Graduate Student Resources
Resources for Graduate Students and Ways to Get Help
At many points during your graduate career you will probably have questions you’d like to ask someone, great ideas you’d like to share, or concerns you’d like someone to address. Please know that there are many people here on campus to answer those questions, help, and support you. Before we go into specifics of who to ask for help, please know that the majority of people on campus are “responsible reporters.” This means that they are obligated to share any information that has been disclosed to them regarding discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct with the Office of Equal Opportunity. If you are hoping to have a confidential conversation about one of these topics, you will find a list of confidential resources later in this section.
Most issues can be best addressed by those closely associated with your graduate program or with Division of Science staff and faculty so we encourage you to seek assistance from this group first. We recognize that sometimes there may be a particular person that you are more comfortable speaking with or that one faculty member may be holding multiple roles/positions, but we suggest that you reach out to for assistance in the following general order (see schematic at the top as well):
- Your PI/Advisor: Your first stop should be your PI/advisor, if you have chosen one by this point. Your advisor will have the most intimate knowledge of your research/program progress and career goals, and is here to help train and guide you. PIs usually have regular meetings with their students and this is a good time to bring up concerns. If you are in a program with lab rotations and you are still rotating, you should feel comfortable talking to your rotation PI.
- A member of your committee (once you have one, if your program has advisory committees): You are always welcome to reach out to any faculty member on your committee. While not tied to your progress as closely as your PI/advisor, they will be familiar with your progress in your program and will have sufficient background knowledge on your project and your goals to provide personalized support. Committee members will be especially good resources if you have concerns about some aspect of your project design or results. Also keep in mind also that while annual meetings with your committee may be required, you can call additional meetings at any time.
- DGS (Director of Graduate Study, or chair of your grad program): This faculty member oversees your grad program as a whole, and is here to support all students in the program. They will be extremely knowledgeable in the program’s requirements and are also tuned in to the current GSAS and University policies. Early in your grad career when you have not yet chosen an advisor, it is the DGS’s job to support you. Later on, the DGS may be a good person to contact if a few students from different labs have shared concerns. The specific faculty member who fills this role may change from year-to-year, so check with your program administrator or check your program website for the current DGS first.
- Your program’s Department Chair: This faculty member oversees the department that your grad program falls under and is a step above your DGS. If you have concerns that aren’t necessarily specific to your grad program but are relevant to the department as a whole, the chair may have good insight. Chairs are good to talk to if concerns are shared with other populations in the department such as staff, postdocs, or undergraduates. The specific faculty member who fills this role may change from year-to-year, so check with your program administrator or check your program website for the current Chair.
- The Head of the Division of Science: This faculty member oversees the entire Division of Science, and works to support all of the departments and graduate programs within the sciences. The head of the Division of Science has frequent meetings with individual program and department chairs, as well as with leaders across the University, so they will be knowledgeable about current Division and University practices. They are here to support and advocate for the entire science community. Talk to them if people from different graduate programs or departments have a shared concern or to raise. In particular, concerns about research integrity should be brought to the attention of the Head of the Division of Science. As with the DGS, the faculty member in this role can change from time-to-time. In academic year 2022-20223, the chair of the Division of Science is Bulbul Chakraborty.
In parallel to these program-level and Division-level faculty resources, there are non-faculty resources within the Division who you can go to for help. The following are good places to go to for help:
- The Division of Science Grad Affairs Office: This office is the administrative home for most of the graduate programs within the Division of Science(Computer Science and Psychology are the exceptions). The staff here work closely with grad students and faculty to administratively oversee those graduate programs and to monitor student progress. The staff in this office know your program’s faculty, are well-versed in your program’s requirements and policies, and are up-to-date with the other sources of support on-campus. If you are unsure about who to talk to first the DivSci Grad Affairs Office is often a good place to start as they can help you decide who to approach and how to have that conversation. Within this office, either Anna Esposito, Anne Lazerson, or Jane Theriault is the primary contact for your graduate program. You should also feel free to contact Maryanna Aldrich, who oversees this group.
- Your Department Administration: These staff work in your department’s office and are here to help their entire department community. These staff may be a bit less familiar with your graduate program requirements, but they know your department’s faculty and any non-grad-program details about your department well. If you are in the Computer Science or Computer Science graduate program, your department office serves the role described above for the DivSci Grad Affairs Office.
- The DivSci Pre-Award Office: If you are applying for grants or fellowships, please loop these staff in. They may be able to provide guidance and help you navigate the submission process.
- Your program’s Grad Department Representatives (GDRs): These graduate students were elected to represent the student body in your graduate program. One of the roles of the GDR is to bring concerns from students as a whole to the program faculty or to GSAS, so if you have a concern that you are comfortable discussing with your GDR it’s a good idea to let them know. They cannot bring these concerns to the faculty to advocate for all students if they don’t know about them, and there may be other students with similar concerns. Your GDRs may hold a student “town hall” once a semester or year to bring up issues, and this is a good forum to discuss some topics that may be weighing on your mind.
The flow chart at the top of this page demonstrates the general hierarchy of sources of support.
Outside of the general hierarchy of Division of Science places to go to for help, that are various other entities on campus here to support students. These resources on campus are dedicated to supporting graduate students:
- The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS): GSAS oversees all graduate programs within the school of Arts & Sciences at Brandeis and is invested in the success of all graduate students in these programs. If you have a topic that you’d rather discuss with someone outside of the Division or want a non-DivSci perspective on, the staff in this office are a great resource for graduate students. GSAS is also a good resource if you are uncomfortable discussing a topic with any of the resources mentioned so far or if you have not made sufficient progress in those discussions. Depending on the topic that you have raised with faculty or administrative staff, they may have already contacted GSAS for advice/assistance on how to help or to handle the next steps. GSAS and your program/department faculty or the Head of the Division of Science frequently work together to support students, resolve problems, and enact positive changes. Please visit their staff directoryto explore the areas GSAS can help with. If you are in a research group with limited funding, GSAS provides conference and research awards for PhD students and Master’s students. They also strongly encourage students to apply for external fellowships and grants.
- The Office of Graduate Affairs: This office is a home and source of support for all graduate students at Brandeis, including those studying at the Heller School, the Rabb School, or the International Business School. Graduate Student Affairs provides students with information and events about graduate life at Brandeis and community resources.
- The Graduate Student Association (GSA): Supported by The Office of Graduate Affairs, the GSA is an independent student body that represents all graduate students and provides a platform for graduate students to raise issues and concerns and build community. If you have a concern about an issue affecting graduate students that extends past your program, department, and the Division of Science, the GSA is a good group to talk to. To connect with them, visit their website to see the current year’s grad student exective committee.
There are some offices on campus that specialize in specific topics and who will almost always be the best resource for those topics:
- The Office of Research Administration (ORA): ORA, which reports to the Vice Provost for Research, can help with issues related to research integrity and compliance. If you want to discuss the possibility of research misconduct, you may wish to report things there directly.
- The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO): ISSO supports all of Brandeis’ international students and scholars. This office determines visa eligibility and prepares and issues visa documents. If you ever have any questions about your Visa or any of the associated reglations (e.g. travel, CPT, OPT), you should reach out to your ISSO advisor. They can advise students on rights and responsibilities and provide guidance regarding issues that may impact your legal status. Their website also has a collection of useful information for international students.
- Student Acessibility Support: If you are a student with a disability and in need of academic or non-academic accommodations, this office can support you and help you navigate this process. The definition of a person with a disability is broad, and may students who do not think of themselves as students with disabilities may qualify for support under the law. Even if are you not sure if you will quality, you are encouraged to reach out to SAS.
As mentioned at the start of this section, there are some topics that responsible reporters on campus cannot keep confidential, and those are issues of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct. The office on campus that addresses these issues is the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). OEO provides information regarding support resources, information about taking action (internal resolution processes and criminal action), inquiries and investigations into concerns, processes to address grievances, and training for the Brandeis community. Please visit their website for contact information and steps (and an an online form) to file a report. You are welcome to contact a resource listed above for support or advice about these topics, but they will be obligated to share the issue with OEO.