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I don't believe professors are directly compensated for advising or sitting on a committee — in my program, at least — but I'm sure it pays off indirectly in terms of seeking promotions or tenure.

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I worry about that sometimes because my advisor has six doctoral students, and we're at an R1! She spends a lot of time commenting on my work and meeting with all of us one-on-one, and I know she works all the time... nights, weekends, etc. I'm aiming for R1 myself, so I'm concerned about how to balance everything. Luckily, she recently got tenure, so she's not as worried about her job, but to my knowledge, she doesn't have any graduated students yet, so I assume graduating all of us would help her for moving up to full professor later.

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I think there's also an important divide here between "lab" disciplines and non-lab disciplines here. It generally follows the humanities/sciences divide, but there are some lab-based social sciences and non-lab based sciences as well. 

 

For lab-based fields, the advisor and dissertation chair has a much more personal stake in driving the research, and graduate students function as both employees and co-workers as well as graduate students. Here, younger faculty have a large need for graduate students to help them get research off the ground, and it's a boon to productivity. 

 

For non-"lab" based fields, the advisor doesn't usually have as personal of a stake in the research (and is not always published on advisees papers). Similarly, young faculty are often encouraged not to be dissertation chairs, and to take more minor rolls on committees, as graduating students isn't as important for Tenure, and it's seen as a detriment to research productivity. For this latter point, you can find plenty of advice to young faculty on the CHE forums about avoiding taking advising/chair positions for the first few years, and ideally until Tenure. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

However, advising students and producing a lot of research are usually criteria for getting tenure, which ensures the prof continues having a job/getting paid (and usually, a promotion = pay raise). 

 

I was under the assumption that non-tenured profs rarely advise Ph.D. students. They might sit on a dissertation committee every once in a while but advising typically takes place after tenure.

 

Maybe it's different in other countries/other fields though.

Edited by HopefulComparativist
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I was under the assumption that non-tenured profs rarely advise Ph.D. students. They might sit on a dissertation committee every once in a while but advising typically takes place after tenure.

 

Maybe it's different in other countries/other fields though.

This definitely depends on the country. My experience in the USA has been that non-tenured (aka, assistant) professors are expected to do advising as part of their departmental service.

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I was under the assumption that non-tenured profs rarely advise Ph.D. students. They might sit on a dissertation committee every once in a while but advising typically takes place after tenure.

 

Maybe it's different in other countries/other fields though.

 

My PhD advisor is a non-tenured prof and if all goes well, I think my advisor will have tenure and I will graduate at about the same time (+/- 1 year). My department chair says that no prof here has been denied tenure in the last 20-25 years (but they are pretty picky on who they hire). Their philosophy is that as long as they hire someone who is a good researcher, with all of the resources that our University gives to its professors, there is almost no way they won't become super successful! I hope they're right haha!

 

It might depend on the field (and country as rising_star pointed out) as well because I would say in the sciences, you usually get tenure by doing research* and you get research done by hiring grad students to do research. At my university, all new professors have their first year free from teaching so that they can just do research and set up their group. They also have a startup fund to hire new students (like me!) and start a group/lab while they apply for more grants. I would say that the new professors in my department have groups that tend to be larger than established professors because they are trying to get more research accomplished and make a name for themselves in the community (although all of the recent hires have already made names for themselves, I'd say). 

 

(*Note: the amount that research matters (vs. other things like teaching) depends on each school)

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^If all goes well, my advisor will receive tenure at the same time I graduate, which is in the next few months.  Hooray for both of us!

 

I am not at one of those places where everyone gets tenure (in fact, I am at one of those places that junior faculty sometimes treat as a seven-year postdoc, or use as a launchpad to another job) but I think his chances are decent.

 

Anyway, here untenured professors do advise students, and serve as sponsors/chairs of committees as well.  I believe that it counts a little towards tenure.  Plus they need us to help them get their work done anyway.

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This definitely depends on the country. My experience in the USA has been that non-tenured (aka, assistant) professors are expected to do advising as part of their departmental service.

 

That probably makes sense. In Canada, which follows a more undergrad-masters-Ph.D. system, typically assistant profs only advise masters students. I know that at my university that out of the three assistant profs, I don't think any of them chaired a dissertation. Chairs are usually reserved for associate or full profs. There might also be a bit of a bias here though too because Ph.D. students may seek out more experienced profs for chairs as a general trend.

 

I think I would look for more experienced profs to chair my dissertation just for the networking and notoriety aspect. Of course, having a close relationship on your committee with a younger prof to bounce ideas off of could definitely be invaluable. 

 

About the assistants having bigger groups, this is common I agree. Since all things being equal, assistant profs are more aggressively conducting research, they are more likely to hire RAs. I think there is a bit of a golden rule that undergrads looking for RA positions are best to target new professors than more established ones. 

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That probably makes sense. In Canada, which follows a more undergrad-masters-Ph.D. system, typically assistant profs only advise masters students. I know that at my university that out of the three assistant profs, I don't think any of them chaired a dissertation. Chairs are usually reserved for associate or full profs. There might also be a bit of a bias here though too because Ph.D. students may seek out more experienced profs for chairs as a general trend.

 

My undergrad and Masters were in Canada and I'd say that untenured profs advise just as many, if not more, PhD students than tenured ones (for the same reasons I said above). I can see the case where a prof who is 2 years away from a tenure decision and isn't sure about the outcome might not want to take on a PhD student. But a newly hired prof usually has 5-7 years to gain tenure, and that is time to graduate at least one, if not two, generations of PhD students (assuming a 3-4 year PhD program since in Canada, all PhD students have a 2year masters). But this part might be a field difference.

 

Also, I do agree that most students seek out experienced profs for their committees. I'm definitely going to ask good mix of untenured and tenured profs to be on my committee! At my Canadian Masters program though, the Chair is automatically the department head and the Chair actually does not really take place in the thesis defense--their job is to mainly ensure that all the defenses follow the same standard. At the PhD level, the Thesis Committee will actually play a role in advising the student (through annual progress reports and Candidacy exams), but in the sciences, the majority (if not all) of the advising comes only from your supervisor. The Committee is there mostly to ensure that you are progressing well each year (i.e. to catch any problems between you and your advisor that you might not even know about) and to do your candidacy and final thesis defenses. 

Edited by TakeruK
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In my field you also get not-yet-tenured professors advising students and serving on dissertation committees. I believe that advising counts towards tenure and I've heard of some schools where you actually need to show successful mentoring (=students who have graduated) as part of your tenure case. I don't know how much it counts for, but still. Professors definitely do take students when they are just starting out on the tenure track. As others have noted, it's possible that they become more apprehensive about taking on new students 1-2 years before they go up for tenure in case they get denied and the student is left behind in the dust, but usually departments are able to take care of these students so I actually can't think of profs who are close to tenure in my field who are explicitly not taking on new students. 

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I think the field distinctions can be very narrow here, as in the US I've heard pure Humanities faculty recommended away from being committee chairs (although they *can* be) pre-tenure, while in social sciences and sciences, it's strongly encouraged.

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This probably correlates with how much advising would contribute to the professor's own research. In the sciences and at least some social sciences, you rely on collaborations to get work done, especially (but not only) if you work in a lab setting. You have to have graduate student (and maybe postdoc) advisees, otherwise you're not going to produce enough work to get tenure. If you're in the Humanities, I think advising is really completely separate from your own work and doesn't advance you personally at all. Moreover, you're normally not a co-author on your advisees' papers. In that situation, I can see why young professors would be advised not to commit to too much advising. 

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I would imagine that if professors were paid individually for each student they advised, it would create an incentive to take on as many students as possible while completing the minimum amount of work necessary to make sure each one graduated and earned you funds. Not a great model for a good mentor relationship.

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