The Peer Mentoring program was created to decrease inappropriate early attrition and promote academic success in PhD programs at Washington University in St. Louis.

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentors are students in each Graduate School department who provide encouragement, information, and personal and professional support to students who are just beginning a graduate program.They can give advice on coursework, research, degree milestones, and professional protocol. Departments can also convene Reading Groups, which are focused on supporting students at the dissertation stage of their coursework. Responsibilities of Peer Mentor coordinators and departmental peer mentors include:
  • COMMITMENT: Students who wish to become peer mentors are asked to commit to their departmental mentoring program for at least one year. Ideally, peer mentors would commit for two years, gaining experience in their first year as a peer mentor and passing on that experience to new mentors in the second.
  • AVAILABILITY: Peer mentors are encouraged to be available in multiple ways, including offering students an email address, office location, and at least one phone number. The boundaries for phone calls can be set by each individual mentor.
  • CONFIDENTIALITY: Students will be encouraged to approach peer mentors with any issues they would like to discuss, and these conversations will usually remain confidential. However, there may be occasions when a problem arises that the mentor is not equipped to deal with. On such occasions, the peer mentor should discuss options with the student such as consulting someone, either inside or outside of the department, for additional advice.
  • TRAINING: In addition to educating themselves on departmental duties, peer mentors and departmental peer mentoring coordinators may choose to hold training events for fellow peer mentors and/or future coordinators. We strongly recommend that coordinators find and train their successors sooner rather than later (ideally months before the new first year students arrive on campus).
  • BUDGETING: The PM Committee is funded by the Graduate School and will assist departmental peer mentoring programs with their financial needs by providing them each with a budget to be used via reimbursement. When considering your budget for PM events, etc, understand your own department’s policy in conjunction with the policy of the PM Committee. 

More information can be found in the Peer Mentoring Handbook.