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Student Resources

Student Resources

Students and Mentors

You and your Ph.D. mentor share the responsibility for establishing a relationship that contributes to the successful pursuit of your graduate degree. Your mentoring relationship should reflect mutual respect, academic rigor, integrity, and open communication. The following guidelines outline the ideal responsibilities of each party in the mentoring relationship.

The Ideal Mentor:

  • Reads and returns work promptly, with constructive comments
  • Develops with the student a list of short- and long-term research and professional goals
  • Clarifies expectations and policies
  • Communicates regularly about research progress, scheduling changes, and workshops or seminars that will aid in the student’s professional development
  • Provides students with opportunities to develop and practice professional skills required for research, teaching, and service
  • Helps students develop an innovative dissertation topic
  • Helps students develop a marketable job dossier
  • Supports the variety of professional interests a student may have in research, industry, teaching, and service
  • Facilitates networking
  • Knows course and milestone requirements
  • Treats students respectfully as future colleagues

Acknowledges that students have responsibilities outside the academy.

The Ideal Student:

  • Chooses their mentor thoughtfully and wisely by becoming familiar with the professor’s research and professional interests
  • Has developed short- and long-term professional and research goals, and shares these goals with their mentor
  • Is aware of their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Submits work promptly and attends meetings prepared with specific goals, questions and tasks to be accomplished in that meeting
  • Communicates regularly with faculty about their progress, changes in focus, and professional needs


Certain issues, such as sexual harassment and violations of academic integrity must be handled by the appropriate USC individual or office. Examples include: Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services (RSVP), USC Office of Equity and Diversity, and USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

If a student has a problem or complaint regarding an appointment as a TA, RA, or AL, then the problem should be brought immediately to the attention of the supervising faculty or staff to whom the TA, RA, or AL is responsible. If a solution cannot be reached, then resolution should then be sought through the department or program chair, and then the Dean of the academic unit. Additional information can be found in the Handbook for Teaching Assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs), and Graduate Assistant Lecturers (ALs)

Disputed academic evaluation and graduate student dismissal appeals policies and processes are outlined in SCampus, Part C – Academic Policies

In the event that an academic dispute results in the dismissal of a graduate student from their academic unit, and mediation is unsuccessful, The Graduate School will work with the student through a formal appeal of the academic evaluation. For more information, see the Disputed Academic Evaluation Procedures section of SCampus, the USC student handbook.

Academic Dismissal Appeal Guidelines

Please see SCampus for basic information about the appeal option – Disputed Academic Evaluation Procedures

A Graduate School Dismissal Appeal provides the final consideration of a student’s dismissal from a graduate program when the dismissal has been upheld by the dean of the relevant school. This does not include students who have been dismissed for academic integrity violations, students who have not met the conditions of continuing registration, or professional standards violations. The Graduate School will schedule the appeal once the student provides written verification of dismissal and states in writing that they want to proceed with the appeal within 30 days of the dismissal.

The appeal panel has three members: the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Dean of the Graduate School  or a designee, who chairs the meeting; and two members who are deans or dean designees drawn from schools other than the school of the dismissed student. The dismissed student and a representative of the student’s program or school are expected to be present at the panel meeting, with the exception of students prevented from being present due to visa issues, who may participate by video conferencing technology. The dismissed student and program or school representative may each be accompanied by an additional 1-2 people if desired. The presence of an attorney is neither necessary nor recommended. However, if the student elects to have an attorney present, an attorney from the USC General Counsel’s Office will also attend. The dismissed student must notify the Graduate School in writing that they intend to bring an attorney at the beginning of the scheduling process. Attorneys may be present only as observers. The presence of attorneys does not change the proceeding.

The format of the appeal meeting is below. The dismissed student may share speaking time with an accompanying person if they desire to do so. The representative of the school or program has the same option. Following the appeal meeting, the panel will deliberate in closed session and the Dean of the Graduate School will make a final decision on the appeal.


Materials for the appeal must be submitted electronically as PDFs at least 14 days before the scheduled appeal meeting and will be distributed to the panel, the dismissed student, and the program or school representatives.

Provided by the student

  • Written verification of dismissal from the student’s program
  • Written denial of appeal from the student’s school dean
  • Any other relevant materials


Provided by the department or school

For master’s and professional doctoral students:

  • USC transcript, OASIS, or STARS report
  • Letter of admission
  • Any continuing registration requirements and any offers of financial aid
  • Any other relevant materials, such as warning, dismissal, or readmission letters

For PhD Students:

  • USC transcript, OASIS, or STARS report
  • Multi-year funding offer letter
  • Any notice of continuing registration requirements
  • A record of the student’s PhD funding by semester
  • Any other relevant materials, assessments of the student’s performance on screening exams, qualifying exams, progress on dissertation, and warning, dismissal, or readmission letters


Format of the appeal meeting

  • Appeal panel chair – introduction and overview of the process
  • Dismissed student – presentation of issues (15 minutes maximum)
  • Department/school representative – presentation of issues (15 minutes maximum)
  • Dismissed student – optional further remarks (15 minutes maximum)
  • Department/school representatives – optional further remarks (15 minutes maximum)
  • Dismissed student – optional final remarks (10 minutes maximum)
  • Questions by appeal panel members (panel members may also ask questions during the presentations)
  • All are excused except panel members
  • Deliberation by panel members
  • Written Decision of Dean of the Graduate School sent to participants within 14 days

If you have questions about the process, or if you would like to request that an appeal panel be convened, please contact

USC Advisor Connect

The stand-alone USC Advisor Connect service has now been merged into the new Advise USC system. Advise USC is available to students across the university, and enables direct communication with academic advisors.

To submit a request for support, students should

  • Navigate to the Advise USC website
  • Click on the “Advisor Connect” heading
  • Click on “Create a New Case”
  • Select “Get support from my current advisor”
  • Enter the subject, description, topic and subtopic, and select the advisor to whom they want to send their case


Advisors may need additional information to resolve your requests, so make sure to respond when requested. Allow 2-3 business days for a response from your academic advisor. Submitting additional cases will not result in your case being addressed more quickly.