Supervision can be both rewarding and challenging for the supervisor and supervisee. Teaching and Learning Services works with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to provide support to professors and students through workshops and resources.


One key resource is the Supervision: Graduate and Postdoctoral Support website which offers over 40 pages of research-based practical advice and guidance on the supervisory relationship. ?Learn how to avoid common problems in supervision and needless delays in degree completion.


Below you will find workshops to assist you in navigating the supervisory relations from managing conflict to recognizing student at risk.
For upcoming offerings, please refer to the?events calendar.

Supervisory Alliance in Graduate Supervision

What is a supervisory alliance? The session will introduce a framework to discuss this relationship between supervisor and supervisee in terms of the Bond, Goals, and Tasks. The presentation and discussion will provide you with suggestions, ideas and a model to enable you to collaborate more successfully with your graduate students.


  • Develop a productive supervisory relationship
  • Collaborate on setting goals
  • Help your student navigate the program


Clarifying Expectations in Graduate Supervision

Imagine preventing common mistakes and avoiding confusion when taking on new graduate students. Clarifying Expectations is about articulating roles and responsibilities in supervisory relationships before problems or miscommunications occur.

In this workshop, we will discuss existing?Letters of Understanding, work together to set the goals and outcomes, and focus on writing a letter that suits your needs.


  • Develop with your student a mutual understanding? of the supervisory relationship
  • Create a structure for your students’ progress through the program
  • Create a Letter?of Understanding that makes explicit the expectations within the supervisory relationship


Bumps in the Road in Graduate Supervision: A conflict resolution discussion?

As a professor, supervising graduate students is in most cases very rewarding. However, the supervisory experience can present professors with many challenges including conflict and at times, ineffective resolution of such conflict. If you would like to learn new strategies to improve communication with supervisees, you might be interested in training in conflict resolution, and in learning how to communicate expectations and responsibilities.

This workshop is designed to help supervisors build communication with supervisees and learn how to effectively prevent and manage conflict in their relationships. Considering that personalities, conflict styles and coping mechanisms for stress differ from relationship to relationship, individuals must learn how to adapt to one another in order to find an effective way of working together. This workshop will provide the strategies to do exactly that, along with practice to engage in challenging conversations.

Learning Objectives (Learn how to…)

  • Start the relationship to ensure expectations are met and boundaries are respected
  • Build trust and ensure a long-lasting relationship
  • Concretely address issues as they arise in a respectful manner

Recognizing and Supporting Students At-Risk in Graduate Supervision?

In this workshop, facilitators will present information to help you identify evidence of mental health problems, and to decide when to refer a student.

We will consider strategies for effective boundary setting and discuss the resulting mutual benefits for supervisors and supervisees. Each participant will be asked to present some hypothetical experiences during this workshop.



Writing Effective Reference Letters for Student Fellowships

Professors are often asked to write letters of reference by students applying for awards and employment. While time-consuming and sometimes difficult, a strong reference letter can change the outcome of any application. This workshop will help you write effective letters for all situations, and even handle unrealistic requests.

By the end of this workshop, you will:

  • Know the fellowship application and letter review process from the adjudicators’ perspective
  • Acquire the tools & strategies to draft a “memorable” versus a “good” letter
  • Avoid common mistakes when writing reference letters
  • Learn to represent McGill students by writing effective reference letters for:
    • Excellent students applying to high-profile, elite competitions
    • Good students applying to general competitions
    • Other students in varying situations Identify when and how to say ‘no’

Writing Effective Reference Letters will help you save valuable time and effort, while helping your students (and McGill!) stand out in a competitive world.



McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours, recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we meet today.
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