Advising Overview

See also the Advising FAQ and the Advising Blog where you can ask questions

What is Advising?

Ethical and professional conduct is a cornerstone of high-quality graduate education. As a large metropolitan university, San José State University is composed of a number of unique and distinct disciplines. Together, these disciplines form the quilt that is the University and its programs. As diverse as these disciplines may be, all must work together and follow common guidelines that are formulated in order to uphold academic standards and maintain a collegial and productive environment.

Based on the assumption of a professional academic relationship between faculty advisors and graduate students, the following guidelines form the basis for iSchool practice. The guidelines outlined here are designed to both elicit an awareness of and a commitment to behavior and relationships rooted in common sense, courtesy, and basic honesty.

What advising is

Guidance and suggestion, through problem-solving and solution-driven consultation with an assigned faculty member, concerning areas of research and learning interest and desired educational goals. Faculty play different advising roles, as instructor, as research supervisor and as assigned academic advisor. An assigned academic advisor provides advice and suggestions regarding academic planning and addresses questions and concerns in accordance with iSchool and University policies.

What advising is not

A forum for venting complaints about particular instructors or grade assignments.
A means to circumvent or usurp University policies or procedures.


Who Advises?

Academic Advice

The school assigns a specific full-time faculty member as academic advisor to each graduate student on admission to the program. This is your primary academic advisor. Each graduate student will be enrolled in an academic advising user group within the school's Canvas Advising and Administration site. Through this site, students will receive a welcome notice at the beginning of each semester from their faculty advisor, along with information about how to contact the advisor for academic planning advice.

In addition:

  • a course instructor will provide academic advice to students related to the specific course and specialization;
  • a full- or part-time faculty member will provide advice in his or her area of specialization if you contact them;
  • a research supervisor for a directed study, special project, collaborative research or thesis, or a paid assistantship, will provide advice on methodology and project management.

As a graduate program, educating professionals and developing leaders, the iSchool encourages independence of thought, decision-making and action.

Faculty advisors are available; faculty advisors will not pursue you.

Administrative and Procedural Advice

Most procedural and policy questions can be answered by reading through the iSchool Web site, the Advising blog, or especially by accessing the detailed topical FAQs and resources available on the iSchool's Advising and Administration one-stop portal on Canvas. Students require varying degrees of advice and support. In addition, the iSchool provides a part-time online student services advisor to: assist students with academic status concerns, help field registration and enrollment questions, and to support and encourage that advising resources reach our students.

The iSchool Coordinator of Student Services oversees all student services procedures for MLIS and MARA students, such as: candidacy, substitution forms, scholarships and awards, leaves and petitions, permission numbers and academic status. See Vicki Robison's welcome screencast.

Further, the iSchool names a faculty member as Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising to coordinate admissions, transfer credits and appeals.


Responsibilities of an Advisor

While the roles of advisor as instructor, research supervisor and assigned advisor may overlap, these examples help to define different aspects of the faculty member's advising role.

As an instructor, the faculty member will:

  • help students develop interpretive, writing, oral, quantitative, or other relevant professional skills required by the library and information science disciplines.
  • encourage faculty-student collaborations.
  • provide students with assessment of their progress and performance in regular and informative ways.
  • encourage, by example, a dedication to high-quality teaching and scholarly and professional activity.
  • promote free inquiry and the free exchange of information, subject to University and iSchool policies.

As a research supervisor, the faculty member will:

  • help students design research programs that take advantage of their individual interests and strengths and that can be completed in a timely manner.
  • acknowledge student contributions to research presented at conferences, and in professional publications.
  • encourage students to participate in professional associations and meetings, and publish the results of their research.
  • never impede a graduate student's progress toward the degree or toward employment in order to benefit from the student's proficiency as a student assistant.
  • excuse themselves from participating in committee decisions regarding any student with whom they have a relationship that could result in a conflict of interest.

As an assigned advisor, the faculty member will:

  • help students understand the requirements and timetable that each must meet and will answer questions about course work,  e-portfolio, and thesis options.
  • interact with students, staff, and faculty colleagues in a professional and civil manner, and in accordance with University and iSchool policies.


Expectations of the Advisee

  • consult with an advisor when you have questions 
  • take primary responsibility for informing themselves of the regulations and policies governing their financial aid, degree and course requirements, and other activities (e.g., as made available through MySJSU, the Graduate Studies & Research pages and the school's Web site).
  • seek clarification from the Student Services Coordinator or the Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising when they are uncertain about the precise meaning or application of a regulation or policy.
  • exercise the highest integrity in taking examinations and in composing work. A good point from which to begin is by reading the SJSU Academic Integrity Policy, located online at:
  • maintain the confidentiality of the faculty advisor's professional activities and research prior to presentation or publication, in accordance with existing practices and policies of the iSchool.
  • interact with faculty, staff and other students in a mature, professional, and civil manner in accordance with University and iSchool policies.