I am just starting a graduate program in physics. I have read a few posts describing what a PhD student should think about when looking for an advisor, but I have a question regarding the advisor's perspective: what do graduate advisors look for, generally speaking, in their prospective advisees? I.e. what is the relative importance of research background, grades, and other factors?

I have been told by some older students that (assuming there was sufficient funding) if there is a personality mesh and the student's work ethic is solid then an advisor will tend to accept a grad student, or is the process more nuanced/competitive?

  • 1
    In some countries the school you graduate from is everything. In France it is almost impossible to get a decent* advisor in mathematics if you didn't graduate from an ENS (Lyon or Ulm), or from Polytechnique. *By decent, I mean whose influence is strong enough to support you for tenure. Soft factors like personality isn't usually evaluated (how would you do that reliably?) and don't matter (at least, not until the PhD phase has started)
    – Evariste
    Dec 28 '18 at 0:23
  • I feel like I've read a similar question before, but can't find it.
    – henning
    Dec 28 '18 at 0:55
  • A very small number of academics receive very many applications. Most get relatively few applications and have few choices. Dec 28 '18 at 4:55
  • What country are you asking about? In many countries, supervisors are decided before starting a PhD.
    – astronat
    Dec 28 '18 at 15:46

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