The Graduate Program Director (GPD) will assign a faculty mentor to incoming first year graduate students. An attempt will be made to match up the research interests of incoming students with faculty mentors, though this will not always be possible. The faculty mentor may or may not retain an advisory role for a student beyond the first year. Students should use the first two semesters to learn about faculty interests, and then seek out a faculty advisor.
The graduate program in Sociology is flexible enough to accommodate individual academic abilities, needs and interests. Students are urged to establish close working relationships with faculty to facilitate individual research and progress through the program. Also, prior to or at registration for graduate work, a student should consult with the Graduate Program Director about his/her degree program. Initially, the GPD will serve as advisor to all incoming students.
Incoming graduate students are paired up with current students to provide a peer mentoring relationship. This gives first-year graduate students a resource for questions about life at UMass Amherst and the Amherst area, negotiating the program, and helps incoming graduate students get plugged into the social and intellectual life of the department. The peer mentor relationship takes on a variety of forms depending on the individuals involved but can mean email exchanges and discussions over coffee, and in at least one instance, the peer mentoring program has facilitated a pair becoming roommates. How often and with what frequency a first year student interacts with an experienced graduate student depends entirely on the individuals.