Supervisor / Co-supervisor Responsibilities

We encourage you to openly discuss the expectations of the supervisor/co-supervisors and the student and to use the expectations document that incorporates both elements into a single document.

Supervisors and co-supervisors are expected to be available to help their graduate students at every stage, from formulation of their research projects through establishing methodologies and discussing results, to presentation and possible publication of dissertations. Graduate supervisors must also ensure that their students’ work meets the standards of the University and the academic discipline.

Specific responsibilities of a graduate supervisor or co-supervisor:

Note: Co-supervisors are expected to have the experience to be able to take over sole supervision of the student in the event the other co-supervisor is unable to continue.

  • Have experience with the standards and procedures of UBC graduate degree programs.
  • Guide the student through all aspects of their degree program, including both guiding and supervising the research and educating and supporting the student through milestones and administrative tasks.
  • Demonstrate commitment to the student’s research and educational program, and offer stimulation, respectful support, constructive criticism, and consistent encouragement.
  • Assist with identification of a research topic that is suitable for the student and manageable within the scope of the degree.
  • Have sufficient familiarity with the student’s field of research to provide guidance as a supervisor.
  • Assist the student in gaining access to required facilities or research materials for their projects.
  • Discuss the student’s financial support issues and assist with scholarship applications and/or providing advice on academic employment opportunities.
  • Provide guidance in the ethical conduct of research and model research integrity.
  • Discuss with the student the implications of engaging with activities/work unrelated to the thesis topic.
  • Provide information about availability for meetings and expectations about preparation for meetings.
  • Assist the student in planning the program of research, setting a time frame, and adhering as much as possible to the schedule.
  • Encourage the student to finish up when it would not be in the student’s best interest to stay longer.
  • Be accessible for consultation and discussion of the student’s academic progress and research at a minimum of once a term.
  • Minimize expectations for activities/work that may interfere with the student’s thesis completion.
  • Institute a supervisory committee that meets Senate requirements (with appropriate input from the student) and prepare for committee meetings, which will occur on a regular basis (at least once a year) to review the student’s progress and provide guidance for future work.
  • Support the student in preparation for the comprehensive examination and admission to candidacy which will be completed within 36 months of program initiation.
  • Act as a resource about managing program requirements, deadlines, etc.
  • Attend the student’s presentations in appropriate venues and join in associated discussion.
  • Submit recommendations for external examiners and university examiners for the doctoral dissertation within the time frames required by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  • Acknowledge the student’s contributions, when appropriate, in published material and oral presentations (e.g., discuss policy regarding authorship, etc. of papers) in accordance with good scholarly practice and the University of British Columbia's scholarly integrity policies.
  • Provide reasonable expectations about work hours and vacation time in accordance with University of British Columbia policies.
  • Clarify the preferred style of communication with students about areas such as student independence, approaches to conflict, direct questioning, and mentoring.
  • Explain expectations for mode of address, professional behaviour (e.g., punctuality), when to seek assistance, response to constructive criticism, and academic performance expectations.
  • Assist the student in overcoming any cultural difficulties with norms and expectations.
  • Respond thoroughly (with constructive suggestions for improvement) and in a timely fashion to submitted, written work.
  • Promote a research environment that is safe and free from harassment.
  • Assist in managing conflict or differences among members of the supervisory committee.
  • Make arrangements to ensure adequate supervision if the supervisor is absent for extended periods, e.g., more than a month.
  • Encourage the student to present their research results within and outside the University.
  • Provide mentoring in academic writing.
  • Provide advice and mentorship with respect to career opportunities, which may be assisted by resources, skills, professional development, and other avenues.