with suitable academic or scientific credentials. The major advisor and at least one associate advisor shall be members of the Graduate Faculty appointed to advise doctoral students in the student’s field of study and area of concentration, if applicable. In addition to the three or more members, another member, ordinarily a member of the Graduate Faculty outside the student’s field of study but in a related field may be appointed by the Dean. If the advisory committee consists of three members, decisions must be unanimous. If the advisory committee consists of four or more members, decisions are considered adopted if there are no more than one negative vote, although the major advisor must always vote in the affirmative. Advisory committee decisions involving the outcome of the General Examination, approval of the Dissertation Proposal, oral defense of the dissertation, or approval of the dissertation itself, must be a unanimous vote. Readers, examiners, or other reviewers who have not been recognized as associate advisors by the Graduate School are not members of the student’s advisory committee.

A member of the University of Connecticut’s Graduate Faculty who has retired from active service may be considered for appointment as major advisor for a newly-admitted master’s or doctoral student. Application is made to the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty Council and requires submission of a curriculum vitae and the endorsement of the appropriate department or program head. The retired faculty member must present substantial evidence of ongoing research and scholarly activity in the field. Separate application is required for each newly-admitted student for whom a retired faculty member wishes to serve as major advisor. Such appointments are made by the Dean with the advice of the Executive Committee.

A current graduate student may not serve as a member of another graduate student’s advisory committee. If deemed appropriate by a graduate student’s major advisor, the major advisor may request that a suitably qualified external associate advisor be appointed to the student’s advisory committee by writing to the Graduate School. The request should be accompanied by curriculum vitae for the individual being recommended for appointment. Such appointments are made on the basis of advanced training and significant experience in the field of study. An appointment as external associate advisor is limited to an individual student’s advisory committee and does not imply in any way membership on the Graduate Faculty of the University. Ordinarily, not more than one external associate advisor is appointed to any master’s or doctoral student’s advisory committee. The major advisor and at least one associate advisor on any doctoral student’s advisory committee must be members of the University’s Graduate Faculty.

The major advisor of any master’s or doctoral student is responsible for coordinating the supervisory work of the advisory committee. Therefore, when the major advisor is to be on leave or is not in residence, it is the major advisor’s responsibility to appoint an acting major advisor. The acting major advisor must be a member of the University’s Graduate Faculty or be fully eligible for such an appointment. The acting major advisor will assume all duties and responsibilities of the major advisor for the duration of the appointment. The major advisor will inform the Graduate School of the appointment and provide any information that may be required concerning the credentials of the acting major advisor.

Students’ advisory committees are accountable directly to the Dean of the Graduate School. For advisory committees of doctoral students, it is required that the written consent be obtained from the Graduate School before any changes are made in the member-ship of an advisory committee which has been duly established.