Thesis Research Advising Policy
The primary purpose of the master's advisor(s) in the MSS program is to serve as a mentor, helping to guide students in their academic development and to support them as they prepare for their thesis research and practicum. Because MSS is an interdisciplinary degree program with only a few full-time faculty members, the program relies significantly on faculty in relevant departments and graduate institutes to advise its students. The program greatly appreciates this advising support, and our staff and the assigned academic mentors will be available to answer questions and assist as needed. Advisors (especially joint faculty members and affiliated lecturers from outside of the program) are not expected to know the details of program policies or degree requirements; the program staff (Student Services Officer) takes the lead in communicating and advising students on these matters and are also available to support students with course selection, practicum guidance, and more.
1. Assigning an Academic Mentor
The program office will assign each student a full-time faculty member as an academic mentor during their education in the program. The assigned academic mentor will be available to support the student in developing their study plan and to give advice on seeking out an appropriate thesis advisor(s). Students can approach their academic mentor to serve as their thesis advisor if their advising relationship is a good fit for both parties.
2. Confirming an Advisor
Prior to applying to the MSS master’s program, all candidates are encouraged to identify a faculty member(s) who can potentially serve as their thesis advisor. The thesis advisor must be a full-time or joint faculty member of the program who typically holds the title of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor. In contrast, instructors or affiliated faculty with the title of lecturer, adjunct professor, or professor of practice are generally not eligible to serve as thesis advisors. If the student is not sure about the status of a prospective advisor, please contact the MSS program staff (Student Services Officer) to verify. In limited cases, a student may also be permitted to engage a co-advisor who is not a full-time faculty member. Candidates who would like to explore a co-advising relationship should consult with the MSS program staff (Student Services Officer) in advance.
In seeking out potential advisors, students are encouraged to develop their study plan and research faculty backgrounds to identify those with shared interests and academic focus areas that they would like to emphasize in their own studies. Candidates are encourage to seek out an advisor from the program’s faculty list. As a starting point, students may wish to consult the MSS program website, which includes a list of faculty members who are affiliated with the MSS program (note that not all who are listed are eligible to serve as thesis advisors). Once a student has developed a short list of carefully considered potential advisors, the student should contact the faculty member to ask for a meeting to explore whether an advising relationship could be a good ﬁt for both parties.
3. Advising Expectations
A prospective thesis advisor meets with a student prior to the end of the first semester to:
• Discuss the student’s interests and motivation for the intended research topics;
• Discuss what the advisor/advisee relationship will be; and
• Review, discuss and sign the student's intended research and coursework proposal. The advisor's signature on the intended research and coursework proposal is required by the end of the first semester and serves as a confirmation of the faculty member's willingness to serve in the advising role. The student must also review their coursework proposal with the MSS Student Services Officer to ensure compliance with the program requirements.
Once admitted, the student and advisor should meet monthly to:
• Consider the student’s proposed courses for the upcoming semester;
• Discuss career goals and practicum ideas;
• Help connect the student with sustainability networks in/outside of NCKU in support of the student’s practicum and/or career;
• Review the student’s thesis research and practicum proposal and attend the final defense. The academic mentor is an additional student resource, specifically for practicum planning, mentoring, and completion. Students are expected to talk with their advisor and academic mentor about this aspect of the program.
• Engage the student in relevant research and practicum opportunities and projects;
• Discuss the student’s well-being and any support they may need.
The student is responsible for scheduling the monthly advising meeting. If a student is on leave of absence, the program encourages him/her to check in with his/ her advisor each month via email. If an advisor is on sabbatical, it is expected that planning for this would have been covered in an earlier meeting. Most faculty members on sabbatical continue the advising relationship with existing advisees, and meetings shift from in-person to phone or video conference.