The Neuroscience program provides a comprehensive system of advising for students throughout their graduate studies. During orientation the advising committee and program chair meet with new students to review the first-year requirements in general terms. Throughout the term, students are expected to meet individually with the chair or other members of the advising committee to identify faculty whose research is closest to their own interests and who would be most appropriate for laboratory rotations. At the end of the fall term, the entire advising committee meets informally with the first-year students to field questions that have come up after their initial entry into the program. In subsequent quarters, students' enrollment and performance in core courses and laboratory rotations are closely monitored and, as the need arises, students are counseled individually by the advising chair. At the end of Spring Quarter of the first year, students are required to submit a Faculty Mentor Approval Form (co-signed by the mentor) to the advising committee, which meets to consider the choice of mentor and the ability of the faculty to serve in this capacity.
All students are encouraged to develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) during the first quarter. This document should be continuously updated in consulation with the student adivisors, peers and family. It serves as a reminder that graduate school is not in itself a career and focuses attention on the life after graduate school which should be exciting rather than scary!
The advising program continues after each student has chosen a faculty research mentor. Every year students receive a memorandum outlining current requirements (for example, course electives, the written and oral qualifying examinations and midstream seminar). The advising committee also meets every year to discuss the progress of all students and identify potential problems. The committee then sends each student a letter that assesses their current progress in the program and makes specific recommendations as needed. An overall assessment of student progress is also made annually to the neuroscience committee. In addition to the formal advising procedures outlined above, students are repeatedly encouraged to seek advice on career development from faculty members in the UCLA neuroscience community. Finally, an annual retreat serves the purpose of allowing informal and organized contacts between faculty and students, which provides further opportunity for advising.