I'm very interested in working with a specific professor, who is a full-time full professor in one department, and adjunct faculty in another. In this case he is not a part-time adjunct who only teaches. I'm more interested in being a grad student in the second department, for a number of reasons that aren't important to go into.

In the US, would it be typical for such a professor to be able to supervise a grad student in the second department? Or is this likely to vary by school? The department website is unclear.

I know I can ask him, but I thought this would be a valuable question for the community as well.

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    Not a proper answer, but some places do "joint appointments", including "courtesy" (0% obligation) positions for a professor who has a full appointment elsewhere. In at least 3 major state Universities, this means a professor can advise students from any department they have such in appointment. In some places there appear to be more restrictions, so I do not know how universal this is or how an "adjunct" title may enter into it.
    – BrianH
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:57
  • @brianh he teaches one cross-listed course a year. I don't know if this makes him more or less likely to be able to be a PhD supervisor tho Jun 20, 2018 at 20:17
  • And how did the professor answer when you asked him this question? (You did ask the professor this question, didn't you?)
    – JeffE
    Jun 20, 2018 at 21:41
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    @jeffe He's notoriously bad at email and so I dont have an answer yet. Will share when I hear. Jun 20, 2018 at 21:43
  • And when you asked him in person, after politely knocking on his office door?
    – JeffE
    Jun 21, 2018 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


In our department (Ohio, US) the rule is that to supervise a graduate student, you need to go through a certain "credentialing process" (should have a certain number of publications in the area, hold a degree in one of several possible fields related to mathematics, etc.) so if somebody from other departments wants to supervise our students, all he formally needs to do is to submit an application, have his credentials verified, and go ahead. It is not something that happens often but it does sometimes and right now I'm trying to figure out how it works with co-advising from a different country. So, it is nothing unheard of but the exact rules and procedures may vary widely, which means that your best bet is to ask the department chair or secretary. The department websites usually do not display such things. One should read thick regulation handbooks for faculty to find them out and there is no reason why you should dig into any of those yourself instead of asking people whose duty is to know all such stuff or exactly where to look for it.


Universities have individual specific policies on the supervision of research students, so it is unlikely that there is any general rule that is sufficiently uniform across universities to apply to this question. Nevertheless, if a professor is a full-time faculty member, and has sufficient experience to supervise graduate students as a primary supervisor, it is unlikely to be a large impediment if the professor is in another faculty. It is more likely that there will be a negotiation between faculties to decide which faculty gets credit for this work, and whether you need to more your enrolment to the faculty containing your primary supervisor.

The rules for supervision of graduate students are usually centralised rules of the university, so they are unlikely to be on the webpage for a particular department. You should inquire with the student administration section of your university to find their rules and policies for supervision of graduate students. It is likely that your university will have a specific written set of rules that apply to the whole university, and which should show the requirements for a supervisory role.

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