Academic advising is carried out by the Advising Committee. In view of the exceptional diversity of the students in the program, the Committee reviews the background of each student, and in consultation with the student, decides on his or her curriculum. The goal is to provide a flexible yet structured program so students of diverse backgrounds will receive the appropriate training for their research interests.
Each incoming student meets individually with the Advising Committee at the beginning of the semester to select courses for the fall, and at the end of December to select spring courses. A group meeting is held in early April to discuss summer lab rotations. Rising second year students meet individually with the Advising Committee mid-July to discuss fall courses and at the end of December to select spring courses, although some students may not need this second meeting if they have fulfilled all course requirements.
Students are assigned a faculty mentor as soon as they are accepted into the program. The role of the mentor is to provide informal advice on more general aspects of graduate education, such as adjustment to graduate life, guidance in career paths, and to advise a student in choosing a Thesis Advisor.
In addition to the regular advising provided by the Advising Committee, the Graduate Group provides extensive support for practical issues that may limit the productivity of students. The Student Affairs Committee organizes workshops on topics such as writing a thesis, applying for fellowships, and how to get the most out of your thesis committee.
The University's Office of Career Services provides a wealth of career information on its website. It works with all Penn students to help them define career goals through individual counseling and workshops on a wide range of topics including resume writing, interviewing, networking. It also sponsors on-campus recruiting sessions and maintains lists of job opportunities.