Mentoring and Advising

Mentoring is an integral part of the graduate experience for graduate students as well as the faculty members who advise them.

Each entering student is assigned a first-year advisor who will meet with the student to develop a curricular plan. At the end of the first year, each student must choose a major professor. The duties of the major professor include: helping develop a curricular plan; discussing graduate program reviews; and providing committee, funding, and professional advice. Subsequently, changes of the major professor may be initiated (by the student or the faculty member) at any time. To change your major professor, please obtain a “Major Professor Change” form from the graduate program coordinator.

Mentoring guidelines

We endorse the UC Davis Graduate Council’s mentoring guidelines, which state:

Faculty mentoring is broader than advising a student as to the program of study to fulfill coursework requirements, and is distinct from formal instruction in a given discipline. Graduate Council recognizes that mentoring encompasses more than serving as a role model. Because of the uncertainty as to the nature of mentoring, the UC Davis Graduate Council has outlined the following mentoring roles to guide the relationship between faculty and graduate students. Faculty and graduate students must realize that, while the major professor will be the primary mentor during a student's career at UC Davis, many of the mentoring "functions" defined below may be performed by program faculty other than the major professor. An important corollary to this recognition is that faculty members must realize that much of their interaction with all students has an important mentoring component to it. Graduate students also have responsibilities to insure successful mentoring and these are also indicated below.

Faculty are responsible for mentoring graduate students. Mentoring has been defined as:

I. Guiding students through degree requirements

  • Providing a clear map of program requirements from the beginning, making clear the nature of the coursework requirements and qualifying examination, and defining a timeline for their completion
  • Providing clear guidelines for starting and finishing dissertation or thesis work, including encouraging the timely initiation of the dissertation or thesis research

II. Guiding students through thesis or dissertation research

  • Evaluating clearly the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s research
  • Encouraging an open exchange of ideas, including pursuit of the student’s ideas
  • Checking regularly on progress
  • Critiquing written work
  • Providing and discussing clear criteria for authorship of collaborative research
  • Assisting in finding sources to support dissertation research, including teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships
  • Being aware of student's research needs, and providing assistance in obtaining required resources. For example, serve as the student’s advocate for necessary desk and/or laboratory space

III. Guiding students through professional development

  • Providing guidance and serving as a role model for upholding the highest ethical standards
  • Treating students respectfully
  • Encouraging and critiquing oral and written presentations
  • Encouraging participation in professional meetings of regional groups as well as of learned societies
  • Facilitating interactions with other scholars, on campus and in the wider professional community
  • Assistance with applications for research funding, fellowship applications, and other applications as appropriate for the respective discipline
  • Being the student’s advocate in academic and professional communities
  • Providing career guidance, specifically assistance in preparation of CV and job interviews, and writing letters of recommendation in a timely manner
  • Recognizing and giving value to the idea that a variety of career options are available to the student in her, his or your field of interest, and accepting that the student's choice of career options is worthy of your support. For example, guiding the student to teaching opportunities when appropriate for the student's goals.


As partners in the mentoring relationship, graduate students have responsibilities. As mentees, students should:

  • Be aware of their own mentoring needs and how they change through their graduate tenure. Graduate students should discuss these changing needs with their mentors.
  • Recognize that one faculty member may not be able to satisfy all of a student’s mentoring needs. Seek assistance from multiple individuals and organizations to fulfill the mentoring roles described above.
  • Recognize that their mentoring needs must respect their mentor’s other responsibilities and time commitments
  • Maintain and seek regular communication with their mentors, especially their major professor.


The mission to cultivate multiculturalism and diversity is a critical component of contemporary academic training. An important element of the educational experience of students in the Department of Sociology Ph.D. program is the diverse environment in which we work, teach and interact. Diversity presents itself in many different forms, including socioeconomic status; race or ethnicity; religion; gender; age; sexuality; nationality or place of origin; disability; and unique work or life experience. Exposure to a broad range of experiences, perspectives and values is key to fostering both breadth and depth in intellectual growth.

The Department of Sociology doctoral program is committed to maintaining an inclusive work environment that values diverse backgrounds, approaches and perspectives to inspire collaboration, discovery and innovation. Our graduate students work with an extremely diverse undergraduate population when they teach (as teaching assistants or acting instructors), which has provided rich and meaningful professional development. Through research and teaching, our Ph.D. students are enabled and encouraged to become highly attentive to the importance of difference and diversity in higher education and in our society.