Building an Effective Graduate Student-Supervisor Relationship

Graduate student relationships with faculty members are regarded by students as the most important aspect of their graduate education. Good student-supervisor relationships are also associated with higher completion rates and faster times to completion.


Some fundamental elements of successful graduate supervision are:

  • Clear and frequent communication
  • Agreement on mutual expectations
  • Mentoring tailored to the needs, attributes and aspirations of each student

These elements should be established as soon as the student begins his/her program, and continue for its duration. Clear communication of expectations and responsibilities is especially important for graduate students and supervisors from different cultures, for whom there may be unspoken assumptions about responsibilities which are not shared.

We have developed these ressources for you to establish expectations:

  • Template letter: intended to offer you a tool to support your communication with your graduate students. It offers some key points you might want to share but you can also add to the template or tailor it in whatever ways you wish.
  • Expectations document