Obtaining appropriate guidance about your academic choices as well as the administrative methods you use to carry them out, is crucial to a smooth graduate career. In the U-M Department of Physics, graduate advising is provided by a team of resources: Graduate Mentors (faculty members designated by the Department to assist students), a dissertation advisor you select, and the Associate Chair for the Graduate Program.
As soon as you arrive in the Department, you will meet with your Graduate Mentor to discuss your academic path and course selections. Your Graduate Mentor will outline the suggested curricular core, waive any requirements that you have fulfilled by other course work or experiences, and help you design a plan that will:
1) give you the appropriate general background for a physics degree
2) meet the needs of your intended specialization
The Graduate Mentor will be your primary advisor for your first couple of years in the Department, answering your questions about requirements and helping mesh your personal background with departmental policies and procedures.
After you spend some time learning about the Department's faculty and projects, you will choose an advisor to serve as the chair of your preliminary exam committee and, ultimately, your dissertation committee. This faculty member will become your primary mentor for both your course work and research endeavors. Taking advantage of all opportunities to get to know faculty, to discuss individual research activities, and to gain insight into the various research groups will help you select this person with care.
Finally, the Associate Chair for the Graduate Program is a faculty member appointed to oversee the graduate program in the broadest way. The Associate Chair determines many of the policies that govern graduate student life and is available to help with any questions or concerns, academic or otherwise.