Skip to main content

Division of Physical Sciences Ph.D. Student Guaranteed Transitional Support

The Division of Physical Sciences is committed to ensuring that all of our Ph.D. students are given the opportunity to complete a high-quality graduate education under the guidance of an advisor who nurtures and supports their growth and hard work. Relationships between students and advisors, as with all relationships, have their ups and downs. In most situations, these ups and downs are a natural part of a productive, healthy relationship. However, there are times when interactions become unmanageable and are beyond the acceptable scope of the advisor/student relationship.  

The goal of the Guaranteed Transitional Support program is to support Ph.D. students who find themselves in an untenable relationship with their advisor transition to a new advisor in order to successfully continue and complete their degree. We hope that this program will provide a safety net that will allow students to address problematic relationships earlier and, when appropriate, find a new situation where they can thrive. 

Program Specifics

  • Any Ph.D. student in any DPS department who is in an unproductive and/or unhealthy relationship with their advisor may first choose to reach out to their department leadership and follow any process in place within the department to try and resolve the situation.

  • If following department process is not advisable/desired or does not yield acceptable results, the student should reach out to and meet jointly with the Associate Dean for Education and Students, Thomas Hermann ( and the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Alison Coil ( as soon as possible to discuss the situation. The Associate Deans will assess the situation and advise the student on options for next steps. This conversation will be kept confidential to the fullest extent possible, but note that any disclosures of sexual violence, sexual harassment, discrimination or other prohibited behavior will have to be reported to the Office of Prevention of Harrassment and Discrimination (OPHD).

  • In cases where it is established that the relationship with the advisor cannot be repaired, the student will be provided guaranteed 1-quarter financial support in order to facilitate the transition to a new research advisor. Support may be extended to 2-quarters when needed, given a good-faith effort by the student to successfully identify and establish their work with a new advisor.  

  • The Associate Deans, the Dean, and the student’s home department will work together to determine the form of the support. It may be provided as TA, GSR, fellowship support, or a combination of the three, with the goal of giving the student the maximum opportunity to establish a productive working relationship with their new advisor.

  • The Associate Deans, the Dean, and student’s home department will assist in identifying and establishing both the initial connection and the working relationship between the student and their new advisor.