Choosing a Supervisor

Not sure where to start? This blog post will get the ball rolling.

Choosing a supervisor for your MA or your PhD thesis begins with the careful outline of your research project. The more precise your idea is, the easier it will be to find your supervisor. Some points to consider:

  • What kind of thesis do I want to write? 
  • What kind of research and data collection am I interested in? 
  • What is my ideal research setting? 
  • Where do I want to work after graduating?
  • What do I expect from a supervisor? Do I expect my supervisor to be the top expert of my field?
  • What style of supervision do I need to be successful? (eg. hard deadlines versus more independence)

With these questions in mind, you should use the MLCS website to gather information about potential supervisors. Look at their CV and their publications. Find out what their research interests are. It is also advisable to look at the person’s internet presence, i.e. research and professional platforms, such as LinkedIn or academia.edu. If a professor strikes your interest, feel free to contact him/her with further questions about their background.

Once you have decided on a potential match, you can get in touch with our Graduate Advisor and ask if any students, currently working with your potential supervisor, are willing to speak with you. Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask their students. If at all possible, you should take a course with your potential supervisor(s) and consider their teaching style and philosophy, social interactions, level of support, expectations, etc.

When listening to other students’ impressions, always keep in mind that personalities matter. There needs to be chemistry between you and your supervisor.

Before you and your supervisor make your final decision, take the time to arrange a meeting with them. Discuss your project and its feasibility and find out if they have an interest in your topic. Do you think you feel comfortable working with this person? Do you ‘click’? Chemistry is crucial because the relationship between a supervisor and a student is one that will ideally last well beyond the duration of your graduate program (e.g. recommendation letters, academic cooperation, professional advice etc.) However, please be mindful of the person’s time and contact only those professors who you seriously consider to be a good match. Try not to  approach the meeting like an ‘interview’ of any sort. Keep in mind that you do not only choose a supervisor but the supervisor also chooses you.

While your initiative is important in the process of finding a good match, your Field Advisor and the Graduate Advisor will support you in your search in the first year of your program. You are not required to identify a supervisor until the end of your first year of study, so take the time to get to know everyone!