Graduate students are essential to the MIT Community and the leaders of tomorrow in their disciplines. One of the important faculty roles is to provide an environment in which graduate students can learn experientially during their research, which may be conducted in collaboration with or with advising by a faculty member serving as their thesis supervisor. Survey results and anecdotal information indicate that the advising and mentoring relationship is the primary indicator of how graduate students feel about their entire MIT experience. Advising and mentoring also figure prominently in conversations regarding supervising, power imbalances, and collegiality. Nevertheless, upon arriving at MIT our faculty often do not have any formal training in or exposure to the principles of mentorship and advising, and they generally are not provided consistent modes of constructive feedback on their mentoring and advising over the course of their career. Further, our distributed model of graduate education can present challenges for Departments, Labs, and Centers (DLCs) to utilize central Institute resources and internal and external best practices.

As such, the Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Advising and Mentoring is charged with developing a strategic plan for graduate advising and mentoring, to include creation of a platform for faculty skill development and lifelong learning in mentorship, mechanisms for graduate student feedback, and normalized, equitable metrics of assessment of mentoring that can be readily adopted into faculty development and performance and promotion reviews. Graduate students, staff, and faculty shall comprise this ad hoc committee, and the plan is to be submitted to the Chair of the Faculty, Provost, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Faculty Policy Committee (FPC), Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP), and other appropriate offices and committees. So that implementation may begin in the spring semester of the 2021-22 academic year, the plan should be submitted by December 31, 2021, and should include the following:


  • Strategic objectives
  • The essential and measurable elements, competencies, expectations, and best practices of effective mentorship at various stages of career development
  • A framework for assessment that includes the types of information and data that will support ongoing professional development and mitigate negative mentorship experiences
  • Structured feedback systems to improve mentorship at all levels and all career stages
  • Evidence-based educational programs for students and faculty, including guidance on how programs may be adapted across the Institute and by academic discipline
  • Consideration of the impact of advising and mentoring as it relates to identity, particularly gender and race/ethnicity, and to first-generation graduate students
  • Alignment with and support of MIT’s Statement of Shared Values (under development)
  • Policies and programs that support multiple mentorship structures and models
  • Recommendations on rewards and/or incentives for excellence in mentorship
  • An implementation plan that considers all affected stakeholders, Institutional approval timelines, and ongoing Institutional oversight, and that includes a prioritized list of necessary resources 
  • Guidance on how the plan would be adapted for postdocs and research staff


The Committee shall consider best practices internal and external to MIT, including: