I began my MS 3.5 years ago with the thesis option. The research objectives required by my graduate committee chair will require another half a year at the very least. I am not willing to offer any more of my time having already exceeded my anticipated graduation date by 1 year.

I decided to cut my losses and change to a non-thesis program. I am prevented from doing this by my committee chair who does not approve of this transition.

So my committee chair has me at a bit of an impasse. I cannot spend any more time towards his research, but I cannot switch to a program of study that no longer requires more research without his approval which he is not willing to give. Where do I go from here?

  • 2
    Are there any possible answers other than "suck it up and do extra time", "beg/threaten/argue so they let you transition", and "drop out"? Which of those you choose is really a personal decision based on the specific details. Sounds like a difficult situation.
    – cag51
    Nov 28, 2018 at 1:18
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    There is one other I can think of: change my committee chair (advisor). However, the department is very small and I don't know the others. On option two: I'm willing to threaten/argue. I think I've got beg already done. I have tons of work to show for the last 3.5 years, but I don't know who else to get involved while remaining tactful.
    – user276833
    Nov 28, 2018 at 1:27
  • Yeah, doesn't seem likely that another professor would want to wade into the middle of this, particularly if your advisor would not approve (and even moreso if they don't know you). But I'm just guessing; you know all the details far better than anyone here. If you're really asking how to go about threatening/arguing, I would edit your question to reflect that -- that might be something we can help answer.
    – cag51
    Nov 28, 2018 at 1:31
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    Independently of what you do to obtain a degree, you should consider whether you have enough research to publish. You should also certify your contribution to the research to protect that your advisor acknowledges your work properly should it go to publication. The question of how to do this can be the subject of an entirely different thread, and an answer may already exist here. As your interest on this issue dictates, a follow up might be reasonable. In addition, a report back on your actions would be appreciated to close the loop here. Nov 28, 2018 at 3:12
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    You are not in a position to threaten. That could get you in a lot of trouble. So whatever you do, do not threaten. What you could do is escalate, i.e. move up in the bureaucracy, as Jeffrey Weimer suggested. Also there are typically faculty or non-faculty members who have the task of helping students with the "bureaucratic stuff". Going to their office hours would be a good first step. Nov 28, 2018 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Where I am, a non-thesis option requires only the approval of the department (meaning the department chair) and the graduate school. A "non-thesis advisor" is considered an oxymoron. At best, graduate students in this position are advised by either the Department Chair or the Chair of the Graduate Programs for the Department.

Put together a Program of Study (PoS) based on the Graduate Catalogue for your university and department / program. Your university probably has an on-line form to complete and submit. Confirm that you have met all of the administrative requirements. Then ...

  • Talk to the Department Chair.

  • Talk to the Dean of the Graduate School.

When you meet all of the PoS requirements for the degree, and with their approvals and signatures, you should be done.

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