I want a good relationship with my advisor. But he is very busy with his projects and I am very busy with my master thesis as well. It is very clear to me where my project is going, I just need time to get it done. So basically, for now I don't need to meet my advisor and he doesn't have time anyways. For technical questions I can always ask some PhD students from him and I work usually at home.

I guess emailing once a month with updates would only overload his email address. Do you have any other ideas how to keep a good relationship with my advisor although there is no direct need for it? No matter how good of an advising this is, what can I do to make a good relationship?

2 Answers 2


First of, you are absolutely asking the right question ("what can I do to make a good relationship?"). The answer depends a bit on the preferences of your advisor - what works for some may not work for others. Here are a few things you could think about:

  • You say you work from home. This automatically decouples you from the lab and your advisor. Have you thought whether it would be possible to work in the lab (if they have room for you) for, for instance, two days a week? This would also help make sure that you stay on the track your advisor wants your research to go, see also Nicholas' answer.
  • You say you work mainly with some of his PhD students. Try to bond and network with the PhD students you like, and impress them with your technical aptitude and motivation. Thinking back on my PhD advisor, the only master students he really remembered were the ones that his PhD students were constantly praising in their meetings with him.
  • See if there is a chance to publish something (with your advisor) in the context of your master's thesis. This not only shows motivation, but also has an immediate benefit for your advisor. During paper writing, you will also automatically have a number of meetings with your advisor.
  • If you are interested in doing a PhD, indicate this to your advisor and ask for feedback. I have the impression that many professors take significantly more interest in master students that want to stay on the academic path than in those that are about to leave to industry.

Keeping your advisor up to date with how your work is going is important. You might think that your work is going along the correct path, but it is quite possible in research to start heading off down a path which - while possibly interesting - may not be the route your supervisor wants you to go down (at least, not without discussing it first).

One way of damaging a good working student-advisor relationship is to end up in a situation where your advisor is demanding to know why you have taken the research in a new direction, without consulting your advisor for his/her advice.

I do not think that a monthly update is going to overload your advisor's email account - unless he or she is an internet hermit. If you are worried about annoying your advisor with information overload, you could always end your initial email reports with words indicating that you are more than happy to talk face-to-face about your progress, or say that you are happy to make the email updates less frequent.

No advisor wants to be left in the dark about what their students are doing. A good advisor will not consider a regular email update from their student a negative prospect - so long as you don't try your advisor's patience with multi-page long emails. For an MSc thesis project - where time is tight - I think that reporting on a monthly basis is about right.

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