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What would you call the temporary advisor assigned to a PhD student upon enrolment, who is in charge of the student until the student finds his/her research advisor? "temporary advisor", or "course advisor", or ...? Thanks!

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Their first name. – JeffE Dec 30 '13 at 14:16
@JeffE: In application to other PhD programs. – T.. Dec 30 '13 at 15:34

In the program where I currently work, we call such advisors "academic advisors," which makes the distinction with the "research advisor" or "thesis advisor" fairly obvious.

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I'd imagine the particular terminology varies from one department to another. I've heard that called a "provisional" advisor. In my department you start with a "provisional committee" of two people. The provisional advisor is assigned based on the student's research interests, so often they wind up being the "real" advisor too, later on.

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The term when I was a first-year PhD student was a "temporary advisor". There isn't a huge difference on how you call this person; people on the admission committee have been through graduate school too, and they'll get it. Don't worry on the details too much, and spend more time on the SOP.

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