I'm currently scheduled to start graduate school next semester. I've been going to the lab that I'll be working in for the past few months now. I had a question regarding graduation after talking with some of my seniors from the lab.
Just for some background info, I'm currently attending school in South Korea. I'll be pursuing an MS/PhD integrated degree in computer science. The lab that I'm working in is a lab that does research on machine learning and deep learning methods.
My initial plan was to go to the US after finishing my undergrad, but I figured that with my specs I'm not going to get funded and probably won't be able to get into a top program. Also fortunately enough the aforementioned lab's research coincided with mine and I would be getting funding so it seemed like the wiser choice.
I wanted to complete the requirements for a master's and then apply for PhD programs abroad. My supervisor advised that it'd probably be better to just get my PhD here and apply for post-doc positions in the US (or anywhere else) but he said he's also open to the idea of me quitting halfway.
The reason why I'm posting this question is because in Korea (I can't speak for other Asian countries but I heard Japan is also very similar) the professor who runs the lab is basically a "king" in that lab. Pretty much everything is according to his/her will and they also get to determine if they want to "let their students graduate." It's one reason why many people are reluctant to pursue graduate studies here if they had the choice.
Fortunately, my professor seems to be nice and at least considers his graduate students to some extent alongside his own personal interests.
I'm curious though, is this kind of thing also normal (or at least prevalent) in other countries in the Western world? The impression that I get for those countries is that graduate students are pretty much independent researchers/students and their supervisors are just that - supervisors. Does one's graduation also depend on their signature?