Major Professor

Your major professor (MP) is the committee member from your major field who serves as your primary academic advisor, your principal thesis advisor, and the general mentor for your academic program and your research. Your MP must be a Graduate Faculty member in your major department/program who is approved to direct students at your level. In some departments/programs, the student is responsible for selecting a MP; in others, the department/program assigns a MP in consultation with the student. Please check with your major department/program regarding local procedures.

Requirements and policies related to committee structure, advising, and examinations are consistent with those in the OSU Graduate Catalog. Each student works with an advisor and graduate committee to develop a Graduate Study Program.

The M.S. Graduate committee consists of the major adviser, the minor adviser (if applicable) and one other member. Non-Thesis: The examining committee consists of three members of the graduate faculty - two in the major field and one in the minor field if a minor is included. When a minor is not included, the third member may be from the graduate faculty at large. Thesis: The examining committee consists of at least four members of the graduate faculty - two in the major field, one in the minor field if a minor is included, and a Graduate Council representative. When a minor is not included, the fourth member may be from the graduate faculty at large.

The Ph.D. Graduate Committee consists of at least five members, including the Major Professor, the Minor Professor, and a Graduate School Representative. The Major and Minor Professors must be members of the ES Graduate Faculty. At least three members must be from the ES Graduate Faculty and three different academic disciplines should be represented, not counting the Graduate School Representative. The intent of this requirement is to provide disciplinary breadth on the committee. The Ph.D. Graduate Committee must be approved by the ES Graduate Program Director.

Duties and Responsibilities

The responsibilities of major professors regarding student advising are varied and differ somewhat from a regular graduate department. Although professor-student dynamics are highly variable depending upon the personalities involved, all major professors are expected to:

  • Help students define their interests and choose appropriate course work. Work with the student and program committee to see that all requirements are met.
  • Help the student select and set up their committee.
  • Provide specific suggestions on designing and carrying out thesis research, particularly at the M.S. level.
  • Provide or help students find funding for graduate studies. In addition, promptly advise students of duration and conditions related to employment or other support offered (e.g., how long it is likely to last, what level of performance is required for continued support). If available funds are insufficient to support the student through completion of the degree, provide counsel about alternative funding sources.
  • Alert students to job opportunities after graduation, and help them make the necessary professional acquaintances to enhance their chances of success.
  • When appropriate, guide and mentor students regarding additional resources and career and personal decisions affecting their professional development.
  • Provide support for the student in the form of office space, mailbox, etc. While students do have official mailboxes in the Environmental Sciences office, they frequently are nowhere near Cordley Hall and appreciate having a place to have mail sent where it is more convenient for them.