Written by Jason Eisner in 1997, for new Computer Science Ph.D. students at the
University of Pennsylvania. He was a grad student himself at the time.
How to Evaluate an Advisor
by Jason Eisner
Qualities to evaluate (that you may or may not want): Based on your experience and conversations with other students, would your prospective advisor ...
Be sure to find out how past students of this advisor have fared -
including those who have graduated.
- assign you research topics automatically? if you asked? would they be fruitful topics for you?
- give you research and reading advice automatically? if you asked? sound advice?
- give you writing feedback automatically? if you asked? helpful, comprehensive, and timely feedback?
- regularly slip you political tips and gossip? if you asked? useful tips, mouth-watering gossip?
- chat with you about the state of the field? if you asked? cogently?
- put you on a big project?
- expect you to devote a certain amount of time to certain research areas? to specific research projects? to non-research activities?
(funding constraints may force an advisor to do this)
- share some of your broader interests (academic or otherwise)?
- be someone you'd enjoy hanging out with?
- stick around for the next five years?
- treat your work as relevant to his or hers?
- let you be first or sole author on your papers?
- expend effort in looking out for your best interests?
- successfully help you get a good job?
Carnegie Mellon's CS survival
page offers further excellent advice on this subject by
David Dill, with additional remarks by
This page online: