Guide to Advising and Mentoring of Students

Version 1. January 10, 2022

This section addresses how to create strong programs for advising and mentoring students in your department. Advising refers to helping students successfully navigate the path toward their degree, identify and overcome obstacles, and select course sequences. Advising includes both prescriptive advising, in which an advisor provides advice on a student’s academic schedules and requirements, and developmental or

, in which an advisor proactively addresses the broader needs of a student as a whole person, which must be met for that student’s success. Mentoring includes supporting students’ physics skills development, professional growth, career preparation, access to institutional resources, and psychosocial well-being. Many faculty serve as advisors; however, only some faculty serve as mentors, and those who do will need to practice more advanced skills to effectively support students. Training is available for both. This section begins with practices that all advisors should know, continues with practices that can improve advising and are critical for mentoring, and finishes with details of setting up a strong mentoring program. This section does not address mentoring of faculty, which is addressed in the section on How to Be an Effective Chair, or mentoring of research students, which is addressed in the section on Undergraduate Research.


Advising and mentoring play a critical role in student success and happiness. Proactive and informed advising and mentoring enable a climate of support and caring that is critical to ensuring that students see themselves as competent and are prepared, successful, and happy in your program. These factors can dramatically improve outcomes for students and graduates. Advising and mentoring can improve student retention and success by providing mechanisms to learn about and address barriers to student success that span academic, interpersonal, and social interactions. Strong mentoring also supports students from

in integrating into the academic community.

Effective Practices

  1. Develop a structure to support quality advising within the department or program

  2. Support all advisors and mentors in developing personal and supportive relationships with students

  3. Support all advisors and mentors in learning about and sharing resources for students

  4. Have a formal structure that supports mentoring within your department or program

  5. Recognize how mentoring contributes to the department or program

Programmatic Assessments

The Cycle of Reflection and Action

Stay Informed with Updates
Our quarterly newsletter keeps you in the loop about events, ways to get involved, and the latest EP3 Guide content.
By signing up, I agree to the APS Privacy Policy.
EP3 Logo

Brought to you by

Funding provided by

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

This site is governed by the APS Privacy and other policies.

© 2023 The American Physical Society