Navigating‑Student Supervisor Relationships

Building Positive Student-Supervisor Relationships

Positive student-supervisory relationships are associated with higher completion rates, faster times to completion, and more satisfying experiences for both students and supervisors.

The relationship is more likely to be positive if the expectations of the student and supervisor are established early and adapted and revisited throughout the program.

Last winter, we passed along a list of topics to help facilitate a conversation on mutual expectations.

We have since revised the list of topics [PDF - 27kb] in response to feedback. Thanks to those who provided comments.

Who Can Help If You Have Concerns about Your Supervisory Relationship?

The first person to contact if you have concerns regarding your supervision is your supervisor. The sooner you raise your concerns with them the greater the likelihood that the problem will be resolved. If you are not comfortable speaking with your supervisor, then members of your supervisory committee might provide helpful advice.

If the problem is not resolved after consulting with your supervisor/supervisory committee then you should speak with the Graduate Coordinator and, if necessary, the Chair/Director of your Department/School. If a solution cannot be reached in your academic unit, then you may wish to contact the Associate Dean, Students, Dr. Eileen Denovan-Wright, or the Dean, Dr. Marty Leonard.

Please note that although we suggest you begin with your supervisor and move down the flow chart (see below) in order, students may go directly to a grad coordinator or to FGS for help.

Additional resources at Dalhousie include:

DSU Student Advocacy Service
University Ombudsperson
Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness Centre (includes Counselling Services, Social Worker, and Accommodation)
Human Rights & Equity Services

External Resources:

- Transforming mentorship in STEM by training scientists to be better leaders

Tips from Graduate Students:

Read the tips from the field from our 2019 conference on Supervisory Relationships [PDF - 50kb].