I am in very tense situation. My supervisor is not allowing me to submit my Master by Research thesis. I have already told him that I have some potential fully funded PhD opportunity and he initially agreed but now he is creating problems. Earlier he wanted me to do PhD with him which I refused now I feel he took his personal and creating hurdles for me.

On the other hand, potential supervisor who offered me PhD wants me to join ASAP and I can lose this opportunity if I will not join in 2months.

I am thinking to withdraw Masters and join PhD? Is it a good decision? I have spent 2yrs and worked hard for this but now he is offended and creating issues.

I tried to change supervisor but 2-3 supervisors refused after knowing name of my current supervisor..he doesn't have good relationship with other faculty members.

Please advise what I should do?

  • 5
    What is the official reason that your supervisor gives you for refusing your submission?
    – Erwan
    Sep 3, 2019 at 16:51
  • 3
    I would look up your university policy regarding thesis submission. At my university, we have strict policies for your situation. In a nutshell, the student has the power to submit without the supervisor's permission. However, as this is going against the supervisor's judgement, then a thesis may fail. So only take this route if you know for sure you'll pass. Sep 3, 2019 at 21:21
  • 1
    Are you able to get a second opinion about your Masters thesis at all? If you have evidence that it is of an adequate standard and you are convinced yourself that it is worth the risk of submission on your own then do so
    – Poidah
    Sep 4, 2019 at 1:08
  • My co-supervisor is happy with my work and thesis. Unfortunately, both my supervisors don't have a good relationship with eachother. And I am suffering from it. Moreover, as per University policy, only main(principal) supervisor has the authority to accept the thesis and recommend external reviewers.
    – Kevin
    Sep 4, 2019 at 12:17
  • @Erwan there is no official reason. Unfortunately, University gives all rights to supervisors which is not good sometimes.
    – Kevin
    Sep 4, 2019 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


Perhaps you can employ a double track strategy. If the new supervisor is willing, agree to join them and do what is necessary to do so. They should be made aware that it is possible that the masters won't be awarded.

Simultaneously pursue some sort of action at your current place to "force" your current advisor to relent and let you finish. This might require a petition to higher authority with a claim of unfairness. This sort of thing can get messy if you don't have any alternatives, but in this case you have a good one.

So, rather than withdrawing, put the responsibility on your current university to do the right thing. Perhaps they will, but only if you make it a bit uncomfortable for them to not treat you fairly.

But, I would first, you could just inform the current advisor that you are joining the other. You don't need to go beyond that. Perhaps he will relent, but if not, press your case with someone higher in the hierarchy.

  • Thanks for your suggestions. Actually I won't be able to join PhD if I will be enrolled in Masters. I can only join PhD either by getting completion letter for Master or by withdrawing. Yes, escalation to higher authorities can help but it can delay and make things more ugly n complicated. I got conditional offer for PhD where they asked me to give completion letter of Masters....(I still need to check if they can accept me without Masters by withdrawing Masters)
    – Kevin
    Sep 3, 2019 at 12:18
  • A much harder situation then. Good luck with it.
    – Buffy
    Sep 3, 2019 at 12:22
  • But, as you state it, it seems a mistake to continue with your current advisor. The future doesn't seem rosy there.
    – Buffy
    Sep 3, 2019 at 12:30
  • Yes Right. Planning to discuss and negotiate things with him once politely before taking and bug decision.
    – Kevin
    Sep 4, 2019 at 12:19
  • I had a late thought. Explore the requirements for an MS at the new institution. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that you could just move your current degree there. The new advisor might need to be involved. I can't predict success, but it might be worth an exploration.
    – Buffy
    Sep 4, 2019 at 13:35

Since your supervisor doesn't give you any reason (and according to your comment doesn't even have to), it means that he could potentially postpone your diploma forever out of spite. You shouldn't have to withdraw from your Master just because of your supervisor's ego. His behavior is obviously unfair and unethical, so I think you should consider contacting the ombudsman or director of studies in your institution. Before that ask him again explicitly, preferably in writing, why he doesn't want you to submit. If he gives you a flimsy reason or no reason at all, it will be easier to make your case with the ombudsman.

  • @All... after waiting for more than a month, he replied and highlighted some issues which are already mentioned in the thesis in detail. My work is accepted in a ToP rank conference without his name on it but he is still not happy with it. Also, political problem between my main and co-supervisor also affecting me. I am afraid may be I will have to withdraw my master and join PhD in other insitutute. All my hardwork and efforsts of 2years will be wasted.
    – Kevin
    Oct 3, 2019 at 2:27
  • @Kevin as I said I think you should contact the ombudsman in your institution, or at least the student union, maybe they can give you advice. From what you describe it looks like a blatant abuse of power.This is why I think you need to escalate this: this supervisor is abusing his authority, he's unlikely to stop by himself. Ultimately the institution is responsible, and they certainly have rules against this.
    – Erwan
    Oct 3, 2019 at 9:09

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