Dear UNL Graduate Students and Graduate Faculty Members:

An important part of the mission of the Office of Graduate Studies is to improve the quality of the graduate student experience. To that end, we spend a considerable amount of time listening to graduate students about their concerns and their suggestions for improving their graduate experience. Over the past several years, a common theme has emerged — graduate students' desire for effective mentoring.

Of course, many graduate students don't receive as much mentoring as they would like for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most of us face many varied and competing demands. Given these challenges, we believe both students and their mentors share responsibility for improving the quality of such support. There is no substitute for a healthy relationship between mentor and protégé; this is the key to successful mentoring.

This guidebook reflects UNL's recognition of the important role mentoring plays within graduate education. Its purpose is to promote effective mentoring by describing the key elements, roles, and stages of development associated with it along with practical strategies for nurturing rewarding relationships. Because mentoring is a two-way street, this guidebook is aimed at both faculty mentors and graduate student mentees.  Mentoring is key to success for all of those involved in graduate education, and we hope this guide will be a helpful resource for faculty, students, and staff alike.

The themes and recommendations outlined in this guidebook derive from several respected sources. First, we consulted resources and materials from our peer institutions and adapted many aspects of mentoring handbooks developed by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, University of Michigan, and the University of Washington. Their themes resonated well with our own campus experience. We also drew on findings from national studies and initiatives, such as the Re-envisioning the PhD project and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's Responsive PhD Initiative. Also, we drew on insights from UNL students, faculty, and staff who have participated in UNL's Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program.

The Office of Graduate Studies will continue to sponsor opportunities for faculty, students, and staff to promote a learning environment of excellence. We hope you will use this guide as a tool to reflect on and plan for your mentoring experiences, and to share your ideas with your peers, professors, and colleagues. We invite you to add your voice to those reflected in this guidebook by sharing your thoughts with us by sending email to Join us as we continue to discuss and address the role of mentoring in graduate education.

We wish you every success as you engage in the challenging and rewarding experiences of higher education.

Your Friends in the Office of Graduate Studies

Photo of faculty and students


In Greek mythology, Mentor is a friend of Odysseus and tutor of his son, Telemachus. On several occasions in the Odyssey, Athena assumes Mentor's form to give advice to Telemachus or Odysseus. Mentor's name is proverbial for a faithful and wise advisor.

Further Information

For further information about the guidebook or other issues related to mentoring of graduate students at UNL, contact the Office of Graduate Studies at 402-472-2875.


We thank the University of Washington for their generous permission to adapt their guidebook for graduate students, How to Obtain the Mentoring You Need.

We also thank the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan, for permission to use portions of their handbook How to Get the Mentoring You Need: A Guide for Graduate Students at a Diverse University, which also served as the original basis for the University of Washington's guidebook.