Queen's School of Computing

A supervisor is a professor who is essentially a graduate student's boss. All supervisors should offer assistance to their students throughout their studies including, but not limited to:

  • guidance regarding program requirements;
  • insight around course selection, research topics and/or project implementation;
  • assistance writing research papers and submitting them for publication;
  • help overcoming research or project difficulties; and,
  • tracking students' progress and schedule for completion.
Supervisors also offer financial support to students in research-based programs.

Prospective graduate students who have applied to a research- or project-based program are required to find a supervisor before they can be accepted to the School of Computing. A good place to start is this website's "Faculty" page, which features brief profiles about all of the professors within the School.

You should consider (at minimum) the following two questions during your search:

  • do I want to conduct research with this person; and,
  • do I want this person as my manager?
It is vital that your research interests align, but it is equally important to maintain a good working relationship with your supervisor. Not everyone who excels academically makes a good manager and shared interests do not guarantee that two people will work well together. There are many aspects to supervision and you should do your research to determine if a potential supervisor will be a good fit.

When you meet with a potential supervisor (once you introduce yourself), you should discuss:

  • your research interests and potential thesis or project topics;
  • how students supervised by the professor typically progress through the program;
  • what support the professor offers to students, both technical and financial;
  • what the professor's research lab is like; and,
  • any other questions you might have.
Also consider how well you and your potential supervisor communicated - can you see yourself discussing both positive and negative events during your time as a graduate student in a constructive manner?

Where possible, it would very be helpful to meet with one of the potential supervisor's current graduate students as well. Ask the same questions and determine if the professor's perspective matches the student's reality.

Finally, remember that no supervisor or graduate student is perfect. Try to determine if your flaws are complementary to your potential supervisor's or if you're likely to clash. Obvious personality and work-style conflicts are best avoided as they will negatively affect your studies.