I got into a delicate situation with my supervisor (and the director of the institute -- they are very close friends) and I will not have a chance to get my Ph.D. at the institute, at least not under conditions that I find acceptable.

My thesis will be finished soon; I wouldn't like to lose years of work because of this toxic person. Is it possible to defend my work at some other institute and with another supervisor(s)? Where to look and what to look for?

Institute is not so big and it is placed in Eastern Europe. There is no "postgraduates officer / director or student union or department or college head" or option to change my supervisor at the institute, and this director is the top director at the institute... I would appreciate any suggestions and experiences.

  • Welcome to Academia.SE. You may get better answers if you specify what country you are in (my answer is from a Western/US perspective).
    – cag51
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 0:19
  • If you transfer, you will probably end up taking more time than you would if you continued; I expect it will be very difficult or impossible to find an institution that will let you transfer and then defend your thesis immediately. On the other hand, you should be able to find somewhere that will let you graduate in much shorter a time than their regular PhD students do. If there are professors you know at other institutions, you could ask them bout this. Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


My writing of the thesis will be finished soon...Is it possible to defend my work at some other institute and with another supervisor(s)?

Do you have a supervisor in mind? If there is a particular professor who supports you, they may be able to help you navigate this and waive some of the usual requirements.

If not, there are many issues:

  • Residency requirements. You generally have to be "in residence" at an institution for 1-2 years before that institution can award you a degree. So, this would put you behind schedule.
  • Admission. You would effectively be a transfer student, and would have to apply for transfer admission like everyone else. This could be non-trivial: admission committees are not going to be excited about admitting a student who is already ABD somewhere else, left under less-than-good circumstances, and is eager to graduate as soon as possible.
  • Letters. You've spent enough time at this institution that you will be expected to have at least one or two letters of recommendation; their absence will be suspicious.

So: you're probably better off trying to patch things up at your current institution. If that's truly impossible, I would at least try to get a master's degree (if you don't already have one), a few good publications, and a letter of recommendation from someone at your current school before transferring somewhere else.


In most institutions, they require that the Phd. work to have been done after the student enrollment in their program during the program. Otherwise, the student's work does not reflect their teaching/supervision and they can not claim so with previous work done elsewhere.

You might be exaggerating your directors' power. They are not Gods at the end. Each institution have regulations that protect students. You can speak to postgraduates officer / director or student union or department or college head for advise. I am sure there are much more people managing the institution other than the two persons you conflicted with.

Your institution can assign you a third person. Remember Phd. require external examiners who will judge you independent of your previous supervisor. Also try to avoid people in their circle as examiner.

So if you have work done, do not waste it. Fight for your right and give it a try. If it failed, when you go to another institutions, mostly, you will start all over again. Your experience is advantage so you might finish earlier. But I really do not think you can take your current work. It is explicitly not permitted in most universities.

Consult your institution's regulations and student support officers they will help you. Also consult them about the intellectual properties, so you may be required to insert heir names in publications out of the work etc.

Another issue that might be problematic on taking your work , in case you could find institution that will take your work to continue it, is the intellectual property. Check it first to avoid issues.

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