You & Your Major Professor

Your relationship with your major professor is critical for a successful experience in graduate school. This single member of the faculty will influence what courses you take and the scholarship you pursue. She or he also has the potential to set you on a pathway to success in your preliminary and final oral examinations, seminar deliveries, and job placement. For better or for worse, your partnership with your major professor was not vetted by, however.

Major professors come in all shapes and sizes. They exhibit a range of personality traits that may or may not be compatible with yours. Some major professors are proactive, organized, and constantly focused on your needs. Others have a more hands-off approach, preferring that their students take the lead with planning, executing, trouble-shooting, and communicating. It will serve you well to understand how your major professor operates. Such an understanding will allow you to act in ways that complement your major professor's work style, or you may attempt to modify how your major professor interacts with you. Here are a few suggestions: