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Graduate Professional Advisors
for considering serving as a professional advisor (PA) for
one of our graduate students. To assist you in making this decision, please
find below some frequently asked questions about the role:
What is a professional advisor (PA)?
the MA program in applied professional
studies, each graduate student designs and pursues learning and
demonstrates competency in relation to a professional area of focus. In
so doing, he/she identifies and nominates a “master practitioner” in that area
(or a closely related area) to join with his/her faculty mentor (from DePaul’s resident
faculty) to help guide the program of study. Together, these three individuals
(student, faculty mentor and professional advisor) form the student’s academic
committee and work to help the student identify long-range professional goals
and crucial professional competencies and provide the student with ongoing support throughout the program as he/she works to accomplish those
What are the qualifications and responsibilities associated with the PA role?
- Possessing an advanced academic
degree appropriate to the student’s graduate focus area (typically a minimum of
a master’s degree) and/or evidence of an equivalent record of distinguished
involvement and practice (teaching, publication, service) relevant to the focus
area. [Note: To avoid conflicts-of-interest,
relatives and/or individuals currently serving in direct reporting relationships
to students are not eligible to serve as professional advisors.]
- Serving as the student’s primary
advisor regarding the graduate focus area. (This function includes interacting
with the student regularly as he/she moves through the program.)
- Assisting the student in refining
his/her graduate learning plan for the focus area and identifying appropriate professional competencies (sought outcomes), learning activities (the means to
achieve them) and learning products (demonstrations).
- Participating in the student’s
academic committee meeting and, if possible, his/her initial assessment and
integration session. Both of these meetings include further orientation to the
PA role as well as the MA program in applied professional studies in general.
- Reviewing and approving all
proposals for work in the focus area (as presented in the learning plan or
amended learning agreements).
- Assessing no more than 75 percent of the
student’s learning products completed in the focus area—providing substantive
feedback within two weeks of receipt of products.
- Assisting in the identification
of additional assessors for the remaining learning products completed in the
- Serving as assessor and primary
advisor for the culmination phase of the student’s program, i.e., supplemental
competencies or integrating project proposal/final project.
- Participating (if possible) in
the student’s graduation review session at program’s end.
What are the typical time commitments associated with the PA role?
- Design/Brainstorming Stage: A few
hours interspersed through this stage to brainstorm the focus area with the
student and review his/her initial plan for exploring such.
- Academic Committee Meeting: A
meeting (with the student and faculty mentor) of approximately two hours to
offer final and official review/refinement of the student’s learning plan,
i.e., when it is ready for such review.
Coaching: Periodic exchanges (via email, phone or in-person) with the
student as mutually determined by both the student and the PA. The program
recommends that these interactions transpire at least once a quarter and
address progress in the program to date, learning in the focus area, new
- Assessment of Learning: Review
and assessment of learning products developed by the student. As soon as the
student’s graduate learning plan is approved, the student is free to engage the
learning activities and produce the learning products. Typically, the numbers
of products range between nine and 13. Upon completion, each product is: (a)
self-assessed by the student; (b) assessed by either the PA or some other
relevant “practitioner” depending on the focus of the particular project; and
then, (c) assessed by the faculty mentor. For items involving the PA, the assessment
process typically takes 45-60 minutes per product and may involve an iterative
process of coaching the student on advance drafts prior to considering the
product for final assessment.
- Culmination Coaching and Review:
Possible consultation and assessment regarding a final integrating project. At
the end of the program, the student may choose to complete an “integrating
project.” If he/she chooses this option, the student will prepare a proposal
for the PA and faculty mentor’s
review, and once approved, complete the project and submit it for PA and
faculty mentor assessment. At this stage of the student’s program, the PA's role
might involve a few hours of consultation about possible integrating projects,
review of the project proposal and assessment of the final product.
What remuneration is available to the PA?
Full payment for a PA’s
professional services is not possible. However, the program hopes that the
opportunity to work with a committed graduate student and, through such, to
contribute to and invest in the future of one’s field offer some deep and
generative “return” to the PA.
One Final Thought…
comments above are general and are obviously subject to being shaped by the
unique relationship between each student and his/her PA. Fundamentally,
however, the hallmark of this graduate program is “self-directed/self-managed learning” …and, all of its students are
“seasoned professionals” to one degree or another. Hence, the PA and faculty
mentor roles are more akin to “coaching and providing feedback” than
“leading/motivating” per se. In short,
the large majority of the program’s graduate students pride themselves on their
initiative, follow-through, dependability and thoroughness, i.e., they are
working in, and through, this graduate program to deepen and broaden their
competencies as worthy and dynamic colleague-professionals—not as
How do we proceed?
student nominates his/her potential PA to the faculty mentor by submitting: (1)
a brief rationale for the nomination; and, (2) a copy of the PA’s current
resume. The faculty mentor then contacts the prospective PA to discuss the role
in greater detail and to determine, on behalf of the MAAPS program and DePaul
University, if the fit is appropriate. If appropriate, the program then sends
the PA a letter of agreement—which the PA signs and returns (along with other
key documentation required by the university for payment purposes). See also Additional PA Information