An advisor—sometimes referred to as the major professor, mentor, or trainer—generally serves as chair of a student’s final examination committee.
The advisor/student relationship is one of mutual agreement, which may be terminated by either party. If a student changes advisors, they need to notify their program coordinator. It is the responsibility of every graduate student to have an advisor. If students do not have an advisor, the Graduate School may suspend them from further graduate study at UW–Madison until they find an advisor. However, in some cases, particularly for incoming students, the program may assign an advisor.
With approval from the program, students can have a co-advisor/co-chair. The co-advisor/co-chair may be from any of the following categories: graduate faculty, faculty from a department without a graduate program, academic staff (including emeritus faculty), visiting faculty, faculty from another institution, scientists, research associates, and other individuals deemed qualified by the program executive committee or its equivalent. Effective September 1, 2017, the co-advisor/co-chair will be designated on dissertation documentation.