Skip To Content
Open, Flexible, and Everywhere
AU support services are available Mon to Fri from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MST). It is now 08:34 am (MST). See important calendar dates
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AU has temporarily closed telephone services.
Office Hours at all locations:Mon to Fri from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m (MST)
The supervision of graduate students is part of the mandate of AU. The purpose of the documents below is to clarify expectations and responsibilities of the supervisor and the student. The work performed by graduate students forms a vital part of a university’s research agenda. When students enter a graduate program, they commit time and energy to a thesis or dissertation that will make a substantial and original contribution to knowledge. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to advise and mentor the student in the development of his or her research and intellectual growth. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the student to conform to university policies and program requirements, and to fulfill certain responsibilities when engaging in a supervisor-student relationship.
While many models of supervision exist across disciplines and graduate programs, the guidelines, roles, and responsibilities of the supervisor and student are provided to clarify expectations in order to reduce conflict and facilitate the thesis/dissertation process. It is the role of the Faculty of Graduate Studies to provide policies and guidelines that help to ensure a minimum standard of excellence in graduate education and promote a fair set of expectations across all programs.
Successful program completion and/or withdrawal rates have been linked to the quality and quantity of advisement provided to graduate students. The supervisor assumes a number of roles in the supervisor-student relationship. The role may range from a very structured “master to apprentice” scenario to a very unstructured “subtle guide of an independent scholar.” Within the supervisory responsibility, the supervisor is a mentor, advocate, expert, leader, and facilitator for the student.
The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies has developed a number of guiding principles as a resource for supervisors and students. Greater detail is available on the AU FGS website.
The supervisor is a mentor, advocate, expert, leader, and facilitator in the formation of a partnership between the student, the committee, and graduate studies.
The responsibilities of the supervisor are to ensure equitable and quality service to the student. Responsibilities include:
The interim supervisor is identified by the Academic Unit, graduate program designate, or may be selected by a student upon admission to the doctoral program based on common research interests or other factors. The position of interim supervisor/advisor should exist no longer than the first two years after the student has begun the program. The interim supervisor/advisor may or may not become the student’s thesis/dissertation supervisor/advisor or a member of the student’s supervisory committee.
The overall purpose of the interim supervisor’s role is to assist the student in his or her adjustment to the graduate program and its expectations, act as a mentor, and provide advisement regarding program requirements and progress in the program until the supervisor/advisor is selected. More specifically, the interim supervisor would:
In the case where a doctoral student will have two co-supervisors, the co-supervisor who will be assuming the primary responsibility for the fulfillment of AU policies must be a full-time, continuing tenured (or tenure track) faculty member at Athabasca University. In all instances, the co-supervisors must work together cooperatively to provide an environment for the student that is conducive to research and in which the student can grow intellectually. Below are the role descriptions for the co-supervisory model, should this model of supervision be adopted:
Students should regard graduate research as a partnership with their supervisor. When a student enters a graduate program, he or she commits time and energy necessary for research leading to a thesis/dissertation that makes a contribution to the knowledge in the student’s area. Although it is the duty of the supervisor to be reasonably available for consultation, ultimately the student is responsible for conducting the proposed research work and the program of study. The responsibilities of the student include:
Note: For information specific to the Doctoral in Business Administration program, go here.
Updated November 08, 2019 by Student & Academic Services