What Advisors Do
McGill offers students access to a variety of advisors, mentors and counselors with different skills, expertise, and levels of authority. The information below will help you determine whether you need to speak to a faculty advisor, departmental/school advisor, professor/lecturer or peer advisor to help you resolve a given problem. Be sure to seek academic and personal advice from the advisor most closely attuned to your academic needs or personal situation.
All advisors provide an atmosphere of trust so you can feel free to talk about your situation in complete confidentiality. The typical types of advisors are described below.
Faculty advisors are usually located in the Student Affairs Office of each faculty and are available throughout the calendar year.
Faculty advisors can help you by:
- providing information about rules, regulations and requirements governing specific degree programs;
- offering guidance on choosing majors and minors, registering for courses, planning your credit load, and upcoming deadlines;
- helping you manage your academic situation during periods of personal, financial, or medical difficulty; and
- serving as your direct link to other University resources.
Departmental/school advisors are usually located near the professors' offices in a given department, and may only be available during specific times of the year — for example, during course registration periods, or at specified times during the week/month (often called "office hours").
If you are completing majors or minors in more than one school or department, you will likely have an advisor in each unit. This advisor may be a professor or a member of the administrative staff.
You should contact your school or department's administrative offices to determine who your academic advisors are and when they are available. You should also make sure that, from time to time — and certainly before your final year — you consult an academic advisor to make sure you will be graduating on schedule.
Departmental/school advisors can help you by:
- guiding your course selections to make sure you meet the requirements of your major or minor;
- evaluating your requests for course equivalencies, recommending prior approval for inter-university transfer credits, or explaining the rationale for the design of academic programs;
- providing information about scholarships, awards, research fellowships, university exchange programs and other opportunities;
- offering support and referrals in cases of academic or personal difficulty.
Your professors may offer to mentor you as you progress through your program. If this interests you, faculty and departmental/school advisors can work with you to find the best professor to guide you through your studies.
Professors and lecturers can help you by:
- advising you on the latest trends in a specific field of study and recommending appropriate readings;
- sharing potential research opportunities;
- providing general guidance related to your field of interest.
McGill is fortunate to have a strong network of student volunteers who have been trained by faculty or departmental/school advisors to offer general guidance on both academic and non-academic issues. These advisors often offer drop-in hours and can help you find information you need.
Peer advisors are only available in some faculties, departments and schools. You can contact your unit to find out if you have access to one. If not, your unit's advising team should be able to answer any questions you may have, or refer you to someone who can.
When to See an Advisor
What do you do if you've read through all the information that you can find on your Faculty and department website, in the eCalendar, here on the Advising website and on the Courses and Program website and you're still stumped about what courses to register for or what to do about a difficult situation? Now is the time to contact an advisor!
Go through the different types of advisors that are available to help you out and see who would be best to speak to in your particular situation.
For new students, the Advising Checklist will help guide you through your first year and remind you when to contact an advisor, if necessary.
Throughout your degree
It's recommended that you check in with the advisor for each of your programs at least once a year, to make sure that you're meeting your program requirements and to discuss any questions that you might have.
If you're in a degree such as Nursing, where you're completing only one specific program, this may mean only speaking with one advisor in your Student Affairs Office. If you're in a degree such as Arts, where you're completing multiple Major/Minor/Honours programs, you will need to contact a departmental advisor in each of those programs seperately.
At any time, if you're having difficulty of any kind, you can always contact any of your program advisors or an advisor in your Faculty for assistance.